by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (June 15th 2014)
The criticism levelled at Luís Fernando Suárezʼ Honduras team had no effect on the Colombian coach or his team, although French counterpart Didier Deschampsʼ comments irked the Hondurans. Nevertheless, the gulf in class was telling with Real Madridʼs Karim Benzema at the heart of all three goals.
Wilson Palacios enticed former Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba into retaliation after treading on him and kicking him until Pogba reacted and tripped him. Palaciosʼ plan backfired as referee Sandro Meira Ricci yellow carded both players. With half-time approaching Palacios paid the price. Yoann Cabayeʼs cross was almost controlled by Pogba.
Palacios made sure that Pogba could not score with a clumsy shove in Pogbaʼs back that earned him a second yellow card and France a penalty that Honduras delayed as long as they could. Benzema who had suffered a long goal-drought was back in form. He maintained his concentration and scored the penalty.
The first major foul was committed by Patrice Evra on Anderlechtʼs Andy Najar after just 7 minutes. Pogba and Mathieu Valbuena. The Marseilles midfielder brought the best out of Hondurasʼ keeper Noel Valladares Bonilla who tipped Valbuenaʼs shot onto the crossbar. But while Honduras favour the niggly method, their physical approach strayed over the boundaries of fair competition.
Emilio Izaguirre Girón was fortunate to stay on the pitch after a totally unnecessary foot up challenge on Valbuena under the nose of the refereeʼs assistant. It resulted in a gesture to calm down. But that should have been a red card. As it appears to have been seen by that official, itʼs unlikely anything can be done about it now – another reason to utilise technology.
But there was also the first goal-line technology issue. Cabayeʼs pass found Benzema in space on the left of the area. His shot hit Valladaresʼ left-hand post and rebounded to hit the keeper before crossing the line. The technology proved that it had crossed the line. Benzema had no doubt, but the way it was used was farcical. First it said no goal and then it said that it was a goal.
Both Deschamps and Suárez were confused. The goal stood and rightly so. Technology had been vindicated, but more is needed. But it was not Benzemaʼs – it was an own-goal by Valladares. The Real Madrid striker got his second and Franceʼs third when Valbuena played the free-kick on the right flank back to Mathieu Debuchy near the edge of the area. His shot rebounded to Benzema who beat Valladares at his near post. France emerged unscathed, but Honduras, who had the support of the crowd won few friends with such a cynical display.