Striker Karim Benzema led France to a comfortable 3-0 victory in a fiery clash with Honduras at the start of their 2014 World Cup campaign in Porto Alegre this afternoon.
France dominated proceedings for the majority of the first half and were unlucky not to open the scoring on several occasions; with Blaise Matuidi and Antoine Griezmann both hitting the woodwork in the opening 25 minutes of the game.
There were plenty of tough tackles in the early stages of the clash and things turned spiteful when Paul Pogna and fiery Honduran Wilson Palacios were involved in a clash that led to both players being yellow carded, which would back to haunt Honduras 20 minutes later.
France continued to dominate possession, but looked as though they were going to head into the half time break scoreless until Palacios upended Pogna in the penalty box, which gave France a penalty and Palacios his second red card – leaving his side with ten players on the pitch.
Benzema cooly converted the penalty attempt to give France a 1-0 halftime lead and the Real Madrid striker was the architect of France second goal just three minutes into the second half; with his strike first denied by Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares before the ball rebounded off the keeper and just went over the line.
Confusion reigned after the goal, as the FIFA goal-line technology initially showed that the ball had not crossed the line, but replays showed that the referee had made the correct decision.
Benzema continued to dominate for France and Les Blues had a number of opportunities to secure their victory with a third goal, but were denied by some gritty defense from the Honduras.
However it was just a matter of time for France, and they secured their first World Cup victory since 2006 when Benzema scored his second goal with a stunning strike in the 72nd minute and became the first French player to score two goals in a single World Cup game since Zinedine Zidane in the 1998 World Cup final against Brazil.
France will have the opportunity to secure qualification into the second round when they take on Switzerland at Salvador on June 20 and Honduras will have to regroup for their clash with Ecuador at Curtiba on the same day.