France dish up Socceroos heartbreak

Steve Larkin and Ben McKay
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WC18 AUSTRALIA FRANCE

The Socceroos fought hard but were ultimately outdone by France in their World Cup clash win Kazan

A second-guess from a referee and cruel luck denied Australia a deserved draw against France at the World Cup, coach Bert van Marwijk says.

The French escaped with a 2-1 triumph at Kazan Arena in Russia on Saturday against a gallant Australian side.

France's first goal came from a video assistant referee (VAR) reviewed penalty - the first at a World Cup - which van Marwijk says will be be forever debated.

Frenchman Antoine Greizman scored from the spot in the 58th minute after being tripped by Australia's Josh Risdon.

Uruguayan referee Andres Cunha originally waved away French appeals for a penalty before seeking technological assistance.

"The body language was that he didn't know," van Marwijk said of the referee's posture while watching the review.

"... Let's say from 10, seven people say penalty and three say no penalty. So I don't know.

"He was standing very close in the moment of the penalty (incident) and he directly said 'no penalty', he directly said 'go on'.

"It's also a human being so everybody makes mistakes.

"But when you are 100 per cent sure it's no penalty and you go and you doubt; you have to ask him."

Just four minutes later, Australia equalised when captain Mile Jedinak converted a penalty after a blatant handball from French defender Samuel Umtiti.

But France pinched the points in the 81st minute with what van Marwijk described as a "lucky goal".

Paul Pogba poked toward goal, the ball deflected off the boot of Australia's Aziz Behich, and looped onto the crossbar before falling centimetres over the line.

"The French didn't know what to do anymore in big parts of the game." van Marwijk said.

"(I am) proud and disappointed.

"We gave a very good performance. Nobody expected that we could play like this against France.

" ... The way we wanted to play, they (Australian players) did it for 95 per cent, so I cannot blame any of my players, I only can give them compliments.

"It's football. We have no point.

"At least we ... deserved to play a draw."

The result makes it difficult for Australia to get out of the group stage, with matches to come against Denmark on Thursday and Peru the following Tuesday.

But on the evidence of Saturday's match, van Marwijk's plucky players can't be entirely discounted.

"When you see this (French) game, you must have confidence for the rest of the tournament ... but it is never a guarantee," he said.