PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil, June 15 (Xinhua) -- French striker Karim Benzema scored twice on Sunday, leading "Les Bleus" to a 3-0 victory over Honduras in a Group E meeting.
Benzema, selected as "Man of the Match" after the finish, became the first French player to score a brace in the World Cup since Zinedine Zidane did it in the 1998 Final, and France repeated the 3-0 opening-match win in 1998, when they got their first and only World Cup title on home court.
It was also the first time since 1998 for France to score in the World Cup opening match.
Benzema would have score a "hat trick", but the second goal of France was judged as an own goal of Honduras. "I didn't see the film, but a goal is good for us in any aspect," said Benzema. "I'm happy to help the team win the match."
"It's important for us to win the first match," said French head coach Didier Deschamps. "Breaking the opponent's defense in the first half is good for us because they are really a tough defensive team."
It was the second time in this tournament for the goal line technology to be used.
"Of course 3-0 is better than 2-0," said Dechamp about the second goal. "The result is positive for us, that's good."
The red card foul from Honduras midfielder Wilson Palacios in the 43rd minute became the turning point of the match. He hit Paul Pogba on the back, receiving his second yellow card in the match to be fouled out. France was awarded a penalty because of that. Benzema made that penalty and set the tune of the match afterwards.
It was the first meeting between the two teams in World Cup. Honduras was ranked lower than France in the recent FIFA rankings, but the Central American team had much more fans in the stadium, changing Porto Alegre to another home for Honduras.
Honduras made a couple of steals to open the match, and France had a slow start in the cool weather. France did a better job after ten minutes into the match, winning three consecutive free kicks on the right side of the box, with Blaise Matuidi firing to hit the bar on the third occasion.
France took an overwhelming advantage in the rest of the first half. Antoine Griezmann hit the crossbar before Karim Benzema missed a diving header. Paul Pogba is penalised after committing a foul in the 26th minute. Both him and the Honduras midfielder Wilson Palacios received yellow cards.
France got a penalty chance after Wilson Palacios hitting Pogba at the back in the 43rd minute. Palacios was shown a red card and sent out of the court. Benzema turned the penalty to score with a strong strike, awarding France a 1-0 lead.
Benzema stayed hot in the second half. He hit the right post with a left-foot strike, and the reflected ball was touched beyond the score line by Honduras goal keeper Noel Valladares. Valladeres thus became the oldest player to score a World Cup own goal, beating Carlos Gamarra (35 years, 113 days) of Paraguay, when he scored one versus England on 19 June 2006 (Valladares is 37 years, 43 days).
Down by two, Honduras had to switch to attacking mode and that allowed France more chance for goals. Both Benzema and Griezmann had opportunities inside the box, but both shots were rejected by Valladares.
The ten-man Honduras fought hard to get something from the match, but France was just too strong. Benzema had his second goal in the 72nd minute, helping France lead by three.
"I don't have much to say about the match," said Honduras head coach Luis Suarez. "We should improve our overall offense."
"The sending-out of Palacios influenced us a lot, and we were short of one player afterwards," added Suarez.
France would next face Switzerland, who edged Ecuador 2-1 in an earlier match on Sunday.