Antoine Griezmann scored the first penalty given by VAR in World Cup history as France edged past Australia 2-1 Saturday in their Group C opener.
France was a long way from its best at Kazan Arena, with its heralded attacking trio of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele failing to ignite against a dogged Australian team.
After a disjointed first half, the game sparked to life shortly after halftime as referee Andres Cunha awarded a penalty to France after consulting VAR and deciding that Josh Risdon had clipped Griezmann just inside the area.
The Atletico Madrid striker's goal was cancelled out just four minutes later by another penalty. A handball in the area by Samuel Umtiti gave Australia a penalty kick, and midfielder Mile Jedinak converted to make it 1-1.
France appeared to be heading for a disappointing World Cup start, but Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba saw his deflected effort bounce off the crossbar and narrowly over the line 10 minutes from time to secure all three points.
France will hope for a more fluid performance Thursday against Peru; Australia's next opponent is Denmark.
Les Bleus had started the game in ominous fashion, carving out three chances in the opening six minutes.
First, Mbappe was denied from an acute angle by Mat Ryan before the Australia goalkeeper comfortably held a Pogba free kick and Griezmann's half volley from distance in quick succession.
Australia weathered that early storm, though, and came close to taking the lead after 17 minutes.
Aaron Mooy's teasing free kick from the left was diverted toward his own goal by Corentin Tolisso, but a scrambling Hugo Lloris was able to turn it around the post.
France's early verve was sorely lacking for the remainder of the half, with Australia able to keep its more illustrious opponents comfortably at arm's length before halftime.
The game finally burst into life 10 minutes into the second half with Griezmann's historic goal.
Risdon had appeared to get away with his tackle on the marauding striker, but after a consultation with VAR, the referee spotted an illegal clip on the Atletico striker's heel and awarded a penalty kick.
Australia bounced back quickly, getting the equalizer four minutes later.
Umtiti's bizarre decision to handle Mooy's free kick allowed Jedinak to coolly beat Lloris for the equalizer.
But Pogba saved the day for France, sending a stabbed effort toward goal from the edge of the area that was diverted past Ryan by Aziz Behich to get the French off to a winning start.