The former Lyon man has not always shown his best for his country but he was far too good for a Honduras side hindered by its own ill disciplinePORTO ALEGRE, Brazil — He was questioned beforehand, but on this occasion Karim Benzema delivered for his country.
Not even guaranteed a place in the starting lineup before a blistering display against Jamaica in Les Bleus' final warm-up game, Benzema was the star as Didier Deschamps' men opened their Group E account with a comfortable 3-0 defeat of Honduras.
For so long the fall guy on the international stage, the Real Madrid man finally replicated his club form when it really mattered.
France was given a helping hand by Honduras' ill discipline, however.
Only Wilson Palacios will know what he was doing when, having already been booked for lashing out at Paul Pogba, he barged senselessly into the Juventus midfielder to concede a penalty and pick up a second yellow card.
Benzema converted with impressive calm and from there on in, the match was barely a contest.
Benzema nearly opened the tournament with a hat trick. His cushioned volley after 48 minutes hit the post, rolled across the line and in off bungling Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares for an own goal.
PHOTOS: Opening ceremony | Brazil protests | Soccer fanatics | Fan tattoos
Following initial confusion when the Porto Alegre crowd were shown a graphic which showed 'no goal' in relation to the effort which hit the woodwork, referee Sandro Ricci and goal-line technology combined to award it after Valladares' mistake.
At 2-0 and with no sign of a comeback from their dispirited opponents, France was allowed to play with freedom.
And that brought even more out of Benzema, perhaps reveling in being the team's chief attacker in the absence of the injured Franck Ribery.
Although he was predominantly in the XI as the central pivot in a three-man attack, he was happy to drift around the final third, combining nicely with Mathieu Valbuena and Antoine Griezmann.
His performance was rewarded further with a second goal 18 minutes from the end.
A loose ball fell nicely into his path to the right of goal and he showed his predatory instincts to hammer a drive high past Valladares.
This might not be a vintage France team. They don't have a Zidane, an Henry, or even a Deschamps.
But if Benzema can fire, and given the relatively straightforward group it has been given, France is a team to watch.