Socceroos brutalised by France in 'awful' scenes at FIFA World Cup

Craig Goodwin, pictured here giving the Socceroos an early lead against France at the FIFA World Cup.
Craig Goodwin gave the Socceroos an early lead against France at the FIFA World Cup. Image: Getty

The Socceroos have suffered a brutal reality check against France at the FIFA World Cup despite an extraordinary early goal. Craig Goodwin gave the Socceroos the lead against the defending champions on Tuesday in a stunning start to their opening match, before crashing back to earth in a 4-1 defeat.

On debut for Australia, Goodwin found the back of the net in just the ninth minute on Tuesday after a brilliant ball from Matthew Leckie to the back post. "Oh my god," Socceroos legend Harry Kewell said in commentary for SBS. "What a ball, that's exactly where you want to put that ball."

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It marked Australia’s first goal from open play since Tim Cahill’s incredible volley against the Netherlands in 2014. France defender Lucas Hernandez suffered a serious knee injury during the play and was substituted for Theo Hernandez.

Unfortunately for the Socceroos the lead didn't last much longer, with Adrien Rabiot equalising for France in the 27th minute. Olivier Giroud then gave France a 2-1 lead with a goal in the 32nd minute as the favourites began to assert their dominance.

France added two more goals in the second half as Kylian Mbappé found the back of the net in the 68th minute, before Giroud scored his second in the 71st minute to put the result beyond doubt.

Australia could have gone 2-0 up in the 22nd minute when a flying Mitch Duke 20-metre shot just curved right of the net. But five minutes later, the tide turned towards France.

Graham Arnold had early handed debuts to Goodwin, Mitchell Duke, Riley McGree, Kye Rowles, Harry Souttar and Nathaniel Atkinson for their opener against the world champions. Only captain Mat Ryan, Leckie, Aaron Mooy, Jackson Irvine and Aziz Behich have previously featured in football's showpiece tournament.

Arnold opted for Souttar and Rowles in central defence against France for the match at Al Janoub Stadium. Both centre-backs have had limited recent game time after suffering injuries, while Atkinson has been given first crack at right-back.

The Socceroos, pictured here being handed a reality check by France at the FIFA World Cup.
The Socceroos were handed a reality check by France at the FIFA World Cup. Image: Getty

Japan-based striker Duke was Australia's focal point in attack, with Goodwin and Leckie on the wings. Kewell praised the selections of McGree and Goodwin.

“Both players playing very well for their clubs but when I look at the team I see a good balance,” he told SBS. “I see a lot of experience and a lot of energy and players who can create different moments. I see a good old-fashioned forward in Mitchell Duke and again I am excited about this and I want to see something exciting tonight.”

The match was the first of Australia's group games at the Cup, with fixtures against Tunisia (Saturday, 2100 AEDT) and Denmark (December 1, 0200 AEDT) to follow. Fans took to social media to bemoan the 'awful' scenes against France in light of the stunning start.

Denmark and Tunisia draw to leave group wide open

Tunisia and Denmark earlier played out a scoreless draw in their first game in group D, with the African side surviving a dramatic stoppage-time VAR penalty check.

Danish substitute Andreas Cornelius also hit the post, while Tunisia themselves wasted two clear chances in their World Cup opening stalemate at Education City Stadium.

Tunisia were roared on by their sizeable following in the 42,925 crowd, whose deafening whistles and roars gave energy to their side and helped secure what had seemed an unlikely point before kickoff, despite the fact they are unbeaten in nine of their last 10 internationals.

Denmark thought they should have had a penalty in stoppage time for handball that was checked at the VAR screen by referee Cesar Arturo Ramos, but he instead - surprisingly - gave a free kick to Tunisia for a foul in the build-up.

Tunisia coach Jalel Kadri said his heart sunk as Ramos was called over to consult the VAR screen, sure he'd award the penalty.

"I can't put into words my feelings at that moment but you can imagine it well," he said. "But today it was in our favour and this is what football is all about. VAR decisions have to be respected."

Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand was critical of his team, saying: "We played too nervously and too slow, and we didn't find ourselves in the first half. There was a period when we got into it but we were never calm and comfortable, that came later in the game. There's no doubt we played under par.

"Qualifying from the group has become complicated but it's not over ... our heads would have been a little higher with a better result."

The FIFA World Cup 2022 is on SBS and SBS on Demand.

with AAP

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