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Player ratings as Les Bleus begin World Cup defence with comeback win

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France had to come from a goal down to beat Australia in their opening World Cup group stage match.

Didier Deschamps’ world champions fell behind early on but rallied back with a superb team performance.

The Aussies took a shock lead after just nine minutes after Harry Souttar’s cross-field ball was met by Matthew Leckie, who cut inside Lucas Hernandez and crossed for Craig Goodwin to fire into the roof of the net.

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Australia went close to doubling their advantage soon after when Theo Hernandez – on for his injured brother – surrendered possession too easily to Mitchell Duke, whose strike flittered narrowly wide of the post.

However, France found a leveller with 27 minutes on the clock when a cleared corner fell to Hernandez, and his cross was headed home by Adrien Rabiot from mere yards out.

The champions went in front not long after having won the ball back high up the pitch, with Nathaniel Atkinson robbed by Kylian Mbappe and Rabiot. The latter then selflessly squared for Olivier Giroud to tap into an empty net.

After recovering from their early setback, France were beginning to play their way through Australia. Mbappe was continuing to run rings round Atkinson and Antoine Griezmann fired wide from 20 yards.

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Mbappe somehow volleyed a cross from Griezmann over the top from six yards out on the stroke of half-time, before Jackson Irvine headed against the post in stoppage time.

Just after the break, Giroud came close with an acrobatic overhead kick which licked the paint of Mat Ryan’s upright.

A last-ditch challenge from Kye Rowles kept Mbappe from getting on the scoresheet after a lovely one-two with Giroud, and Griezmann had a shot from 18 yards cleared off the line by Aziz Behich.

Mbappe at last got on the scoresheet midway through the second half when he leapt high to nod in a cleverly chipped cross from Ousmane Dembele.

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Giroud then tied Thierry Henry’s record as France’s all-time scorer with a header of his own from an Mbappe cross in the minutes that followed Les Bleus’ third.

Ibrahima Konate forced Ryan into a flying save with his first touch of the ball, with the former Brighton stopper flying across his line to deny the header Hernandez had a header of his own kept out seconds later.

France’s victory was confirmed following seven minutes of stoppage time, becoming the first reigning world champion to win their opening group stage match since Brazil in 2006.

Olivier Giroud, Didier Deschamps

It was a proud night for Giroud / Stu Forster/GettyImages

GK: Hugo Lloris – 5/10 – Couldn’t do a lot about either the goal or Australia’s best attacks.

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RB: Benjamin Pavard – 5/10 – Worked his socks off but only after he lost the run of Goodwin for the first goal.

CB: Ibrahima Konate – 6/10 – Wasn’t the finest of performances but it didn’t really matter too much.

CB: Dayot Upamecano – 6/10 – Distribution was sometimes askew. Why William Saliba or Jules Kounde didn’t start is a mystery.

LB: Lucas Hernandez – N/A – Injured his knee in the lead up to Australia’s opener and was replaced by his brother.

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CM: Aurelien Tchouameni – 7/10 – Seemed overawed at first but grew into the game.

CM: Adrien Rabiot – 8/10 – Carried his surprisingly resurgent club form onto the international stage with a hard-earned goal and assist.

RM: Ousmane Dembele – 8/10 – Played to feet a bit more than he would’ve liked but he dug in deep and was a huge asset.

AM: Antoine Griezmann – 8/10 – Dropped into midfield to form a three at times. Still so important to this France side.

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LM: Kylian Mbappe – 9/10 – Australia’s only way of dealing with Mbappe was to hope he would miss his shots.

CF: Olivier Giroud – 9/10 – Works in tandem so well with Griezmann and Mbappe. Good value for his goals and his record.

SUB: Theo Hernandez (13′ for L. Hernandez) – 7/10 – Despite a nervy start, he showed he was much better suited to this system than Lucas.

SUB: Youssouf Fofana (77′ for Tchouameni) – N/A

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SUB: Kingsley Coman (77′ for Dembele) – N/A

SUB: Jules Kounde (89′ for Pavard) – N/A

SUB: Marcus Thuram (89′ for Giroud) – N/A

Manager: Didier Deschamps – 7/10 – France love a good implosion and they could’ve fallen apart after going behind, but Deschamps and his troops rallied. A fine performance.

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Craig Goodwin

Goodwin scored the shock opener / Clive Mason/GettyImages

GK: Mat Ryan – 5/10 – Called into action on several occasions. Can’t really be blamed for the goals.

RB: Nathaniel Atkinson – 3/10 – Torn to shreds by Mbappe, but there’s no shame in that.

CB: Harry Souttar – 6/10 – The Outback Maguire. Got his head on seemingly everything and his range of passing was a massive plus.

CB: Kye Rowles – 5/10 – Defended with his heart on his sleeve.

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LB: Aziz Behich – 5/10 – Slowed Dembele down at least but couldn’t totally stop him.

CM: Riley McGree – 5/10 – Had an early sight of goal, but then spent much of the game chasing shadows.

CM: Aaron Mooy – 4/10 – Looked leggy from the off.

CM: Jackson Irvine – 5/10 – Like McGree had his moments bursting up the pitch, but ultimately they were only moments.

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RW: Matthew Leckie – 6/10 – Grabbed a great assist, but lost his man in Rabiot for France’s equaliser.

CF: Mitchell Duke – 5/10 – Ran his socks off before being replaced by Cummings.

LW: Craig Goodwin – 7/10 – A goal he’ll never forget. His early runs caused Pavard to play a cautious game.

SUB: Jason Cummings (56′ for Duke) – 4/10

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SUB: Awer Mabil (74′ for McGree) – N/A

SUB: Garang Kuol (74′ for Goodwin) – N/A

SUB: Keanu Baccus (85′ for Irvine) – N/A

SUB: Milos Degenek (85′ for Atkinson) – N/A

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Manager: Graham Arnold – 5/10 – Australia did all they could and that’s a credit to Arnold.

Player of the Match – Kylian Mbappe



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Monterrey signs midfielder Jordi Cortizo from Puebla

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Rayados de Monterrey have signed midfielder Jordi Cortizo from Club Puebla, ahead of the 2023 Liga MX Clausura. 

He joins the Guadalajara team on a four-season contract, according to Diego Armando Medina of TUDN.

“I have been delighted since the opportunity to come here was given, I always knew that I had to make a leap to these big leagues with one of the biggest clubs in Mexico,” Cortizo said of his transfer. 

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Cortizo kicked off his professional career with Queretaro in 2017, recording four goals in 76 appearances over the course of three years before seeing stints with Tijuana and Puebla. He managed well in Liga MX, but it wasn’t until the 2022 Apertura that he became a standout. 

The offensive midfielder recorded five goals in 20 overall matches to inspire Puebla to eighth on the table and the Liguilla quarterfinals. 

Overall, Cortizo has 12 goals in 149 Liga MX appearances. 

“They are going to see a player who always tries, that will never fail, who will go for the ball, will try to play, propose offensive play, go forward and who will always give himself up for the club. It is my dream to be champion of the Liga MX, there is no better option today than to be sitting here and with this squad to achieve it,” he said.

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Cortizo stands as the first signing under new Monterrey president Jose Antonio Noriega, who replaced Duilio Davino  following the team’s elimination from the 2022 Apertura. Upon his arrival, Noriega insisted he needed to evaluate the team’s needs before making drastic changes. 

But the arrival of Jordi Cortizo will now set off the several moves already planned. 

The 2023 Liga MX Clausura kicks off on January 6.



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Club America sign defender Israel Reyes from Puebla

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Club America has finally signed defender Israel Reyes from Club Puebla.

He stands as the team’s first reinforcement ahead of the 2023 Liga MX Clausura, joining on a four-year contract.  The Mexico City team reportedly paid $4.5M for Reyes, after he established himself as one of the most promising defenders in the Mexican league.

Reyes kicked off his professional career with Atlas in 2019, before quickly securing a loan deal to Puebla. After 19 games with the Franja, the team exercised his purchase option to make Reyes a staple of the backline. 

But it wasn’t until the 2022 Apertura that he became a standout in the Mexican league. The 22-year-old managed three goals in 17 games of the 2022 Apertura, inspiring Puebla to eighth place in the regular season and the Liguilla quarterfinals. 

Overall, he recorded six goals in 76 appearances with Puebla before joining Club America.

Internationally, the player holds one cap with the Mexican national team. He made his debut on December 8, 2021, coming on as a substitute in the 68th minute of a friendly against Chile.

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England vs Senegal: Confirmed lineups

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England vs Senegal: Confirmed lineups

On Sunday, England and Senegal, their opponents in the last-16 of the World Cup, square off at Al Bayt Stadium in a battle for a spot in the quarterfinals.

The Three Lions take on the Lions of Teranga, who advanced to the knockout stages thanks to a crucial intervention from their captain, in a first-ever meeting after Gareth Southgate’s team defeated Wales to win Group B.

Line-up

England XI: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Rice, Henderson, Bellingham; Saka, Foden, Kane.  

Senegal XI: E. Mendy; Sabaly, Koulibaly, Diallo, Jakobs; Ciss, N. Mendy; Diatta, Ndiaye, Sarr; Dia. 

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