Goodwin was there waiting, and he had the poise to seize his moment and hit the ball into the roof of the net, past a helpless Hugo Lloris, becoming only the second South Australian to score in a World Cup after John Aloisi. It was the Socceroos’ first goal in open play since Brazil 2014, and their first time leading in a World Cup match since those dreamy four minutes in Porto Alegre, between Mile Jedinak’s penalty and Robin’s quick return van Persie for the Netherlands.
1-0 to Australia. Imagination ran wild. They were playing out of their skins. Was this real? Can be this? were they on? How long could this go on?
But as France applied more and more pressure and began to pick off the Socceroos’ defenders one by one, it felt more and more inevitable that they would fight back. They did it, in minute 27, through a recycled corner. Australia cleared the danger initially, but not enough. Theo Hernández, who had come on for his injured brother, handed a beautiful ball to Adrien Rabiot, and he nodded. It was that simple.
And it got simpler, six minutes later. Maty Ryan played off a goal kick, past Jackson Irvine, past Atkinson, past…France. His heavy touch was an unnecessary invitation. Rabiot pounced, got into the pocket and played the ball back to Olivier Giroud. 2-1.
From there, the Socceroos were lucky to stay in the game: chances piled up for Les Bleus, and Mbappe should have scored the third on 45 minutes when he sent Antoine Griezmann’s cross over the bar from close range, a lazy ending unbecoming of a player of his caliber. So many other moments as if he were begging.
In response, out of nowhere, Riley McGree lobbed a ball into the penalty area from the end line and Jackson Irvine rose to receive it. His header had defeated Lloris, but not the left post. It was Australia’s last real moment of attack importance. They barely saw the ball again.
The dangers kept coming on the other side of the break. Giroud nearly scored France’s third goal with a scissor shot that went wide. Behich cleared a Griezmann attempt off the line. Then the dam wall was breached.
Dembélé’s center, Mbappé’s glancing header. Boom. Three minutes later, a cross from Mbappé and Giroud’s second goal brought him level with Thierry Henry on a record 51 goals for France.
Arnold emptied his bench, sent Jason Cummings for the ineffective Mitch Duke and fielded Garang Kuol, who became Australia’s youngest player at the World Cup, and Awer Mabil on the wings. The problem was that the Socceroos first needed to gain possession of France in order to threaten through them. Ultimately, Les Bleus showed mercy through their waste. Back to reality, back to the drawing board.
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