By TYLER GRAY
French forward Karim Benzema probably deserved a hat trick but he’ll take the three points and a brace just the same.
France overcame a tense first half and cruised to a 3-0 victory over a 10-man Honduras at the Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Les Bleus were boosted with a brace from Benzema and an own goal from Honduran goalkeeper Noel Valladares after he bundled a ball over the line, forced by none other than Benzema.
After a valiant effort from the Honduran midfield and defense during the first 43 minutes of the match, the dam finally broke one minute later.
France played the ball into the box to a waiting Paul Pogba who was barged over from behind by Wilson Palacios, giving referee Sandro Meira Ricci no choice but to point to the spot. Palacios was shown his second yellow of the match and given his marching orders.
Benzema stepped to the spot and made no mistake as he blasted his shot to the right of Valladares and gave France the 1-0 lead heading into the break.
France had already hit the woodwork twice in the opening period and it seemed only a matter of time before they got one past Valladares. In the second half things only got uglier for Los Catrachos.
France would add to its tally just three minutes out of the break and it was Benzema once again that would do the damage, mostly.
The Real Madrid man had a crack at goal, hitting the back post before the ball glanced off Honduran ‘keeper Valladares’ hip, going just over the line for a goal. There was a question as to the whether the ball had fully crossed the line but, thanks to the advent of goal line technology, match officials were able to confirm the score.
Benzema would be the bane of Honduras’ afternoon in the 72nd minute when a deflected cross fell to his feet inside the box. The Real Madrid frontman blasted a shot from a tight angle into the roof of the net, further burying the short-handed Honduran side, 3-0.
At the end of three minutes of stoppage time, the whistle mercifully sounded and CONCACAF’s short-lived unbeaten streak came to a crushing end.
France will face fellow Group E winners, Switzerland, next on June 20 while Honduras will hope to bounce back with three points against Ecuador on the same day.