World Cup: Benzema’s double and Palacios red help French sink Honduras

Frank Dalleres
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STRIKER Karim Benzema came within inches of a hat-trick on his World Cup debut as France brushed off roughhouse tactics from 10-man Honduras to secure a winning start in Group E.

Benzema put Les Bleus ahead from the penalty spot just before half-time and prompted the second moments after the restart, Honduran goalkeeper Noel Valladares fumbling the ball over the line after the Real Madrid star’s shot had hit the post.

Honduras played the second half without former Tottenham midfielder Wilson Palacios, who was red carded in the penalty incident, and Benzema added his second 18 minutes from time to leave France top of the group.

Honduras’s attempts to unnerve their more illustrious opponents spilled over in the 26th minute when Palacios stamped on Paul Pogba and the Juventus midfielder reacted by kicking out.

Both men were booked but Palacios would be dismissed just before the break for a shameless barge on Pogba in the penalty area, which Benzema emphatically punished from the spot.

Goal-line technology was used for the first time at a World Cup for France’s second, while Benzema added gloss to the scoreline in the closing stages with a powerful rising drive from a narrow angle.