By Rex Gowar
A Karim Benzema brace and an own goal by goalkeeper Noel Valladares awarded after confirmation by goalline technology gave France a 3-0 victory over 10-man Honduras in their World Cup Group E match on Sunday.
Wilson Palacios charged into French midfielder Paul Pogba seconds before the break in a reckless challenge that had him sent-off for a second booking, and Karim Benzema smashed home the resulting penalty to give France a lead they deserved having dominated the first 45 minutes.
Three minutes into the second half, Benzema stole past the defence to shoot across goal with his shot coming back off the far post, rolling along the line and going in off Valladares.
Benzema struck again with 18 minutes left when he shot from a narrow angle on the right past Valladares and into the roof of the net.
Scoring in their opening World Cup match for the first time since 1998 when they won the trophy, the French dominated when both teams still had 11 men and might have opened their account earlier.
A shot by midfielder Blaise Matuidi was tipped on to the crossbar by Valladares and over for a corner in the 15th minute and Les Bleus rattled the bar again in the 23rd with a header by Antoine Griezmann from left back Patrice Evra’s cross.
Benzema then headed busy midfielder Mathieu Valbuena’s right cross over the bar two minutes later as Honduras battled in defence to stay in the match before the penalty with the striker sending Valladares the wrong way with his spot kick.
Matuidi skimmed the outside of his right post with a fine chance midway through the second half as France, making light of the absence of Frank Ribery, kept the Honduras goal under siege.