Benzema fires France past Honduras

France held firm against a physical 10-man Honduras side to open their FIFA World Cup campaign with a 3-0 win in Porto Alegre on Sunday.

Luis Suarez's Central Americans were not afraid to put in several robust challenges - an approach that resulted in Wilson Palacios' dismissal shortly before the break. 

There was also a first moment of doubt in relation to goal-line technology at the World Cup, with initial confusion over the verdict for France's second goal.

However, Didier Deschamps' men were rightful victors as they moved top of Group E despite having struggled to break down Honduras' backline for the majority of the opening 45 minutes.

Karim Benzema gave France the lead from the penalty spot just prior to the break, with Palacios shown a second yellow card after barging into Paul Pogba, and the 10 men of Honduras fell further behind early in the second half.

After a short delay, goal-line technology confirmed goalkeeper Noel Valladares had fumbled Benzema's effort over the line, and the Real Madrid man added a third 18 minutes from time as the French got their first points on the board in Brazil. 

Both sides struggled to build momentum early on, although Mathieu Valbuena and Antoine Griezmann were among the livelier French players in the opening 10 minutes.

Valbuena in particular was a danger and his delivery led to France's first chance 14 minutes in - Blaise Matuidi seeing his effort from inside the area tipped onto and over the crossbar by Valladares.

From there, France dominated play and Griezmann was next to go close with a header that hit the woodwork.

Tempers flared shortly before the half-hour mark when Pogba and Palacios were involved in a heated exchange after some tenacious tackling from the Stoke City man.

Pogba kicked out at the Honduran from on the ground and was perhaps lucky to escape with only a yellow card, while Palacios was also booked for the initial challenge.

For Honduras, that break in play provided welcome respite from constant French pressure and the incident seemed to slow the Europeans' momentum somewhat.

Indeed, they needed a penalty to give them a lead at the break - Benzema tucking the spot-kick away after Palacios had mindlessly bundled over Pogba in the area.

The midfielder's subsequent dismissal gave the Central Americans a mountain to climb in the second half, with things getting worse for Honduras two minutes after the restart with the arrival of France's second.

Benzema's initial effort struck the far post and, with the assistance of goal-line technology and some poor handling from Valladares, it found its way over the line.

While there was a delay on the confirmation of the goal and subsequent disagreements between France coach Deschamps and his counterpart Suarez on the touchline, the ball was - eventually - clearly adjudged to be over the line.

There was no doubt whatsoever as to Benzema's second of the game, though - the impressive striker crashing an effort into the roof of the net from a tight angle with 18 minutes left. 

That put further daylight between the two sides, although more robust tackling from Honduras late on meant that Deschamps will likely have been satisfied to simply come through a physical encounter unscathed and seemingly without injury.