France 2-1 Australia
Their will be a tremendous sigh of relief swarming throughout France today as Manchester United's Paul Pogba provided a late goal to ensure a winning start for Les Bleus.
Tipped as one of the favorites to win the World Cup in Russia, it was an uninspiring display from France who struggled to break down Australia, while looking vulnerable defensively at times.
Paul Pogba was an essential component in winning the game; his beautifully slotted through ball led to Antoine Griezmann's penalty – which the Atletico Madrid forward duly converted.
His powerful, surging forward run in the 79th minute carved out a scoring opportunity; the United playmaker combined with Chelsea's Olivier Giroud before dispatching a cleverly weighted dink on goal. Granted, the effort had some fortune with a slight deflection that looped it over Matt Ryan in goal. The ball struck the crossbar, rebounding just over the line – VAR confirmed the goal.
What a run by Paul Pogba to finish off a pretty team goal! pic.twitter.com/xfPqDQDyDU— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 16, 2018
It wasn't a tantalizing win for France by any means. They enjoyed more shots and chances on goal, but only slightly more possession against a team 29 places below them in the FIFA World Rankings.
Pogba was given a more flexible and free role in the midfield, with N'Golo Kante being the anchor deeper in the center. This allowed the 25-year-old a greater ability to get forward and influence the creativity of the France offense.
Pogba's performance was far from perfect in this match, yet his influence in the line-up is evident and he will hope to build on the confidence of the win and getting on the scoresheet.
France's last two games against statistically lesser opposition have been worrying considering their expectation in this year's competition. They will look to improve on their performance when they play Peru on June, 21.