Sunday, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, the French National Football Team defeated Honduras by 3-0 in the second game of World Cup 2014’s Group E. In the group opener, in Brasilia, Switzerland scored a second half stoppage time counterattack goal to complete their comeback win, edging out Ecuador 2-1.
The French team, by far the superior one on the pitch, was nevertheless challenged to the fullest by a very tough tackling and combative Honduras team. The game had several yellow cards a double-yellow red and a well-called penalty. The referee, Sandro Ricci, from Brazil, did a good job in what was a very tough game to call given the Honduran’s penchant for rough play.
Honduras kept the game interesting and even until the 44th minute when a very rough push from behind, by Wilson Palacios on Paul Pogba, Palacios’ second yellow. Karim Benzema struck the ball with pace and toward his left, while Honduran keeper, Noel Valladares, guessed and dove to his right. France 1, Honduras 0. But more importantly in such an even match, Honduras would have to play the second half a man down.
The second half’s first three minutes started with another series of rough tackles and several fouls whistled but with a decided French control of pace, possession and opportunities. The Europeans felt they needed to jump on their opponents and make their advantage count.
At the 48th minute a beautifully angled volley on the run by Benzema, off a long cross from far right wing to the left side of the box, beat Valladares but hit the post without going into the goal. The rebound though was mishandled by the Honduran keeper who pushed the ball over the line but tried gamely to grasp the ball back. The ref, unsure if there had been a goal since the play took less than a second to consummate—from volley to grasp—had to rely on the now available goal line technology.
The photos shown around the stadium clearly indicated that the ball did not cross the line when it hit the post but that it did cross it when Valladares mishandled it. Honduras coach Luis Suarez could be seen saying to French coach, Didier Deschamps, in Spanish “No goal. Beat me fairly but not like this.” Deschamps words in reply were hard to read but his message was clear and easy to understand. The ball crossed the line and the technology confirmed it. France 2, Honduras 0.
But the French, sensing blood in the waters pressed their advantage clearly knowing goal differential would be crucial in their group.
At the 72nd minute another French attack saw Benzema receiving a rebounded ball to the right of the Honduran goal and taking his time to roof the ball with a blast that Valladares hardly saw fly by him. France and technology 3, Honduras 0.
The victory was complete but the French defense showed it will have a hard time of it come their matches against Ecuador and Switzerland. For Honduras, whose progression was always in question, the loss was not helpful as their next two matches will be battles.