Karim Benzema capped an impressive performance with a finish high into the net, completing the scoring for France against a physical Honduras side, who had to play the second half with 10 men following Wilson Palacios’s sending off.
Didier Deschamps’ side started brightly but suffered a scare when Paul Pogba and Palacios tangled in the opening half hour. Pogba was perhaps fortunate to remain on the pitch, seeing only yellow for lashing out at Palacios following a late challenge from the Honduras midfielder.
But Pogba found the breakthrough for France, winning a penalty kick off Palacios, who was shown a second booking for barging into the Juventus man. Benzema made no mistake in converting the spot kick, sending Noel Valladares the wrong way.
France doubled the lead in confusing circumstances after the break, with Benzema appearing hitting the post before Valladares carried the ball over the line. Goalline technology indicted that Benzema’s shot hadn’t crossed the line, before clarifying that Valladares mistake had, despite protests from the aggrieved Honduran players.
However, Benzema finally bagged the goal his performance deserved, firing high into the net from a tight angle to complete the scoring after a Mathieu Debuchy effort from range had fallen at his feet.
14’ WOODWORK – Valbuena plays another freekick from the right side into the Honduras penalty area, with the ball bouncing out to Matuidi 10 yards out. His shot is flicked onto the bar and over by keeper Valladares. Great save!
22’ CROSSBAR – Off the bar again! Evra hooks a deep cross into the box, hanging the ball up in the air. Griezmann gets over it and powers a header towards goal. He beats the keeper but his effort rattles back off the crossbar!
29’ LUCKY BOY – Pogba gets away with it, perhaps by virtue of Palacios's shocking initial tackle. The France midfielder is showing the stud marks he has left on his leg. Even still, Pogba can't be lashing out like that.
42’ PENALTY! – Palacios sees a second booking for barging into Pogba in the box. Benzema has to wait an age to take the spot kick, but in the end sends Valladares the wrong way from 12 yards to put his team ahead before the break.
49’ CONFUSION! GOAL! – This is incredible! Benzema hits the post with a shot across the face of goal, which then looks to have been carried over the line by the keeper. The graphic showed on the big screen in the stadium that the ball hadn't crossed the line when it hit the post. Then when it is carried over the line by the keeper it showed that it was a goal. Confusion reigned in the stadium, but the correct decision looks to have been made. In the end.
55’ CHANCE – Griezmann works his way to the byline before drilling a cross into the six-yard box for Benzema. However, the Real Madrid striker fires his shot straight at the keeper. Either side and it surely would have been a goal.
64’ SIDE NETTING – So close to being a third goal! Evra fizzes a low pass into the near post where Sissoko has made a run, but his shot ends up in the side netting. Just for a second it looked like France had scored another.
72’ GOAL – There's no doubt about this one! Debuchy's drive from outside the box is blocked and falls at the feet at Benzema, who blasts high into the net from a tight angle.
France have won their first World Cup match since the 2006 semi-final (v Portugal). They had drawn two and lost two since then.
Karim Benzema is the first France player to score two goals in a single World Cup game since Zinedine Zidane scored a brace in the 1998 final.
Benzema had three more shots (incl. blocked) in the game (7) than the entire Honduras side (4).
Three of France’s last six goals in the World Cup have come from the penalty spot.
Honduras are without a World Cup goal in 479 minutes of action. Their last goal came in 1982 (v Northern Ireland).
Honduras only conceded one more foul in the match than France (14-13).
Honduras have won none of their seven matches at World Cup finals (D3 L4).
France finished with more than 70% possession for the first time in a World Cup match since 1966 (71.1%).
Similarly that was Honduras’ worst return of possession in a single match at World Cup finals (28.9%).
Is this the most exciting French side since 1998?: France tends to alternate good World Cups with bad World Cups. 1998’S triumph was followed up by a group stage exit in 2002. In 2006 they reached the final, only to exit the 2010 tournament in disgrace. Such a pattern would suggest France will go far this summer, and indeed young players like Griezmann, Pogba and Varane make this the most exciting French team since 1998. But can they deliver in the same way?
MAN OF THE MATCH
Karim Benzema - The Real Madrid striker can be a frustrating figure. For every astounding goal he scores, he tends to miss a sitter. But tonight Benzema carried the goalscoring burden for France, netting one and forcing another own goal. Many speculated before kick-off whether Olivier Giroud deserved a starting spot. On this basis, Deschamps made the right choice.
France: Lloris 5, Debuchy 6, Varane 6, Sakho 5, Evra 6, Cabaye 5, Matuidi 6, Pogba 7 Griezmann 8, Valbuena 7, Benzema 8. Subs – Mavuba 5, Sissoko 7, Giroud 4.
Honduras: Valladares 4, Izaguirre 4, Figueroa 4, Bernardez 6, Beckeles 4, Najar 5, Palacios 3, Garrido 4, Espinoza 5, Costly 5, Bengtson 4. Subs – Chavez 4, Boniek Garcia 6, Claros 3.
THE MATCH IN A TWEET
- Sports & Recreation
- Karim Benzema
- Paul Pogba
- Noel Valladares