Karim Benzema scores to lead France over Brazil
SAINT-DENIS, France – Thirteen years later, Brazil still can't win at Stade de France.
Karim Benzema scored in his third straight international match, getting a 54th-minute goal to lead France to a 1-0 victory Wednesday night at the site of Les Bleus' win in the 1998 World Cup final.
"We're very, very happy. Even though it was a friendly, Brazil are a reference on the world stage," French winger Florent Malouda said. "We've started the year on a high note."
Brazil midfielder Hernanes was ejected in the 40th minute for a challenge in which he kicked Benzema in the upper body.
"Unfortunately the referee was very strict with Hernanes," Brazil defender David Luiz said. "The red card had a big impact on our team. But we fought hard until the end."
Goalkeeper Julio Cesar denied Benzema with two superb saves, one at point-blank range. Benzema, much maligned by Real Madrid fans for inconsistent play this season, also clipped a shot just wide of the right post.
"The goalkeeper stopped him scoring more, but what you have to remember is that Karim was dangerous every time he touched the ball," France coach Laurent Blanc said. "I don't want to speak about individual players too much, but Karim had a great game."
France won its fifth straight match as Blanc attempts to right the team following its first-round elimination at the World Cup under Raymond Domenech.
"The wins against England and Brazil should give us a lot more confidence individually and collectively," Blanc said. "I hope we can use it in the future for the important (2012 European Championship) qualifiers coming up."
Les Bleus beat Brazil 3-0 at Stade de France in the 1998 final. In their only other meeting at the stadium since then, the teams tied 0-0 in May 2004.