Porto Alegre: Karim Benzema took his tally of international goals to 23 with a double as France started their World Cup campaign in fine style with a 3-0 win over Honduras in Porto Alegre.
However, it was the first time in three tries that the Real Madrid hitman had delivered for his country at a major international tournament. “I am very satisfied the team won and from a personal point of view I managed to score two goals,” he said. “I just want to play my football without thinking about any pressure.”
Benzema’s status as the key component in Didier Deschamps’ system has been enhanced by the withdrawal of Franck Ribery due to a back injury.
On Sunday, Benzema was flanked by the creative duo of Antoine Griezmann and Mathieu Valbuena and, although Deschamps was keen to hail his team’s performance as a whole, he reserved special words of praise for Benzema.
“Karim is of course the man who was decisive. He scored the goals. This evening I made a choice given our opponents to have an offensive line that was very athletic,” he said.
“I am happy and I am proud of my goals, but the important thing is the victory,” Benzema said, as he picked up his Man-of-the-Match award. “As a striker sometimes people evaluate me due to the number of goals I score, but the most important thing is that I am playing well and the team wins.”
That unselfish attitude has allowed him to win over Real's sceptical fans in recent months and become a favourite of Real coach Carlo Ancelotti.