Paul Pogba is mobbed after grabbing the winner.

Pogba wins group opener for France

Paul Pogba was hugely influential in France kicking off their World Cup campaign with a 2-1 victory over Australia.

Les Bleus had a quiet first half, with Pogba's free-kick easily held by Mathew Ryan in the fifth minute, but the game sprung into life after the break. A slide-rule pass by the Manchester United midfielder rolled towards Antoine Griezmann, only for Joshua Risdon to make a desperate tackle.

Play continued but referee Andres Cunha decided to consult VAR and, after some deliberation, pointed to the spot. Ignoring the Socceroo's protests, Griezmann stepped up to slam the penalty past Ryan.

Paul Pogba earns a hug from Hugo Lloris.
A hug from Hugo: Pogba is embraced by keeper and captain Lloris.

Samuel Umtiti's careless handball quickly offered Australia a route back into the game, calmly accepted by Mile Jedinak, who placed the spot-kick past Hugo Lloris. The game appeared to be heading for a draw, with France struggling to impose themselves on proceedings.

That was until Pogba took charge around the 80-minute mark, playing one-twos with Kylian Mbappe and substitute Olivier Giroud and driving purposefully into the box. As he attempted to finish the move, the ball flicked off full-back Aziz Behich and crashed against the underside of the bar. Goalline technology showed it had crossed the line and, after another short delay to check VAR, the goal was given. 

Paul Pogba says

"For my goal, I was helped a lot by the defender. If you score with your ears, nose, foot - as long as it goes in, it's good."

“It's a World Cup match,” Pogba told TF1 afterwards. “There are no small teams. Australia have done very well. It's a nice team. It will be like that throughout the World Cup.

”It was very important to get the first victory, but it was difficult. We did not let it go. For my goal, I was helped a lot by the defender. If you score with your ears, nose, foot - as long as it goes in, it's good.

France face Peru in their next match and will be buoyed by the three-point start, with many predicting the team can go a long way in Russia.

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