Paul Pogba’s late goal broke Australian resistance as France started with a win in Group C and history was made with the World Cup’s first VAR goal.
The video assistant referee penalised Australia’s Josh Risdon for a sliding challenge on Antoine Griezmann, allowing the Atletico Madrid forward to dispatch a penalty, the first World Cup goal influenced by VAR.
However, a moment of madness from French defender Samuel Umtiti, who handled Aaron Mooy’s free-kick, enabled Australia to equalise through Mile Jedinak’s penalty in Kazan.
And they looked on course to hold one of the pre-tournament favourites until Pogba’s lobbed effort deflected off Australia full-back Aziz Behich and the crossbar to fall inches over the goal-line.
Amid the large clusters of gold provided by around 10,000 Socceroos supporters, France initially assumed control of this Group C opener despite the long journey from their Moscow training base.
Kylian Mbappe sparkled early on, racing beyond the Australia backline to test goalkeeper Mat Ryan after 93 seconds.
That sparked a concerted offensive by Didier Deschamps’ team but Australia stemmed the tide as the half progressed.
Going behind stirred Australia into a response in the second period and Aston Villa’s Jedinak converted a penalty after Umtiti had senselessly handled another dangerous Mooy delivery.
But Pogba’s winner, confirmed by goal-line technology, ensured France opened the tournament with three points.