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World Cup 2014
 

France 3 Honduras 0: Highlights, key battles and what the result means

Published on Jun 16, 2014 5:36 AM
 
France's footballers celebrate a goal during a Group E football match between France and Honduras at the Beira-Rio Stadium in Porto Alegre during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 15, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

It was warned before kick-off that Les Bleus might face a tough physical duel against the Hondurans, and how true that was. This was supposed to be football, but given the amount of hard tackles, it might as well have been a mixed martial arts bout.

Les Bleus won their opener 3-0 in what was largely a start-stop affair due to fouls breaking up play. Seven yellow cards - including one that led to a red - were split between the two sides with Honduran midfielder WIlson Palacios sent off for a second booking.

The French, however, made sure any torrid memory of their dismal 2010 campaign were erased. Lots of legs to go between Antoine Greizmann, Blaise Matuidi, Mathieu Valbuena and Paul Pogba and they showed they will be an exciting side to watch for the rest of the tournament.

Highlights:

- Pogba and Wilson Palacios were both cautioned after being caught in a tangle. Palacios fully deserved it for several stamps on Pogba, who retaliated by bringing the Stoke City defender down. The incident directly had an impact on the rest of the match, when Palacios senseless charge into Pogba's back in the box earned him a second yellow card. Karim Benzema converted the spot kick with composure to give the French a 1-0 and one man advantage at the break.

- For the first match ever, an international goal was awarded with the help of goal-line technology. But it didn't come without confusion.
Benzema's shot early in the second half hit the far post, was deemed goal, then no-goal, then goal again before an own goal was credited to Honduras goalkeeper Valladeres.

- But there was no question about the third goal of the night, with Benzema blasting a shot through at a tight angle after Debuchy's shot was blocked.

Key battle:

Valbuena/Griezmann v Honduran defence

No question about it - France wins the midfield battle hands down. Valbuena and Griezmann ran riot around Honduras and had no trouble creating pacy runs down the flanks. Combined well with Benzema to deliver crosses into the box.

Man of the Match:

It's a tough pick with the tireless Valbuena and stellar Greizmann (who lived up to all the hype) also presenting as good candidates, but we'll go with Karim Benzema for delivering the goals.

With Olivier Giroud starting on the bench, there was heaps of pressure on Benzema to deliver in the middle. It took a while, but once he found the breakthrough, the burden was lifted from his shoulders.

His two goals - plus his shot that led to the own goal - means he has now scored 8 in his last seven international games for France.

What this result means:

Group E is one of the easiest groups in the tournament and France were always expected to come out tops. But the Blues are somewhat slow starters, having failed to score in the last three opening games at the World Cup, Not anymore.

A good start to get them on their way in a group they are fully expected to top - which would lead to a reasonably manageable round of 16 tie where they are likely to avoid Argentina.

 

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