France defeated 10-man Honduras 3-0 in a World Cup match that saw goal-line technology used to prove Les Blues‘ second strike was legitimate. Karim Benzema broke the deadlock from the penalty spot, goalkeeper Noel Valladares scored an own goal before Benzema grabbed his second of the game in Porto Alegre.
France enjoyed the better of the first half, twice going close as Valladares palmed Blaise Matuidi’s shot onto the woodwork before Antoine Griezmann’s header also hit the crossbar.
Just before half-time, Wilson Palacios received his second yellow of the match after he bundled over Paul Pogba in the box. Benzema stepped up and slammed home the penalty kick.
France doubled their lead three minutes into the second half. Benzema saw his shot clip the woodwork and bounce down off Valladares, who attempted to claw the ball out only for the goal to be awarded by goal-line technology.
Benzema did get his second goal before full-time, though, as he lashed into the roof of the net, sealing three points for France in their opening Group E game.
As well as the three points, France will be just as happy to have departed without serious injury after 90 minutes of late tackles and physical intimidation from their limited opponents.
France wasted no time setting the pace, with Griezemann and Mathieu Valbuena both impressive.
Griezemann, making his first competitive start, had a fine chance to open the scoring in the sixth minute when he took a poor clearance on the chest and saw his goalbound effort blocked.
Valbuena and Mathieu Debuchy were enjoying plenty of joy down the right and the former’s cross caused Valladares to fumble.
Honduras invited pressure with a series of fouls that allowed Valbuena to send a series of testing free-kicks into the danger area.
Matuidi nearly scored from a half-cleared Valbuena delivery, controlling with his thigh then seeing a powerful shot brilliantly pushed against the bar by Valladares. France went closer yet in the 23rd minute, Griezemann beating Maynor Figueroa to a Patrice Evra cross and heading against the crossbar.
The game could have changed moments later when Palacios tussled with Paul Pogba, the Honduran guilty of a couple of kicks at his opponent and Pogba retaliating by rashly flicking a leg out. Both saw yellow cards, with Pogba particularly relieved. After play resumed France’s flow had deserted them, with Benzema beginning to show frustration at his lack of clear opportunities.
Palacios rectified that just before half-time when he barged through the back of Pogba as he shaped to shoot, earning a second yellow card and conceding a penalty. Benzema fired home to make it 1-0.
Honduras reshuffled with two changes at the break but shipped a second inside three minutes. It went down as an own goal, Valladares palming fractionally over the line after Benzema’s powerful shot bounced back across goal off the inside of the post. Honduras boss Luis Suarez seemed unhappy with the verdict but without good reason.
Amid repeated nasty challenges a third seemed inevitable, but Matuidi spurned a glorious chance shortly after the hour when slotting Evra’s pinpoint cross into the side netting.
Benzema then provided it with 18 minutes left. Debuchy’s long-range drive did not make it through a crowd of bodies but fell kindly for the centre forward, who hammered home an unstoppable shot at the near post.Information from the Press Association was used in this report.