AL WAKRAH, Qatar (AP) — France showed it can cope without its star striker at the World Cup.
Kylian Mbappe scored one and set up the second of Olivier Giroud’s two goals to help the defending champions beat Australia 4-1 Tuesday.
Giroud equaled Thierry Henry’s national record of 51 goals with a header from Mbappe’s cross in the 71st minute. Giroud, who failed to score at the last World Cup but did find the net at the 2014 tournament, can break Henry’s record when France faces Denmark on Saturday.
Moments before that strike, Mbappe headed in Ousmane Dembele’s cross from the right to start this World Cup as he finished the last — with a goal. He knelt with one hand behind his back and his finger on his forehead in a new celebration.
Craig Goodwin gave Australia the lead when he turned in winger Mathew Leckie’s cross in the ninth minute. France midfielder Adrien Rabiot equalized with a powerful header in the 27th and set up Giroud’s first goal shortly after.
France was playing without the injured Karim Benzema, who was ruled out of the World Cup last week.
The Socceroos were pumped up and the green-and-gold Aussie fans were loving it. They even mocked Mbappe with chants of “Who are ya? Who are ya?” after he lost the ball dribbling down the left.
That’s as good as it got for them.
Theo Hernandez curled in a cross for Rabiot to score his first World Cup goal — four years after refusing to go on France’s standby list in case of injuries. He even emailed France coach Didier Deschamps to be taken off the list and was dropped from the national team for two years.
It’s been some comeback for Rabiot. He’s now leading a midfield missing the injured Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante — France’s engine room the 2018 World Cup.
AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports