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Two pens and Pogba: France nips Australia as VAR debuts

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  • France goals: Griezmann (58′), Pogba (80′)
  • Australia goal: Jedinak (62′)
  • Next: Australia-Denmark, France-Peru

Two penalties and an own goal was not how France and Australia wanted their World Cup openers to go, but Les Bleus will take the 2-1 result on Saturday in Kazan.

Aziz Behich’s possible own goal was prodded by Paul Pogba, while Antoine Griezmann scored a PK awarded via Video Assistant Referee and Australia’s Mile Jedinak also buried a penalty.

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Australia came close to a surprise lead off a 19th minute free kick, as Hugo Lloris had to act quickly to slap Corentin Tolisso’s potential own goal away from the France frame.

The first half hour largely belonged to France despite the Socceroos clear desire to disrupt the flow of the match with physical play.

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It didn’t take long into the second half for the World Cup to turn in its VAR card, with Antoine Griezmann’s controversially-won penalty given via video.

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The Socceroos earned their chance to level when Aaron Mooy‘s free kick was handled by Samuel Umtiti in the box.

Jedinak’s converted penalty was Australia’s first shot on target of the match, and came from a player who was questionable to participate in the opener thanks to an injury.

The video helped Pogba prod the winning, or losing, goal out of Behich with the ball turning off the cross bar and just crossing the line with 10 minutes to play.

Three things we learned from France v. USMNT

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The U.S. men’s national team drew 1-1 with France in Lyon on Saturday as the youngsters came close to causing a huge surprise against one of the favorites to win the World Cup this summer.

[ MORE: USMNT player ratings

Julian Green put the USA 1-0 up right on half time to stun France, but Didier Deschamps’ side equalized late on through Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe.

Below is a look at what we learned from Dave Sarachan’s kids impressing against France.


CCV TO LEAD NEW-LOOK DEFENSE

The main reason the USMNT took such a young squad to Europe for these games against Ireland and France as for experience, and these youngster will have learned so much from playing on the road in tight games.

Especially in Lyon against a virtual first-choice France side.

10 of the USA’s starting 11 had less than 10 caps to their name, and that showed in a shaky start in a 3-5-2 formation. But Cameron Carter-Vickers and Matt Miazga looked particularly assured, with both Shaq Moore and Antonee Robinson also impressing at wing back.

CCV and Miazga (who left the game early in the second half after a nasty clash of heads) have played together throughout the U.S. youth ranks and they will now get the chance to shine together for the USMNT. Carter-Vickers was particularly impressive as he stepped in and stopped attacks, plus kept Olivier Giroud quiet. The Tottenham Hotspur youngster is maturing rapidly.

Miazga’s ball-playing ability complements CCV power well and with DeAndre Yedlin and Moore to battle it out for the right back spot, plus Robinson pushing hard to start at left back, a long-term back four of Yedlin-CCV-Miazga-Robinson would be able to develop together over the next few years with all four playing for clubs across the top-flight of European soccer.

A special shoutout for Zack Steffen too, as the Columbus Crew goalkeeper looks to have cemented his spot as the heir to Tim Howard‘s throne as the USMNT’s starting stopper. Steffen came up big late on with a fine double-stop.

It’s a cliche, but you know what: the kids, they’re alright.


USMNT STILL A LONG WAY OFF

Yes, there were some promising displays, especially defensively, but let’s not get carried away here. This was a France side which had one eye on the World Cup kicking off in Russia next week.

And you can totally understand if a few of the French stars didn’t want to get injured and join the long list of heartbreaking World Cup absentees (Manuel Lanzini, Sergio Romero, Kamil Glik et al.) ahead of what is the biggest tournament of their careers so far.

The U.S. bunkered down and barely got in the France half in the first half but when they took the lead, they weathered the storm and despite Mbappe’s equalizer, the USMNT were fairly comfortable. But they were also far from adventurous in what resembled a 5-3-1-1 formation for most of the game.

This draw will give the young group confidence as U.S. Soccer will now focus on implementing Earnie Stewart’s plans as the new GM (appointed on Wednesday) will focus on hiring a new head coach over the summer.

A long, tough road to recovery is ahead but the nucleus of this side which drew at France should be given the chance to lead the USMNT to the World Cup in Qatar in 2022.


WAKE-UP CALL FOR FRANCE

Boos rang out during spells of the game in Lyon as the home fans weren’t overjoyed with what they saw from their team in their final outing before flying to Russia on Sunday.

A virtual full-strength France started well but faded badly.

Didier Deschamps is under pressure (he has been for a while) and with the likes of Arsene Wenger and Zinedine Zidane now out of jobs, it’s likely that anything other than a trip to the World Cup final this summer will see the current France boss keep his job.

France looked disjointed and although Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba came close to scoring in the first half, they never really got out of second gear. Hugo Lloris shouldn’t have been beaten at his near post for the USA’s goal and Djibril Sidibe should have cleared the initial cross as a lapse in concentration cost Les Bleus.

Placed in Group C along with Denmark, Peru and Australia, France are still expected to get out of their group and go far this summer in Russia. But unless Deschamps’ men gel remarkably fast in the next few weeks, they won’t go all the way.

USMNT youngsters lead the way in 1-1 draw with France

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Seven days before kicking off its 2018 World Cup campaign, Didier Deschamps’ France side is reeling, confused and disheveled, following a ropey 1-1 draw with a U.S. men’s national team comprised of youngsters playing solely for the 2022 tournament at Groupama Stadium in Lyon on Saturday.

[ MORE: Player ratingsThree things we learned ]

To say the stats were lopsided would be the understatement of the year — 70 percent of possession; 350 more passes; 17 shots to 1 (6-1 on target) — and yet, Julian Green’s first-half goal counted just the same as Kylian Mbappe’s late equalizer.

Paul Pogba set in motion the one-way traffic of chances inside the game’s first five minutes, when he smashed the left-hand post of Zack Steffen with a strike from 22 yards out. Steffen hadn’t yet touched the ball, and was so nearly forced to pick it out of his goal with his first touch. A sign of things to come.

Olivier Giroud forced Steffen into a save five minutes later, and Antoine Griezmann flashed a left-footed effort across the face of goal and just wide of the far post midway through the first half.

The Yanks completed their 45-minute smash-and-grab job through Green in the 44th minute, as the 23-year-old collected the ball eight yards from goal and quickly uncorked a near-post shot which left Hugo Lloris baffled and helpless (WATCH HERE).

[ MORE: Team-by-team 2018 World Cup previews ]

Interim head coach Dave Sarachan deployed three center backs, flanked by wing backs Antonee Robinson and Shaquell Moore, and the likes of Matt Miazga (for 60 minutes), Tim Parker and Cameron Carter-Vickers bent but refused to break for more than 75 minutes, even with the overwhelming majority of the game’s scoring chances coming at their end of the field.

Miazga and Olivier Giroud were forced off right on the hour mark after the Chelsea defender and forward were involved in a head-to-head collision which left both players covered in blood from head to shoulders.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

It took 78 minutes, but finally Les Bleus broke through with their 14th shot of the game. Mbappe found a pocket of space near the penalty spot, and Benjamin Pavard found him with a low cross into the box. Steffen had no chance as Mbappe redirected his shot toward the far post.

The next time the Red, White and Blue take the field, it’ll (presumably) be with a new head coach in charge to face Brazil and Mexico in a pair of September friendlies.

Hope springs eternal.

AT THE HALF: USMNT… leads(!!) France on Julian Green goal

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Let’s paint a lopsided picture of the first half between the U.S. men’s national team and France, because it well… well, lopsided:

  • Possession: France 65%-35% USA
  • Total passes: France 337-186 USA
  • Shots: France 6-1 USA
  • Shots on target: France 3-1 USA

Alas, the score after 45 minutes at Groupama Stadium in Lyon: France 0, USA 1.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT faces giants France in big test ]

The likes of Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe (among others) were unable to unlock the USMNT’s five-man backline and truly test goalkeeper Zack Steffen. On the other end of the field, Julian Green — yes, that Julian Green — in his first senior team stint since 2016, beat Hugo Lloris inside his near post in the 44th minute, the Yanks’ first shot of the game, to make it 1-0. It wasn’t the greatest piece of goalkeeping you’ll ever see.

Live: USMNT face France in big test

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The U.S. Men’s National Team has shown signs of promise amongst its youth in recent friendlies, but Saturday’s test will be a massive one as they head to Lyon to take on World Cup-bound France.

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Les Bleus will meet the Stars and Stripes in their final pre-World Cup tune-up, while the Americans play their last match before their next set of friendlies in September.

The partnership of Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie will be one to watch again for the U.S., while PSG attacker Tim Weah starts on the bench.

Meanwhile, France boasts an incredibly talented roster, which features various Premier Leaguers, such as Chelsea’s N'Golo Kante and Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba.


France: Hugo Lloris, Dijbril Sidibe, Samuel Umtiti, Raphael Varane, Benjamin Mendy, N’Golo Kante, Blaise Matuidi, Paul Pogba, Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann.

USMNT: Zach Steffen, Antonee Robinson, Tim Parker, Matt Miazga, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Shaq Moore, Wil Trapp, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Julian Green, Bobby Wood.