Published: Mon, June 18, 2018
Sport | By Floyd Cook

History made as VAR used for first time in World Cup match

History made as VAR used for first time in World Cup match

A historic VAR-assisted penalty from Antoine Griezmann and a late goal from Paul Pogba helped France to a labored 2-1 win over Australia in their opening World Cup Group C match at the 45,000-seat Kazan Arena here on Saturday.

If France got a talking to at half-time, it didn't show at the beginning of the second half as they didn't show much improvement until the 58th minute when a great through ball from Pogba found Griezmann through on goal but the striker fell to floor in the box after tackle from Josh Risdon.

Referee Andres Cunha from Uruguay did not award a spot-kick but after viewing the VAR footage, ruled it was a penalty and Griezmann gave France a 1-0 lead.

Socceroos skipper Mile Jedinak sent his French counterpart Hugo Lloris the wrong way to give Australia hopes of forcing a draw at the Kazan Arena but Pogba grabbed the victor in the 81st minute.

"We all are sure that there will not be any problems for the Nigerian players because the atmosphere we felt already arriving in Russian Federation was very good", he said.

"No-one expected we could play like this against France but I think there were a lot of moments when they didn't know what to do anymore so that's a big compliment for us".

Coming into the game with a three-pronged attack made of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele, France created very little and ultimately needed a controversial penalty and a lucky goal to prevail.

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"I'm not going to complain about the use of video today", France coach Didier Deschamps said.

"When the referee went to see the video, I thought it was a penalty".

"I'm proud but disappointed". There were many situations in which they did not know what to do anymore. Aaron Mooy's delivery from the left was deflected towards his own goal by Corentin Tolisso, but Hugo Lloris was aware of the danger and turned the ball aside for a corner.

Replay showed that Risdon earned nothing from the challenge, awarding France the penalty, and the Australian defender picked up a yellow card for his efforts. Fox Sports football reporter Daniel Garb said there were only so many "gallant defeats" we can take before something needs to give.

Australia made their way to the World Cup after beating Syria in the play-off encounter.

Flamengo forward Guerrero had a 14-month ban for testing positive for cocaine overturned just weeks before the tournament began and celebrated by scoring twice in a friendly against Saudi Arabia. Former England striker and pundit Gary Lineker added: "The fact that opinion is divided on the Griezmann VAR penalty decision suggests that even if it probably was a penalty, the decision should not have been changed". We got ourselves back into the game, we felt good.

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