Didier Deschamps started with a conservative starting 11 as France missed out on a chance to establish their title credentials.
France had demonstrated why they entered the match as clear favourites, their crisp passing, time and composure on the ball separating them from the more pedestrian Socceroos.
But after another steady 15 minutes to open the second stanza, Australia's stoic display was undone when Aaron Mooy bought every piece of candy N'golo Kante was selling and France charged straight through the heart of our defence.
"People are using extreme words to say how bad this performance was, but it is not so bad to win your first match at the World Cup". On a couple of times occasion France were left waiting for a ball to be used to the corner. The team's defence is solid and they were unlucky in the end.
Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti inexplicably handled a free-kick in the box, allowing Socceroos captain Jedinak to calmly send Lloris the wrong way. The Spurs skipper dived low to his left to prevent an own goal even as Sainsbury looked to tap in the rebound.
"You can see today they (Australia) play very well, defend very well, they play altogether".More news: Watch Phil Mickelson Intentionally Hit Moving Ball At U.S. Open
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. Risdon was caught napping as he brought down Griezmann just inside the box.
The VAR almost came into play within minutes of that opening goal, when Samuel Umtiti left his arm up in the air so that the ball would hit his hand, but, this time Cunha, after taking a couple of seconds, awarded Australia the penalty, without the need of technology.
Australia, who felt aggrieved as defender Risdon appeared to have touched the ball before tripping Griezmann with his follow-through, quickly levelled through Mile Jedinak's spot-kick, before a late goal from Paul Pogba clinched victory for France.
They worked hard in their pre-tournament camp in Turkey to build fitness and structure, and maximise their hopes of emerging from a tough group featuring 11th-ranked Peru and 12th-ranked Denmark. With his back towards goal, the Chelsea man was found by a rapidly advancing Pogba.
With the win, France managed to secure three points in the Group C opener.
Though they won, the style with which they went about it will cause concern for France fans.
Racism has dogged the Russian game for decades and FIFA last month fined the national football association over chants directed at black players during a friendly against France.