Olivier Giroud is being hailed around the globe after equalling France great Thierry Henry's record as the country's all-time leading goalscorer. The French striker scored a brace in his side's thumping 4-1 victory over the Socceroos in their Group D opener in Qatar.
Craig Goodwin had given the Aussies a surprise early lead against the defending champions, but the quality of France eventually shone through as Didier Deschamps' men romped to a resounding victory to go top go Group D, after Denmark and Tunisia drew 0-0 in the other game.
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Giroud went into the game against the Socceroos second behind Arsenal icon Henry, as France's leading goalscorer of all time. However, the veteran French striker matched Henry's mark of 51 goals for his country, with strikes either side of halftime in an impressive comeback victory for the World Cup holders.
France responded to the setback of going behind to Goodwin's sumptuous finish, with an equaliser to Adrien Rabiot after the midfielder nodded in a cross from Theo Hernandez. Three minutes later, the reigning world champions were ahead after Giroud capitalised on a horror moment from Socceroos debutant, Nathaniel Atkinson.
The Aussie defender was caught in possession by Rabiot deep inside his own half, before the Frenchman exchanged passes with Kylian Mbappé, who surged into the penalty area and squared it for Giroud to prod home.
Leading the line for France in place of injured Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema - who was ruled out of the World Cup with a thigh injury on the eve of the tournament - Giroud then found himself on the end of another pin-point cross from France's third goal scorer Mbappe in the second half, to complete the 4-1 rout.
Giroud's goalscoring feat for France is even more impressive considering he took eight fewer games to match Henry's France record. The France striker's 51st goal for Les Blues came in his 115th appearance for the national side, compared to Henry's 123 games.
The REIGNING champions are off to a winning start! 🇫🇷
Olivier Giroud equals Thierry Henry's all-time goalscoring record for France! 👏 pic.twitter.com/iKRdigdZYF
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) November 22, 2022
More magnificence from Mbappe leads to Olivier Giroud equalling Thierry Henry’s French goal scoring record. A great achievement.
— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) November 22, 2022
Olivier Giroud has matched Thierry Henry France all time goal scoring record tonight. pic.twitter.com/23G881vreZ
— Frank Khalid (@FrankKhalidUK) November 22, 2022
Olivier Giroud equals Henry as France all time topscorer: 51 goals.
He’s still doing incredible also with AC Milan as he scored 22 goals in 55 total apps, winning Serie A title.
Milan invested less than €2m to sign him in 2021. New deal to be discussed soon.
Special player 🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/b5Ax8PbE8X
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) November 22, 2022
Respect to Olivier Giroud…remarkable international career
— Joey Alfieri (@joeyalfieri) November 22, 2022
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) November 22, 2022
"It's not something that was weighing on him. I don't know if he was searching for the record. It's above all about what he does on the pitch... he is an important asset for us," France coach Didier Deschamps said after the match.
"He's very useful in the way he links up with all the other players in the attack and the team."
The target man for France in 2018, Giroud failed to score a single goal as they won the World Cup in Russia and risked missing out altogether here having not been a regular in recent squads.
But his form at AC Milan this season convinced Deschamps to include him, even if he was expected to feature mainly from the bench.
That all changed over the course of one fateful training as Benzema, already struggling for fitness, was forced to withdraw with a left thigh injury he picked up on the weekend in Qatar.
Giroud was thrust into the line-up to support Mbappe, who has said he enjoys more "freedom" playing for France than Paris Saint-Germain - in part because of Giroud's presence.
France top after Denmark and Tunisia stalemate
France's win against the Socceroos saw them jump to the top of Group D after Denmark and Tunisia played out a goalless draw earlier. Andreas Cornelius had a glorious chance to win the game for the more fancied Danes but somehow contrived to miss a header from less than one metre out from goal.
Brought on as a 65th minute substitute - Cornelius soon found himself at the back post with the goal at his mercy 10 minutes later when Andreas Christensen nodded down a corner that found his Danish teammate unmarked. Cornelius had a glorious chance to break the deadlock, if only he had the composure necessary to take the chance.
In hindsight, the Danish star probably could and should have poked the ball into the back of the net with his boot, but opted instead to try and guide it into the back of the net via a diving header. Unfortunately for Cornelius and the Danes, his contact was poor and the header hit the post and bounced back from centimetres out.
Things don't get any easier next up for the Danes, with a showdown against France in their second Group D game, while the Socceroos next meet Tunisia on Saturday night (9pm AEDT), looking for a win to kickstart their World Cup campaign.
The FIFA World Cup 2022 is on SBS and SBS on Demand.
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