By Teng Kiat | Deputy Editor, Goal Singapore
Was it a goal? Did it cross the line? Goal-line technology came under its greatest scrutiny yet at this World Cup, although it will take away much of the spotlight from France, who put in a clinical display to dispatch Honduras 3-0 with minimum fuss.
|Technology comes in useful - at last|
|Goal-line technology (GLT) was on show for the first time ever at a World Cup in this tournament and it finally proved it was worth its salt during the game.
The system had been used to confirm all goals in the previous nine matches - only to draw mockery from most supporters, as it was clear with the naked eye that the ball clearly crossed the line. Not this time though.
Already 1-0 up at the break, Les Bleus were keen to extend the advantage after the restart and within three minutes, Karim Benzema ran on to delightfull ball from Yohan Cabaye. The striker's superb cushioned volley crashed off the right-hand post before rolling back across the line, where goalkeeper Noel Valladares appeared to have inadvertently fumbled it in, just before he desperately clawed it out.
Cue confusion - initially, at least - as the GLT quickly confirmed that while the ball did not cross the line after hitting the woodwork, it DID end up doing so after coming off Valladares. The Honduras players were far from happy with the decision, but subsequent replays from different camera angles proved the GLT was correct.
One for the computers then!
|No Ribery, no problem
|Franck Ribery's late, enforced withdrawal from the France squad dominated the headlines in the lead-up to the tournament, with many wondering whether the absence of the Bayern Munich star - regarded as their best player and who was their top scorer during qualifying - would adversely affect them.
But those observers overlooked the fact that the rest of Didier Deschamps' squad was still packed with quality, and they delivered in their opening game here in Brazil.
Youngsters Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann were not over-awed against more experienced opponents, displaying no fear and plenty of promise. Meanwhile, Benzema stepped up to the fore with two well-taken strikes and helped create the other goal, while Mathieu Valbuena (pictured) was a revelation with his trickery and guile down the right.
The French demonstrated that they could cope without their star man and the performance would have given them a big boost - especially after it came against a Honduras side determined to stop them at all costs, which brings me to my next point...
|Cynical, dirty Honduras
|It was not a surprise to see Honduras finish the game with 10 men - the surprise was that they managed not to get more men sent off. The Central Americans, making their third appearance at the World Cup, tried their best to rough up the French, to put things mildly.
Luis Suarez (no, not *that* one) must have instructed his charges to dial up the physicality before the game, as the Hondurans seem determined to clatter and crash into the blue shirts on the pitch once the referee blew for kick-off.
Pogba was the recipient of a few early challenges before the Juventus midfielder was caught in a tussle with Wilson Palacios. The latter appeared to stamp on the youngster twice after the France player went down, with Pogba retaliating by kicking out. Although Palacious was at best brushed by his opponent's boot, he went down like a sack of potatoes and even clambered on to a stretcher for good measure.
Both received yellows and it would prove costly for Palacios, who illegally body-checked the same player to concede a penalty just before the break for the opener and got himself sent off for a second booking.
The rest of his team-mates continued their heavy-handed approach throughout as they struggled to match the flair and class of France, who were clearly a level above. Luis Garrido was in particular fortunate not to follow Palacios for an early shower after an attempt to amputate Blaise Matuidi beneath his left knee.
If Honduras continue to be more interested in playing the man rather than the ball for their two remaining games against Switzerland and Ecuador, they could be on the plane home after the group stages.