Paul Pogba pokes France past Australia as late winner follows Antoine Griezmann’s historic VAR penalty kick in Kazan

Mile Jedinak equalised for Bert Van Marwijk’s side before Manchester United midfielder won the group C game for Les Bleus

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 June, 2018, 8:47pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 June, 2018, 8:28am

France launched their World Cup 2018 campaign with victory against Australia on Saturday as the Video Assistant Referee system was used for the first time in World Cup history.

The Group C match in Kazan was goalless when Antoine Griezmann went down after a tackle in the second half. Uruguayan referee Andres Cunha did not award a penalty but after viewing the VAR footage, ruled it was a spot-kick and Griezmann gave France a 1-0 lead.

“It’s a good job there was video in this case,” Griezmann told BeIN Sport TV in France.

“I think it was a penalty, he caught me on the left foot. Just after I got up, it was hurting a bit. That’s not simulation.”

But French celebrations were short-lived, Australia captain Mile Jedinak levelling only four minutes later after a clear hand ball by Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti.

But Paul Pogba won a tight match for the 1998 champions when his shot bounced over the line off the crossbar in the 81st minute.

Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud, still wearing a bandage around a recent head injury, had replaced Griezmann only minutes before playing a one-two with Paul Pogba on the edge of the area.

The Manchester United midfielder’s shot took a deflection off the boot of defender Aziz Behich before creeping over the outstretched hands of Ryan and bouncing over the goalline.

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Deschamps, a World Cup winner with France in 1998, will be thanking his lucky stars after a performance which will give him more questions than answers about his ambitious side -- the second-youngest in the tournament after Nigeria.

France are hoping to join tournament favourites Brazil, Germany and Spain in the latter stages as they look to make amends for losing the Euro 2016 final to Portugal.

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In a tight first half that saw Griezmann, teenager Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele fail to spark, it was the yellow-clad Aussie fans who have invaded the Tatar capital in recent days who had most to cheer about.

The real drama, however, unfolded after the interval with the VAR decision.