Olivier Giroud equalled Thierry Henry’s France goalscoring record as Les Bleus fought back to begin their World Cup defence with a 4-1 victory over Australia on Tuesday.
Despite losing Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba and others to injury during a chaotic build-up to the tournament, France suffered another blow when Craig Goodwin fired Australia into an early lead.
But the holders responded well, with the impressive Adrien Rabiot recording a goal and an assist – the latter for Giroud – during a first-half turnaround.
Kylian Mbappe then made the points safe with a fine glancing header before teeing up Giroud to nod home his landmark 51st goal as France took control of Group D.
The 36-year-old Giroud level with Thierry Henry as France’s all-time record scorer with 51 goals for the men’s national team.
It is a record the magnificent Mbappe will surely break one day.
France are two points clear at the top of Group D as a result of this win with Denmark and Tunisia having drawn 0-0 earlier in the day. Australia find themselves bottom, the only team without a point.
France continue their title defence against Denmark on Saturday, kick-off 4pm, while Australia play Tunisia earlier that day at 10am.
The winners of Group D will face the runner-up from Group C, containing Argentina, Mexico, Poland and Saudi Arabia. The runner-up in Group D will face the winners of Group C.
Watch highlights of the match below;
Key Opta Facts:
– France have won five consecutive games at the World Cup, their joint-longest winning run at the tournament, having also won five in a row from 1986 to 1998.
– Australia have lost 11 of their 17 games at the World Cup (65%), the joint-highest ratio by any nation to play 10+ matches at the competition (Saudi Arabia also 65%).
– France were the first reigning champion to win their opening game of a World Cup tournament since Brazil in 2006, while this was the biggest ever MD1 win by a reigning champion to kick-off a World Cup campaign.
– Olivier Giroud scored his 50th and 51st goals for France, levelling Thierry Henry as the nation’s joint-top goalscorer of all-time (51). Aged 36 years and 53 days, he was the second-oldest player to score a brace at the World Cup, after Roger Milla, who netted a brace twice in 1990 for Cameroon while aged 38.