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  • France blanks Honduras

  • PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil — Karim Benzema scored twice and created a third that was confirmed by goal-line technology as France eased into its World Cup campaign with a 3-0 victory over Honduras on Sunday
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  • PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil — Karim Benzema scored twice and created a third 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 highly paid squad failed to win a single match and was sent home in a disgrace after going on a training strike.
    It now tops group E and, with Switzerland and Ecuador left to play, stands a good chance of staying there.
    "Winning 3-0 at a World Cup isn't easy," France coach Didier Deschamps said. "(The players should) savor the moment, there's nothing more wonderful. We're going recover and then go again in five days' time."
    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 calmly slotted the ball to the left of Noel Valladares to give the French a deserved lead going into the break.
    "It's my first World Cup and I think we're all satisfied with the result," Benzema said. "It was important to win this match."
    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 goal before Valladares fumbled it over his own line. With the new technology system confirming the ball crossed the line, referee Sandro Ricci gave the own goal despite Honduran protests.
    Benzema got his second on the 72nd minute, firing in powerfully from inside the area after a long-range shot by right back Mathieu Debuchy was blocked.
    "Obviously Karim did well because he scored and he was decisive for us," Deschamps said. "But I was also pleased with our team spirit and our collective way of playing. They defended with a lot of aggression; it was pretty difficult to find an opening even though we hit the crossbar twice. The sending off changed things. We had a lot of space and could take advantage of it."
    Switzerland 2, Ecuador 1
    At Brasilia, Brazil, a goal deep in stoppage-time by Haris Seferovic gave Switzerland a dramatic victory over Ecuador in their Group E opener at the World Cup.
    A low-quality match looked destined to end in a draw until substitute Seferovic fired home the winner from close range in the last of three minutes of injury time. Ecuador barely had time to restart before the final whistle was blown.
    Enner Valencia had given Ecuador the lead in the 22nd minute at Estadio Nacional in the Brazilian capital. That came after abject defending and Switzerland's equalizer in the 48th was in the same vein, Admir Mehmedi — another substitute — heading home from close range.
    It was the fifth time in nine matches so far at this World Cup that a team had come from behind to win.
    After being among the bores of the last two World Cups, it was expected to be all change for Switzerland — ranked No. 6 by FIFA and the top-seeded team in a group also containing France and Honduras.
    Its young, dynamic class of 2014 that had come up together through the national youth ranks provided drama with the late, late goal but had offered little in the previous 92 minutes.
    They were especially disappointing in the first half, misplacing passes and overhitting crosses. Usually the Swiss can rely on a watertight defense that had conceded just once in its previous seven World Cup matches, but not this time.
    Valencia stole a yard on Johan Djourou and had the simple task of guiding a glancing header into the net, with Switzerland goalkeeper Diego Benaglio left completely stranded.
    Argentina 2, Bosnia 1
    At Rio de Janeiro, Lionel Messi scored a stunning second-half goal to push staggering Argentina to a victory over Bosnia at the Maracana in the Group F opener for both teams.
    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 a close-in goal 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 remainder of the half, Argentina showed little with Messi seldom touching the ball and Bosnia — a World Cup debutant — looking more threatening.
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