KAZAN, Russia (Reuters) - The VAR penalty that helped France defeat Australia in their World Cup opener was the “strangest” moment of Mile Jedinak’s career, the Socceroos captain said on Sunday.
The Australia midfield stalwart was left bamboozled after defender Josh Risdon was penalized on review for bringing striker Antoine Griezmann down during the 2-1 loss at Kazan Arena on Saturday.
“I think on the pitch at the time, the fact the play kept going was the strangest thing I’ve encountered,” said 33-year-old Jedinak of the decision, which put France 1-0 up early in the second half.
“By all accounts it’s in their rights to do that, and we have to accept it and move forward, as harsh as that may be.
“I think it changes a few things about refereeing, maybe they will hesitate to make decisions and get calls from up top, we’ve still got to play the game and focus on it.
“If I say I am frustrated by the decision I wouldn’t be lying, but the score says 2-1 and it’s a yellow card to Josh Risdon.”
Jedinak leveled the match minutes after the decision, hammering a spot-kick into the net after Samuel Umtiti was penalized for handball.
But Paul Pogba scored the winner for France late on, leaving the Socceroos frustrated and needing a result against Denmark in Samara on Thursday to keep alive their hopes of advancing to the knockout rounds.
Denmark beat Peru 1-0 in Saransk on Saturday and are second behind France in Group C on goal difference.
Australia won plenty of admiration for their dogged defensive effort against France’s star-studded lineup, and Aston Villa veteran Jedinak was typically physical, with a number of challenges that may have left a few bruises on his opponents.
Yet the 33-year-old was uncertain whether he would even feature in Australia’s World Cup opener until a few hours before the match.
Coach Bert van Marwijk brought winger Mathew Leckie to his pre-match news conference rather than Jedinak, fanning speculation that the Dutchman might hand the captain’s arm-band to another player.
“That’s his way, the manager decides and you respect that,” Jedinak said.
“We gave a very good account of ourselves and pushed a team right to the limit, a French team that are tipped to go on and do big things,” Jedinak said.
“I did stress to make sure you feel that disappointment, but use it as fuel to make sure that we do the business in the coming games.”
Editing by Ed Osmond