France's Karim Benzema shoots toward goal before Noel Valladares of Honduras handles it over the line for an own-goal during their FIFA World Cup match at the Estadio Beira-Rio on June 15, 2014 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil - Karim Benzema scored two goals and forced goalkeeper Noel Valladares into an own-goal as France topped 10-man Honduras 3-0 in the 2014 FIFA World Cup opener for each on Sunday at the Estadio Beira-Rio.
The win left France level with Switzerland -- a 2-1 winner over Ecuador earlier in the day -- atop the Group E table on three points each, with the 1998 World Cup champion ahead on goal difference.
With the game scoreless in the 43rd minute, Honduras’ Wilson Palacios bowled into Paul Pogba in the box, giving referee Sandro Ricci little choice but to award a penalty kick and issue the Stoke City player his second caution.
Two minute later, Benzema drilled his kick from the spot to Valladares’ right, giving the French a lead that would not be threatened.
Shortly after the break, Les Bleus doubled its lead in uncommon fashion. Mathieu Valbuena sent a ball into the left side of the box that Benzema one-timed with his left foot. The ball crashed off the far post and ricocheted back towards Valladares, who pushed it just over the goal line with his left hand.
France completed the scoreline in the 71st minute. From 23-yards out, Mathieu Debuchy fired an effort into the Honduran box that was blocked. The loose ball bounced to Benzema on the right and the Real Madrid standout lashed off Valladares fingertips into the net from five-yards out.
Honduras returns to action on June 20 against Ecuador at the Baixada Arena in Curitiba.
NOTES: Six of Honduras’ seven all-time World Cup games have been played against European opposition.