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France sneaks past Australia thanks to VAR and Paul Pogba

It wasn’t easy, but Les Bleus have three points after their first World Cup game.

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France v Australia: Group C - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

No one will have been convinced by France’s performance against Australia on Saturday. Les Bleus were slow and created very few chances, while letting the Aussies look dangerous. But thanks to a favorable VAR review and one piece of brilliance from Paul Pogba, France sits on top of World Cup Group C with three points.

France 2-1 Australia, final score

The opening goal was gifted to Les Bleus by way of the tiniest of fouls by Joshua Risdon. The referee didn’t give a penalty straight away, but the VAR official confirmed that Risdon clipped Antoine Griezmann, and Griezmann converted the resulting penalty.

Just four minutes later, Australia had an equalizer, with the Socceroos also scoring from the penalty spot. Samuel Umtiti inexplicably reached up and punched the ball in his own box in the 62nd minute, and Mile Jedinak capitalized on the resulting call.

But France found a winner through its superstar in the 80th minute. Once again, technology was utilized — the officials didn’t see the goal at first, but goal-line technology confirmed that Pogba had scored.

Despite having some of the most talented players on earth, France hasn’t quite figured out how it wants to attack Australia. The Socceroos have played well defensively, and still have a clean sheet at halftime.

France 0-0 Australia, halftime score

While France won the first half shots battle 5-3, but the best chances fell to the Aussies. Hugo Lloris had to come up with a massive save in the 17th minute, as he prevented an own goal off a free kick.

With the talent on his bench, France manager Didier Deschamps will be eying up a potential switch at halftime or early in the second half. Les Bleus just didn’t create much at all in the first half.

On the third day of the 2018 World Cup, France and Australia are set to face off in their opening game for Group C on Saturday. The game kicks off at 6 a.m. ET from the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, and you can tune in on FOX or Telemundo. You can also stream online in English through FOX here or in Spanish through Telemundo here.

For a team that will face a difficult task of making it out of the group stage, Australia will rely on Tim Cahill and Aaron Mooy to give the Socceroos a shot. France will rely on their talent, with striker Antoine Griezmann and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris leading the way, in order to move through the group stage and into the Round of 16.

France Lineup

Australia Lineup

France vs. Australia time, TV channel, and streaming info

Time: 6 a.m. ET

Location: Kazan Arena, Kazan, Russia

TV: FOX (English), Telemundo (Spanish)

Streaming: Available for free with TV provider through FOX Sports Go (English) or Telemundo Deportes en vivo (Spanish). Also available on subscriptions services like Fubo and Hulu.

Odds: France -1.75 (full odds at OddsShark)

France key player: Antoine Griezmann

Expect to see Australia pack a lot of players deep in defense. They’ll need a star player to wriggle through tight spaces to score in this one, and Griezmann is just the man for the job.

Australia key player: Aaron Mooy

The Aussies won’t have much of the ball against France, but they’ll need to make the most of the chances they do get. Mooy is a great passer from deep and will be asked to spring the Socceroos’ counter-attacks.

France vs. Australia news to read before kickoff

If Spain is this World Cup’s France, what is France now?

A complete debacle with a coach getting fired the day before the World Cup is set to begin? That doesn’t sound much like Spain, at least when it comes to their national team. That’s more something France would do, no? They’re famous for their World Cup coach and team having major blowups right around tournament time.

Australia’s Tim Cahill looking to equal World Cup scoring record

Tim Cahill is looking to emulate Pele, Use Seeler and Miroslav Close by scoring in a fourth World Cup. The 38-year-old former Everton forward is his country’s most prolific international goalscorer with 50 goals in 106 matches, but ha played little club football for the last year.