The World Cup Group E match at Estadio Beira-Rio stadium in Porto Alegre on Sunday evening had a strange beginning. Just as players from both France and Honduras stood lined-up, ready for the national anthems of their respective countries, the ritual had to be given up. There was no music and no anthem for a long while before the referee instructed the players to start the customary hand-shakes and get on with the game. No reason could be immediately assigned by the organizers on the slip. The match ended 3-0 in favor of France with Karim Benzema starring in all the goals scored, though only two of them could be registered against his name. The third goal was decided on the newly introduced Goal-Line-Technology, when Benzema’s powerful volley struck the post after touching the hands of the Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares. Just as the goalkeeper was scooping the ball away, Benzema’s appeal for invoking the Goal-Line-Technology was accepted by the Brazilian referee Sandro Ricci. After due consultations with the experts and several video replays, France became the first team to earn a goal through the new technology. The event marked the acceptance of the operational part of the Goal-Line-Technology for the first time in the world cup and international football history. As per the rule, the goal was bracketed under the class of an own-goal.
While the 3-0 score-line tends to suggest a one-sided affair, the contest was far from it. Until the 42nd minutes, the two sides were almost evenly matched, though Frenchman Blaise Matuidi came close to scoring earlier. While Matuidi’s scorching shot was instinctively tipped over the bar by Noel Valladares, Honduras also had their chances but they couldn’t draw any purchase from them. As the halftime approached, the score was still 0-0 but in the 43rd minute, Wilson Palacios stupidly pushed Paul Pogba in front of the goal-mouth and earned a red card while also conceding a penalty. Karim Benzema made no mistake as he took the spot kick. His powerful high shot on the goalkeeper’s right was crafted in great style that sent Valladares the wrong way. France went ahead 1-0 and Honduras lost the edge as they had to play with 10 men for the rest of the match.
Within a few minutes of the teams coming back after the breather, France enhanced their lead to 2-0 in a way, never seen in the history of international football. The 26-year-old Benzema produced a volley that struck the post and the French striker appealed for referral by the newly-introduced Goal-Line-Technology. Confusion prevailed for a while before it was proved after multiple video replays that the ball had crossed the goal line after brushing the out-stretched hand of the Honduras goalkeeper. The goal was not credited to Benzema’s account but registered as an own goal per the rule. But that wouldn’t stop the brilliant Benzema from playing the pivotal role in the game as he forced his way several times in the Honduras defense. The Real Madrid striker drew admirable support from Antoine Griezmann, Patrice Evra, Blaise Matuidi, Paul Pogba, Yohan Cabaye and Mathieu Valbuena. The French forward line took advantage of the depleted Honduras side and launched their attack from time to time. In the 63rd minute, Blaise Matuidi nearly scored France’s third goal, when Evra sent him a good pass. Matuidi, however couldn’t control the shot that missed the target narrowly. Meanwhile, Honduras also got a great scoring chance in the 69th minute but Oscar Garcia couldn’t beat the French keeper and captain Hugo Lloris. With less than 20 minutes remaining in the match, Benzema came up with a fantastic goal. After Mathieu Debuchy’s volley was nicely blocked, the ball came to where Benzema was present. The star striker created an almost unstoppable shot that sailed into the goal at an extremely acute angle to make it 3-0 for France and 2 for himself. France now faces Switzerland, who also won their first game against Ecuador.
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