France 4-1 Australia: Olivier Giroud matches Thierry Henry goal record in emphatic comeback win for holders

History-maker: Olivier Giroud joined Thierry Henry as France’s joint-highest scorer ever  (AP)
History-maker: Olivier Giroud joined Thierry Henry as France’s joint-highest scorer ever (AP)

Olivier Giroud joined Thierry Henry as France’s leading goalscorer of all-time as the defending champions opened their latest World Cup title defence with a confident 4-1 comeback win over Australia in Group D.

The former Arsenal and Chelsea striker made it 51 goals in 115 senior caps with an effort in each half at Al Wakrah’s Al Janoub stadium to underline injury-hit Les Bleus’ remarkable strength in depth without the likes of Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema and Bundesliga top scorer Christopher Nkunku, both lost to injuries suffered in training in the days leading up to the tournament.

The electric Kylian Mbappe was also on target with a header after Adrien Rabiot had initially netted to cancel out Adam Goodwin’s shock opener inside 10 minutes that raised questions over another almighty World Cup upset on day three after Lionel Messi and Argentina sensationally fell to Group C rivals Saudi Arabia in Lusail earlier in the afternoon.

However, despite seeing Lucas Hernandez join a lengthy injury list that also contains the likes of Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante and Presnel Kimpembe, France quickly turned things around with two-goal bursts in each half to take early control of the group after an earlier stalemate between Denmark and Tunisia.

The Danes are next up for Didier Deschamps’ men in Doha on Saturday, when they can all but seal their place in the last-16. Australia, meanwhile, must get a result against Tunisia back in Al Wakrah to keep their own knockout hopes alive after a spirited effort in which they were only one goal behind with just over 20 minutes to play before eventually succumbing to an obvious gulf in quality.

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