Giroud matched Henry for the start with a win

Australia, football, Fraaus, France, France 4-1 Australia, Giroud matched Henry for the start with a win, Karim Benzema, optajean, sport, world cup, World Cup 2022, World Cup in Qatar

Olivier Giroud and Adrien Rabiot celebrating the former’s goals against Australia

Olivier Giroud equaled France’s Thierry Henry’s record goalscorer as Les Bleus bounced back to start their World Cup defense with a 4-1 win over Australia on Tuesday.

After missing Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba and others to injury during chaotic tournament preparations, France suffered another blow when Craig Goodwin gave Australia an early lead.

But the reigning champions responded well, with an impressive Adrien Rabiot registering a goal and an assist – the latter for Giroud – during the first half round.

Kylian Mbappe then kept the point safe with a fine header before setting up Giroud for a historic 51st goal as France took control of Group D.

Goodwin flicked Mathew Leckie’s cross into the top half of the net after a dream nine-minute start for Australia, but France’s two quick goals turned the tide.

Rabiot contributed to both goals, meeting in Theo Hernandez’s deep cross in the 27th minute before his cut-back allowed Giroud to take advantage.

The end of an entertaining first half saw clear chances at either end, with Mbappe firing from close range before Jackson Irvine’s header hit the post.

Giroud nearly scored a spectacular second when he sent an acrobatic effort wide just after halftime, while Antoine Griezmann fired in from the goalline as France pressed on.

France finally got their third after 68 minutes, with Mbappe turning Ousmane Dembele’s cross against the post to seal victory.

Mbappe crossed for France’s fourth just three minutes later but the moment belonged to Giroud as he headed past Mathew Ryan for a piece of Les Bleus history.

What does it mean? Champion made a strong start

France approach Tuesday’s game to buck the slow recent trend of World Cup holders – the reigning champions have only started with wins in three of the last 12 tournaments (D4 L5).

Given their tumultuous preparation and Australia’s early opening, Didier Deschamps may have feared the worst, but Les Bleus ultimately earned good value for their win, which saw them take control of Group D after Denmark’s draw with Tunisia.

Giroud matches Henry

Had Real Madrid’s Ballon d’Or winning striker Benzema been fit to feature against the Socceroos, Giroud would likely have been a missing out on Deschamps’ place.

However, Giroud – who played a key role in France’s 2018 heroics in Russia – helped himself to level with Henry’s tally of 51 goals for his country, reaching that figure in eight fewer caps than the Arsenal great.

Rabiot became the center of attention

The injuries to Pogba and his 2018 World Cup winning midfield partner N’Golo Kante opened the door for Rabiot to take a central role in Qatar, and he did not disappoint France in their Group D opener.

Rabiot took the game by the scruff of the neck before half-time, becoming the first French player to score and assist a goal on his World Cup debut since Christophe Dugarry against South Africa in 1998.

Opta Key Facts:

  • France have won five games in a row at the World Cup, their longest winning streak at the tournament, having also won five in a row from 1986 to 1998.
  • Australia have lost 11 of their 17 matches at the World Cup (65%), the joint-highest ratio by any country to play 10+ matches in the competition (Saudi Arabia also 65%).
  • France is the first defending champion to win the opening game of a World Cup tournament since Brazil in 2006, while this is the biggest MD1 win ever for a defending champion to start a World Cup campaign.
  • Olivier Giroud scored his 50th and 51st goals for France, equaling Thierry Henry as the country’s all-time joint top scorer (51). Aged 36 years and 53 days, he is the second oldest player to score twice at a World Cup, after Roger Milla, who scored twice in 1990 for Cameroon aged 38.

What’s next?

France face Denmark in their next Group D match on Saturday, while Australia face Tunisia on the same day.

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