Doha – France’s soccer players entered the World Cup in Qatar with a comfortable 4-1 victory over Australia. The opening match of Group D between Denmark and Tunisia produced the first goalless draw of the championship.
France went on to defend their gold with a 4-1 win over Australia
The defending champions were trailing from the ninth minute to a Craig Goodwin goal in their opening Group D appearance, but Adrien Rabiot and Olivier Giroud turned the score around before the break. In the 68th minute, Kylian Mbappé added insurance and Giroud closed the score immediately after, who equaled the French record holder Thierry Henry with his 51st goal in the national team.
The French beat Australia in their World Cup opener for the second time in a row, winning 2-1 four years ago. The defending champions won their opening game for the first time since 2006. The French, who won for only the second time in their last seven matches, face Denmark in their next group game on Saturday. The Australians will face Tunisia.
“We were scorched at the start, but then we did everything we needed to. We could have scored even more goals after the break. There were a lot of good things in our game,” defending champions coach Didier Deschamps told TF1.
France, who are missing this year’s Ballon d’Or winner striker Benzema through injury, started brightly but the Australians surprisingly opened the scoring. In the ninth minute, Leckie sent in a cross from the right, the ball went across the box and Goodwin fired it under the crossbar. He scored his second national team goal and took care of the fastest goal of the championship in Qatar so far. French defender Lucas Hernandez was injured during a defensive action and was replaced by his brother Théo after only 13 minutes.
In the 22nd minute, the Australians could shock the favorite even more, Duke narrowly missed with a good shot from behind the goal. It was equalized in five minutes. Rabiot ran onto Hernandez’s cross into the box and headed it past Ryan. He established himself right away in his first start at the World Championship.
In the next five minutes, the French turned the tide. After a big mistake in the Australian set-piece, Rabiot poked the ball and set up an easy position in front of an open goal for Giroud. Even from the third shot, a goal fell between the posts.
In the 44th minute, Mbappé could have raised the ball, but he headed over a great chance from close range. The French were almost very sorry until the break. On the opposite side, in the six-minute setup, Irvine jumped in and was inches away from a goal in his jubilee 50th national team start with a header into the bar.
Shortly after the break, Giroud could have equalized with Henry, but sent an acrobatic finish wide. After changing sides, the French controlled the course and secured their lead. In the 67th minute, Behich deflected Griezmann’s shot just before the goal line, but from the next action, Mbappé headed in from the center from the right side with the help of the stick.
In the next three minutes, the gold defenders scored for the fourth time. This time, Mbappé crossed and Giroud didn’t hesitate with his header from close range. The AC Milan striker equaled the French record holder Henry with his 51st goal in the national team, and he only needed eight games less to do so.
“In the end, we can be satisfied with the entry. The beginning was not entirely happy, but we reacted quickly and were effective. In the end we could have added even more goals. I really hope that Lucas (Hernandez) is not seriously injured. We dedicate this match to him,” said Giroud .
The Gaelic World Cup selection has scored at least four goals in two consecutive matches for the first time, a feat only achieved by Brazil and Germany since 2000. The Australians finished in a deep depression and could be happy that they did not concede the fifth time. At the world championship, they lost for the sixth time out of the last seven duels.
“We played well in the first half, then our legs got a little heavy. But we can’t forget that we were playing against the defending champions. The French are world champions for a reason,” Australian coach Graham Arnold noted.
Denmark’s match with Tunisia produced the first goalless draw at the World Cup
The opening match of Group D at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar between Denmark and Tunisia produced the first goalless draw of the championship. In a match with few chances, the Danes were closer to victory, twenty minutes before the end they were stopped by a post on their way to three points.
The Tunisians have never beaten a European team at the World Cup. In the last championship, however, they tormented England in the opening match in Russia and lost only with a goal in the last minute, and today they were more than equal opponents to the Danes in Doha.
On Saturday, the northerners will face defending champions France, whom they have beaten twice in the Nations League this year, while Tunisia will face Australia on the same day.
Danish coach Kasper Hjulmand stated that his charges did not succeed in the match. “We played nervously and too slowly. In the first half we couldn’t find each other, later we got into it, but we didn’t have enough composure. There is no doubt that we played below our capabilities,” the Danish coach was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Both teams confirmed that their main weapon is solid defense. In the fight for promotion to Qatar, the Danes scored only three goals in ten games, the fewest in the entire European qualification. The Tunisians have gone eight times without conceding a goal in this year’s nine matches, and they have only caught a five-goal debacle from Brazil.
In the first twenty minutes, the spectators saw only one shot, sent by the Tunisian Drádžir. His teammate Jabáli even got the ball into the net in the 22nd minute after escaping from the middle of the field, but he took the pass offside. The striker, who plays in the Danish league in Odense, had another chance before the break, but goalkeeper Schmeichel caught his shot.
In addition to a significant advantage in the audience, the Tunisians also had a slight upper hand on the field. Only corner kicks were added to the Danish account, the rare shooting attempts were easy prey for goalkeeper Dahmán. And when Mähle scored in the 55th minute, the goal was not valid for the previous offside.
The team from North Africa literally fought for every ball and outplayed the opponent. This was shown most by midfielder Aisá Laidúní, who wildly celebrated every successful defensive intervention and often turned to the spectators. “The fans were incredible and we wanted to show them that we have a huge commitment to leave everything on the pitch,” said one of Tunisia’s key players.
For the last half hour, Danish coach Hjulmand sent two fresh forwards onto the pitch and the European Championship semi-finalist started to increase the pressure. Eriksen, who took over the captain’s armband from substitute Kjaer, tested the goalkeeper with a long-range shot, and immediately one of the new players on the field, Cornelius, headed the post. Another substitute, Lindström, also shot dangerously.
The Africans unsuccessfully demanded a penalty for Andersen’s hand. At the set time, the same situation was repeated on the other side, and even this time Mexican referee Ramos, after consulting the video, did not award a penalty kick. The Tunisians thus gained a point at the expense of the big favourites, and after Saudi Arabia’s win over Argentina, they took care of another surprising result.
“We complicated the process, but nothing is lost. The tournament is just getting started, but with a better result, we would have held our heads higher,” coach Hjulmand concluded.
His counterpart Jalil Kadri could not praise the audience’s support. “This is not normal, the spectators were an important factor in the match. Thank God that they saw a good result. We have a point in a difficult group and we can confidently go to the next match,” Kadrí said.
FIFA World Cup Qatar – Group D
(Doha, Education City):
Denmark – Tunisia 0:0
Referees: Ramos – Morín, Hernández – Guerrero (video, all Mexican). ŽK: Kristensen, Jensen – Chanísí. Spectators: 42,925.
Denmark: Schmeichel – Andersen, Kjaer (65. Jensen), Christensen – Kristensen, Delaney (45.+1 Damsgaard), Eriksen, Höjbjerg, Mähle – Skov Olsen (65. Lindström), Dolberg (65. Cornelius). Trainer: Wheelman.
Tunisia: Dahman – Talbí, Maríá, Bronn – Drádžir (88. Kačrida), Schirí, Laidúní (88. Sasí), Abdí – Slimaní (67. Slíti), Msakní (80. Majbri) – Jabáli (80. Khanísí). Coach: Kadri.
France – Australia 4:1 (2:1)
Goals: 32nd and 71st Giroud, 27th Rabiot, 68th Mbappé – 9th Goodwin. Referee: Gomes – Siwela (both South Africa), Phatsoane (Lesotho) – Fischer (video, Kan.). ŽK: Duke, Irvine, Mooy (all Austr.). Spectators: 40,875.
Francie: Lloris – Pavard (89. Koundé), Konaté, Upamecano, L. Hernandez (13. T. Hernandez) – Tchouaméni (77. Fofana) – Griezmann, Rabiot – Dembélé (77. Coman), Giroud (89. Thuram), Mbappé . Trener: Deschamps.
Australia: Ryan – Atkinson (85. Degenek), Souttar, Rowles, Behich – Mooy – McGree (73. Mabil), Irvine (85. Baccus) – Leckie, Duke (56. Cummings), Goodwin (73. Kuol). Trainer: Arnold.
Source: České noviny – sport by www.ceskenoviny.cz.
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