Benzema and computer ref give France crucial win
Honduras' goalkeeper and captain Noel Valladares handles the ball to score an own goal from a shot by France's Karim Benzema, at the Beira-Rio Stadium in Porto Alegre, during the FIFA World Cup, on June 15, 2014 - by Franck Fife
The 26-year-old Real Madrid striker produced an emphatic display in a victory marked by the use of the computer-generated 3-D images to decide whether the ball had crossed the line.
Three minutes into the second period, the GoalControl system was called into action when a Benzema volley hurtled off a post.
The ball flew across the face of the goal, hitting Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares and crossing the line before he could scoop it away to safety. Brazilian referee Sandro Ricci saw a "GOAL" message flash up on his watch and ruled it was an own goal by Valladares.
"I shot and the ball hit the post and then the goalkeeper," said Benzema.
"I saw that the ball crossed the line. I don't know if having technology like this is good for football but the most important thing was that we have won."
France boss Didier Deschamps expressed concern at the confusion in the stadium when replays on the giant screen first showed Benzema's initial shot had not gone in before confirming the ball had crossed the line after hitting Valladares' hand.
Deschamps said GoalControl was a "good solution" but "the image shown must be the one that justifies the decision of the referee."
Benzema opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Wilson Palacios was sent off for two yellow cards both involving tussles with France's Paul Pogba.
And the Real Madrid striker rounded off a fine afternoon with a narrow angle shot 18 minutes from time.
The victory kept France above Switzerland on goal difference in Group E after the Swiss beat Ecuador 2-1 earlier. The two European sides are set to meet next on Friday in Salvador.
Honduras coach Luis Suarez argued with Deschamps over the ruling for a while. "The first decision of the machine was no goal, the second decision was a goal. You just didn't know what was going on, what was the truth," he said.
The game had also started in bizarre circumstances as no national anthem was played before kick-off. FIFA blamed sound system problems.
Normality was restored once proceedings got under way as France dominated from the off.
Blaise Matuidi saw a chance fly narrowly wide and Antoine Griezmann's header was denied by the crossbar.
Benzema saw a good opportunity fly over moments later as he headed off target.
Ricci had a big call to make midway through the half when Pogba clashed with Palacios. The Juventus midfielder lashed out at Palacios after appearing to be stamped on. Ricci showed yellow cards to both.
Palacios was only to last another 16 minutes as he bundled Pogba over inside the area a minute before half-time and was shown his second yellow card.
Benzema convert the resulting spot-kick to register his seventh goal in as many games for France and his first in a World Cup.
The 26-year-old was heavily involved again as France doubled their advantage within three minutes of the second-half courtesy of the goal line technology.
However, he wasn't to be denied 18 minutes from time when he fired expertly high past Valladares from a narrow angle to seal the three points.
Benzema's performance proved he can cope as lead attacker following the withdrawal of Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery with a back injury.
"I am very satisfied the team won and from a personal point of view I managed to score two goals," Benzema said. "I just want to play my football without thinking about any pressure."
For this game, Benzema was flanked by the creative duo of Antoine Griezmann and Mathieu Valbuena and, although Deschamps was keen to hail his team's performance as a whole, he reserved special praise for the striker.
"Karim is of course the man who was decisive. He scored the goals. This evening I made a choice given our opponents to have an offensive line that was very athletic.
"Be it Karim, Antoine or Mathieu they all played very well as did the midfield and that allowed us to break down the Hondurans," said the coach.