VAR was the ultimate talking point as all three goals in France’s 2-1 win over Australia went to the decision of the technology team.
Paul Pogba scored the winner in the 80th minute as the ball bounced millimetres over the line and the French team celebrated as the Australians claimed for offside.
The goal was given and France top the group after a somewhat cagey start against the stubborn Socceroos.
Bert van Marwijk’s men may have been expecting the worst after France registered three efforts on goal inside the opening six minutes, Brighton and Hove Albion’s Matt Ryan keeping Kylian Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann and Pogba at bay.
Australia grew into the game and in a disciplined 4-4-2, they became comfortable. They almost took the lead themselves as Lloris tipped wide from a Trent Sainsbury header. The Grasshopper Club Zürich defender rose highest to reach an Arron Mooy cross.
Didier Deschamps’s men came out quicker in the second half with Pogba attempting to break the lines with lofted passed in behind the sturdy Australian backline.
Antoine Griezmann was taken down in the box, and the video assistant referee team was used to help the head official overturn a penalty kick call. It’s the first-ever use of VAR at a World Cup game. History was made and Griezmann soon after converted the spot kick to give the French team an early lead in the 58th minute.
Incredibly, Australia responded just three minutes later when Mooy delivered another delicious cross from a set-piece and Samuel Umtiti appeared to forget the rules of football for a split-second of madness. The Barcelona defender leapt and punched the ball away with his right hand, resulting in a penalty to Austraila after the VAR team confirmed the referee’s instincts were correct.
Mile Jedinak made no mistake from the spot as he stepped up to send Lloris the wrong way.
For about 20 minutes thereafter, Australia looked to have France’s number, staying compact and denying the French forwards time and space.
But one lapse of concentration was all it took, and France had the lead in the 82nd minute when Pogba ran at pace at a loose ball, hitting a chipped shot off which deflected off Aziz Behich, and looped over the stranded Ryan to win the match for France.
A good result for France, but this dynamic attack was anything but. We may see some tactical changes from Deschamps moving forward. As for Australia, it just let Denmark and Peru know that it will be no easy match and it has the capability of moving on to the round of 16 if it can put it together in the final two matches.