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WORLD CUP 2014

WORLD CUP

History made as France beat Honduras 3-0

France were awarded the first goal using goal-line technology at a World Cup finals in controversial circumstances during their opening Group E game against Honduras on Sunday night. France won the bruising game 3-0.

History made as France beat Honduras 3-0
The French team celebrate after scoring against Honduras on Sunday night. Photo: Luis Acosta/AFP
France beat 10-man Honduras 3-0 in a bruising World Cup clash on Sunday where goal-line technology awarded the first international goal in history.
 
Three minutes into the second period, the German-manufactured GoalControl system was called into action when a volley from Karim Benzema, who ended the night with two goals, came back off the post.
 
The ball bounced back into the area before hitting Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares.
 
He then tried to scoop the ball to safety, but Brazilian referee Sandro Ricci awarded the goal – classed as an own-goal – after consulting the instant technology.
 
Benzema was the star man as he opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Wilson Palacios had been sent-off for two bookable offences on Paul Pogba.
 
Benzema then played a major role in his side's historic second goal and the Real Madrid striker rounded off a fine afternoon with an emphatic finish 18 minutes from time.
 
Victory moves Didier Deschamps' men above Switzerland on goal difference in Group E after the Swiss beat Ecuador 2-1 earlier in the day with the two European sides set to meet next on Friday in Salvador.
 
The game had begun in bizarre circumstances as neither sides' national anthem was sung before kick-off, but normality was restored once proceedings got underway as France dominated from the off.
 
Blaise Matuidi had the first clear chance on 15 minutes when Mathieu Valbuena's free-kick was only partially cleared and the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder's effort was brilliantly turned onto the bar by Valladares.
 
Antoine Griezmann was then also denied by the crossbar for Les Bleus as he rose highest to meet Patrice Evra's cross but his header clipped the woodwork on its way over.
 
Benzema saw another good opportunity fly over moments later as he headed off target after a fine counter-attack involving Matuidi, Griezmann and Valbuena.
 
Ricci had a big call to make midway through the half when Pogba clashed with Palacios.
 
The Juventus midfielder lashed out at Palacios after appearing to be stamped on, but Ricci showed only yellow cards to both.
 
Palacios was only to last another 16 minutes in any case as he stupidly bundled Pogba over inside the area a minute before half-time and was shown his second yellow card.
 
Benzema stepped up to convert the resulting spot-kick to register his seventh goal in as many games for France and his first in a World Cup.
 
The 26-year-old was heavily involved again as France doubled their advantage within three minutes of the second-half courtesy of the goal line technology.
 
However, there was still confusion as replays inside the stadium first showed Benzema's initial shot hadn't gone in before confirming the ball had indeed crossed the line via the hand of Valladares.
 
Benzema should have added to his tally moments later when he was picked out by a fine low cross from Griezmann but could only fire straight at Valladares.
 
However, he wasn't to be denied 18 minutes from time when he fired expertly high past Valladares from a narrow angle to seal the three points.

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FOOTBALL

France plans to keep growing women’s game after World Cup disappointment

France faces the challenge of continuing to develop women's football after the bitter disappointment of elimination from the World Cup by the United States.

France plans to keep growing women's game after World Cup disappointment
France players after the defeat against USA. Photo: AFP

“Back to Earth” was how sports daily L'Equipe put it after the host nation lost 2-1 to the holders in a quarter-final played out before a feverish crowd in Paris.

L'Equipe talked of “the disappointment of a shattered adventure” because coach Corinne Diacre's team had dreamt of emulating the men, World Cup winners in Russia last year and also winners as hosts in 1998.

The team had been desperate to make it to Lyon, where the semi-finals and final will be played and where seven of those who featured for France on Friday play their club football for Europe's top side.

Instead, France find themselves out of a fifth straight major tournament in the quarter-finals. To rub salt into the wounds, Friday's defeat had the knock-on effect of denying them a place at next year's Olympics.

Diacre had been set the objective of reaching the final, which always looked a daunting challenge once the draw raised the likelihood of an early meeting with the USA.

Amid the dejection on Friday, Diacre stated her wish to continue, and on Saturday French Football Federation (FFF) President Noel Le Graet confirmed she would stay.

“She will be in charge until the end of her contract, if not longer,” Le Graet told AFP.

That means until Euro 2021 in England at least, and the aim in France is to keep developing the women's game to give them a chance of one day going all the way.

The FFF hope the number of registered female players will reach 200,000 next year, an increase of almost 10 percent from present figures, but far from the two million registered male players.

They have also promised to invest 15 million euros into a post-World Cup “legacy” fund.

The interest in the women's game is there, as shown by television audiences during the World Cup, with 11.8 million watching the USA game on terrestrial TV.

However, translating that to an increased following in the women's domestic league will be a bigger challenge.

France games have drawn sell-out crowds at the World Cup, but in general attendances in domestic competition are modest at best, even if almost 26,000 saw powerhouses Lyon beat closest rivals Paris Saint-Germain earlier this year.

“We cannot go from so much enthusiasm now to league matches on poor pitches with only 120 fans,” said Le Graet. “We all need to make an effort and we will.”

Matches are televised, but like elsewhere income remains light years from rights deals in the men's game — a new sponsorship contract for the 12-club top flight with chemicals company Arkema is worth one million euros per season for three years.

Average salaries are reportedly around 3,500 euros per month, although stars like Amandine Henry and Wendie Renard are believed to earn almost 10 times that at Lyon, who have won the Champions League in the last four years. Again, those sums are dwarfed by the wages often on offer to the men.

“We need to keep putting money in, keep professionalising, because other countries are doing it and maybe that's why they are ahead of us,” warned Lyon and France forward Eugenie Le Sommer.

“We have a good league but unfortunately not every team is professional.

“There are countries who are ahead of us and we must catch up. Even Spain are putting lots of money in and we need to make sure we are not left behind.”

READ ALSO: France coach laments 'failure' as hosts knocked out of World Cup

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