Olivier Giroud celebrates his first goal. (Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports)
France gave its supporters quite an early scare in its World Cup match against Australia on Tuesday.
But the defending world champions reverted back to their usual selves, much to the chagrin of Australia.
The French scored twice on either side of halftime as they recorded an emphatic 4-1 Group D victory at Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar.
Olivier Giroud struck twice to tie former New York Red Bulls star Thierry Henry for the most international goals by a Frenchman. Adrien Rabiot and Kylian Mbappe added single tallies for France, which is aiming to become only the second men’s team to win back-to-back World Cups. Only Brazil (1958 and 1962) have accomplished that feat.
The match did not start well for France, which lost 2022 Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema prior to the tournament and quite possibly another player as the Aussies grabbed the lead in the ninth minute.
With French left back Lucas Hernandez on the ground in agony while clutching his knee, Australia found the back of the net on what would be its lone shot on target, Mathew Leckie got past him and crossed the ball to Craig Goodwin at the far post.
France equalized on Rabiot’s header in the 27th minute and took the lead for good five minutes later on Giroud’s first goal off a Rabiot assist. Mbappe added an insurance tally, a header that hit the left post and went into the net in the 68th minute.
Three minutes later. Mbappe turned playmaker, sending a left-wing cross that Giroud headed home to tie Henry with his 51st international goal.