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Australia vs France reaction, highlights, goals, Socceroos hammered

Former Socceroos captain Craig Foster has questioned why Nathaniel Atkinson was not substituted earlier as the Australian fullback predictably struggled to handle the toughest individual assignment in world football.

Atkinson was tasked with marking France superstar Kylian Mbappe, who proceeded to torment the 23-year-old Tasmanian with his breathtaking pace and power.

Mbappe scored one goal and set up another as the defending World Cup champions recovered from Craig Goodwin’s opening goal to record a comfortable 4-1 win.

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Atkinson was eventually pulled in the 85th minute for Milos Degenek but Foster felt Socceroos coach Graham Arnold should have pulled the trigger much earlier.

“We were 2-1 down (at halftime) but we were also conceding a lot of good chances, and it was clear, 45 minutes against Mbappe, it was clear he was doing superbly well on that side, so we thought maybe he was going to change Atkinson earlier,” Foster said on SBS.

“He got through an incredible amount of work. I was surprised it took so long to change. Very close to the end of the game. You’re against the finest player in the world.”

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Early in the match, Socceroos fans 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.

Mbappe headed in Ousmane Dembele’s cross from the right in the 68th minute 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.

Olivier Giroud then equalled Thierry Henry’s national record of 51 goals with a header from Mbappe’s cross in the 71st minute.

Socceroos great Mark Bosnich has doffed his cap to France megastar Kylian Mbappe, who scored a goal and set up another while tormenting Australia in the 4-1 win.

“Absolutely outstanding (from Mbappe), after a nervous start by the whole French side,” Socceroos great Mark Bosnich said on SBS.

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“He wasn’t the only one. They really got a grip of the game and in all fairness it could have been more. Some clearances off the line.

“Mbappe himself missed an unbelievable chance in the first half. For the first 10 minutes, you have to say, Australia done really well, but after that you saw the reasons why they are reigning world champions, and also the depth in their squad as well.

“Well done to France. In my opinion, they will go deep into the tournament.”

Another former Socceroos star, John Aloisi, pulled no punches in analysing the performance.

“Atkinson I thought had a poor game. But it’s not only him,” Aloisi, now the coach of Western United, said on SBS.

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“Imagine how the players are feeling, because they got completely outclassed.

“We weren’t in the game after our goal. That was it, that was us done, and they completely dominated us and created chance after chance.

“We didn’t find a way, a solution. Arnie (Socceroos coach Graham Arnold) spoke about how he was happy with the first half.

“I would say happy with the first 15 minutes but after that they dominated us.”

France was playing without the injured Karim Benzema, who was ruled out of the World Cup last week.

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But France showed it can cope without the Ballon d’Or winner as Giroud, 36, scored a brace.

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 Sunday.

“It’s not just about chasing records but what he always does on the field,” France coach Didier Deschamps said.

“He’s a very important player for us.”

Deschamps also joked that Mbappe could now become even more lethal.

“He always dreams about scoring headers, so if he starts doing that he’ll be even more dangerous,” Deschamps said, cracking a smile.

“I knew he would be ready tonight because this is his competition.”

The only dampener for Les Bleus was an injury to star defender Lucas Hernandez.

“He needs to have tests but unfortunately it does look pretty serious,” Deschamps said.

“That’s the real low point about tonight.”

Australia’s next match is against Tunisia on Saturday.

Tunisia drew 0-0 with Denmark in their opener.

“We will pick the boys up, for sure,” Arnold said.

“They should be proud of their commitment, effort that they gave, but again, they are the world champions for a reason.”

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