PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil — Karim Benzema scored twice and created a third goal that was confirmed by goal-line technology as France eased into its World Cup campaign with a 3-0 victory over Honduras on Sunday.
The convincing victory — albeit against a 10-man team for more than 45 minutes — was in stark contrast to the team’s performances in South Africa four years ago, when the squad failed to win a match and was sent home in a disgrace after going on a training strike.
Now it tops Group E and, with Switzerland and Ecuador ahead, stands a good chance of staying there.
Benzema’s first goal came from the penalty spot just before halftime after Wilson Palacios was sent off with his second yellow card for charging into the back of Paul Pogba. The Real Madrid striker slotted the ball to the left of Noel Valladares to give the French a lead going into halftime.
With Honduras down to 10 men, France didn’t take long to double the score, thanks again to the Real Madrid striker and the first decisive use of goal-line technology in a World Cup.
Yohan Cabaye, whose pass had earlier picked out Pogba to give the French their penalty, struck a long ball that Benzema shot across the goal. The ball came back off the post across the goal before Valladares fumbled it over his own line. With the new technology confirming the ball crossed the line, referee Sandro Ricci gave the own goal despite Honduran protests.
Benzema got his second in the 72nd minute, firing in powerfully from inside the area after a long-range shot by right back Mathieu Debuchy was blocked.
SWITZERLAND 2, ECUADOR 1: In Brasilia, Brazil, Switzerland grabbed a winner with virtually the final kick to extend a run of come-from-behind wins that are becoming a theme of the tournament.
With just seconds left in the third and final minute of stoppage time, substitute Haris Seferovic finished a length-of-the-field move by slamming home a close-range shot. After wild Swiss celebrations, Ecuador’s shell-shocked players barely had time to restart before the final whistle was blown.
ARGENTINA 2, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA 1: In Rio de Janeiro, Lionel Messi scored a stunning second-half goal to push staggering Argentina to a win in the Group F opener.
Messi lifted Argentina in the 65th minute, moving in from the right and striking a low, left-footed shot off the inside of the post behind Bosnian keeper Asmir Begovic. It was Messi’s second World Cup goal, adding to one he scored eight years ago in Germany.
Vedad Ibisevic scored in the 85th to give Bosnia hope.
Argentina took a 1-0 lead in the third minute on an own goal by defender Sead Kolasinac. For the rest of the half, Argentina showed little, with Messi seldom touching the ball and Bosnia — making its World Cup debut — looking more threatening.