Blue murder: Aussies cry foul over Cup controversy
DEJA vu, anyone?
And no, we're not just saying that because we've caught French fever.
As happened in 2006 and 2010, once again a controversial penalty crushed Aussie spirits in a heartbreaking World Cup loss.
The French defeated the Socceroos 2-1 in Kazan on Saturday night as 90 minutes of drama came down to key moments that went against the men in gold. One in particular left the players, coach and a former great grasping for answers.
AUSSIES CRY BLUE MURDER
Just like Lucas Neill's tackle on Fabio Grosso in 2006 and Harry Kewell complaining about being sent off for a handball four years later in South Africa, this time it was Josh Risdon who found himself in the limelight for all the wrong reasons.
Just before the hour mark the right back tracked back as French striker Antoine Griezmann chased a through-ball deep into Australian territory. Griezmann had front position and Risdon slid from behind on the edge of the box - appearing at first to have pulled off a memorable tackle.
Griezmann went down in a theatrical display as his teammates appealed for a penalty but the referee waved play on and the Aussies breathed a sigh of relief. That was until the ball went out and the whistleblower called for the use of video technology - VAR - to take a closer look at Risdon's challenge.
After viewing several replays the man in charge changed his mind and pointed to the spot, overturning his decision after deciding Risdon got the man, not the ball.
Griezmann slotted the penalty and gave his side a 1-0 lead, but plenty in the Aussie camp didn't believe the goal should have stood.
Asked if he believed it was a penalty, Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk said: "For my feeling, no.
"From my position, I couldn't see it really well, I thought at first it was no penalty."
Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan was confident Risdon did nothing wrong, saying the defender told him he'd got a toe to the ball before making any contact with Griezmann.
"I just asked Josh then and he said he touched the ball. On the replay inside the stadium it didn't look conclusive," Ryan said. "From where I was it looked like there was a little deviation (from Risdon touching the ball).
"The ball continued on and he (Griezmann) fell later after that but it happens time and time again.
"If it was an English referee they probably wouldn't give it."
Captain Mile Jedinak suggested the ball was propelled forward by Risdon's boot.
"We just didn't have that luck. The first decision - the ball seemed to keep going and he (Griezmann) got the shout," he said.
Central defender Trent Sainsbury said: "I'm not a massive fan of VAR, never have been. It's not changed my mind today."
'I COULD HAVE SWORN HE TOUCHED IT'
Socceroos great turned SBS football analyst Craig Foster understood why the decision to rule a Risdon foul was reached but believed - after looking at the replays multiple times - it wasn't a penalty.
Foster said Risdon only collected Griezmann in his follow-through after he'd knocked the ball away.
"I'm still not convinced by the penalty against Australia," he said. "I thought I saw a replay that showed that Risdon had touched the ball.
"The ball was hit - I thought it was hit against Griezmann and then was rolling through anyway.
"So the follow through on Griezmann I thought was immaterial and in fact so confident I was, I was surprised they went to the VAR so I must have seen it completely differently to everyone else.
"I thought on the coverage that the immediate replay we saw, I was comfortable with it. Because in the first instance I thought it could be (a penalty) and when I saw the replay we sat here and I said, 'Fantastic tackle, well done. He's got something on it, it's hit Griezmann and gone.'
"The follow-through brings him down but if you've got the ball, hit it against him, it's out of the way - that's immaterial.
"The first two replays are the ones we saw on the coverage and I could have sworn he touched it.
"It looks as though it (the ball) deviates slightly or maybe it's just the emotion of the moment."
Former Socceroos defender Craig Moore was calling the game for SBS and initially thought it was a clean tackle, but changed his mind after seeing the replays.
"From the vision I did see up here, maybe my eyes aren't great, but it kind of looked as if there was no contact made (with the ball), therefore the penalty was the right decision," Moore said.
ONE 'GALLANT' DEFEAT TOO MANY?
Australia was supposed to be overrun - no match for a French team many pundits expect to win the entire World Cup.
But as the Socceroos have done so often on the world stage, they punched above their weight.
The opening 10 minutes were ominous for those wearing green and gold as France peppered Mat Ryan in goal with four shots before it seemed like the Aussies had even touched the ball.
But Jedinak and Co. stepped it up a gear and put on a show to make fans proud. Gutsy defence was the hallmark of a performance that frustrated the French for large periods of time - thanks mainly to the excellent work of centre backs Sainsbury and Mark Milligan.
The Aussies won plenty of fans with their determined rearguard but there was still a sense of a chance gone begging. Fox Sports football reporter Daniel Garb said there were only so many "gallant defeats" we can take before something needs to give.
"If Australia can defend like that then the rest of it should click. There is reason to feel confident about Australia getting out of this group - they are right in it now," Garb said.
"That's the important thing to take out of it even though we have reason to feel hard done by and reason to feel sick of all these gallant defeats because there's too many to be honest that are piling up.
"We want to start knocking off one of these big fish."
France captain Hugo Lloris said the way the Aussies set up in defence made them hard to break down - even if he did point to a bumpy pitch as a reason behind his side's less-than-fluent attack.
"It's been tough until the end. Mentally we were ready for that. The type of game that we expected. They were really compact and it was difficult to put intensity in performance, you know," he said.
French coach Didier Deschamps said: "It was a highly difficult match, it was complicated, the Australian team was very good."