PORTO ALEGRE (Brazil), June 16 (IANS): Striker Karim Benzema scored twice as France strolled to a 3-0 win over 10-man Honduras in Group E encounter of the FIFA World Cup at the Beira-Rio Stadium here Sunday.
Benzema, who has scored eight goals in seven matches now, became the first French player to score a brace in the World Cup since Zinedine Zidane did it in the 1998 final, reports Xinhua.
It was also the first time since 1998 for France to score in the World Cup opening match.
Honduras midfielder Wilson Palacios' sending off in the 43rd minute was the turning point of the match.
He barged into Paul Pogba's back, receiving his second yellow card and France were awarded a penalty for the misdemeanour. Benzema gave the keeper no chance giving France the lead.
France made a slow start to the game but as the game wore on started stamping their authority. Ten minutes into the match, France won three consecutive free kicks, with Blaise Matuidi stinging shot palmed away by the Honduras goalie onto the crossbar 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.
In the second half things were much same and in the 48th minute Benzema thought he had scored his brace but shot hit the right post and deflected in off Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares.
Goalline technology was called into action and the new tech deemed that the ball had crossed the line but it was given as an own goal.
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 in his own net against England June 19, 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 Valladares was at hand to save both shots.
Ten-man Honduras fought hard to get something from the match, but France were just too strong.
In the 72nd minute, Benzema cleared all doubts grabbing his brace with a fearsome strike.
France next face Switzerland, who edged Ecuador 2-1 in an earlier match Sunday.