FIFA World Cup holders France made a winning start to their campaign in Al Wakrah with a 4-1 thumping of Australia to go top of Group D. Olivier Giroud scored twice as Adrien Rabiot and Kylian Mbappe also netted after Craig Goodwin had given the Socceroos an unexpected early lead.
Matthew Leckie teed Goodwin up inside of 10 minutes to finish high into the net, but Rabiot leveled with his head after Theo Hernandez's ball in after replacing his injured brother Lucas. Rabiot then turned provider to give Giroud his 50th goal in French colors, and it was 2-1 at the break.
Mbappe headed home from Ousmane Dembele's cross to make it 3-1 midway through the second half and then provided Giroud's second of the night just three minutes later. The AC Milan man is now joint with Thierry Henry as Les Bleus' top scorer on 51 goals after a memorable night at Al Janoub Stadium.
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Here are some takeaways:
Mbappe off the mark
Back for a second bite at the World Cup after his 2018 success with France in Russia, the Paris Saint-Germain man has started in ideal fashion with a goal. Mbappe headed in from Ousmane Dembele's cross and then teed Giroud up as the 23-year-old quickly found his feet in Qatar. With Denmark and Tunisia to come in Group D, he will be watched closely after this showing.
Giroud the great
Two goals for the AC Milan man who is now level with Thierry Henry as France's leading scorer on 51 goals. One was the easiest of finishes after Rabiot set him up and the other was a much more impressive header from Mbappe's ball in. Another page in history with Les Bleus for Giroud and signs that Deschamps' attacking setup could still bear fruit.
Key in France's turnaround after going behind was the Juventus man. Rabiot headed home Theo Hernandez's ball in to level and then provided Giroud with an easy finish, but his all-round performance and maturity was arguably the most impressive aspect of his display. Now 27, he is the most experienced midfielder available to Deschamps and put Aurelien Tchouameni in the shade with a dominant display. More of that and Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante might not have a way back into the starting XI when fit.
France weak at the back
Questions were asked of France's defense before the World Cup kicked off and they were answered inside of 10 minutes as Australia took an early lead. Although Deschamps' men hit back through Rabiot and Giroud, the backline did not stabilize as expected and the Socceroos had a few more chances. Jackson Irvine's header touched the post which was a reminder of Les Bleus' defensive vulnerabilities which were not helped by the early exit of Lucas Hernandez through injury. We might only be one match in, but the French will not defend their title if they do not improve their rearguard.
France look as dominant as many expected and could make life difficult for Denmark on the next match day. Australia and Tunisia meet in what could decide a surprise challenger for group progression. Les Bleus have the advantage, but so much will now play on that clash with the Danish. A draw there could keep things reasonably open heading into the final matches.