2014-06-26 09:49:34

Switzerland survive on Shaqiri hat-trick, Ecuador empty-handed

Bayern Munich's Xherdan Shaqiri scored all three to win Switzerland a reprieve against Honduras in Group E. France drew 0-0 with Ecuador in the other game, meaning the Swiss join "les Bleus" in the knockout stages.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter was cheering on his home team in Manaus on Wednesday, where he watched Bayern Munich's Xherdan Shaqiri fire three past Honduras. The 3-0 win, coupled with France's goalless draw against Ecuador's 10 men, puts Ottmar Hitzfeld's side through in second along with the French.

Shaqiri's best goal was his first, a swirling long shot with his powerful left peg that ricocheted in off the Honduran crossbar just six minutes into the game. The want-away Bayern midfielder, who might have hoped to raise his profile internationally in Brazil, wasn't finished there.

Bundesliga running mate Josip Drmic turned provider for Shaqiri's second and third, scored half an hour into the match and 20 minutes before the end. Drmic's second assist was particularly noteworthy, as he embarrassed Victor Bernardez on the left flank before laying the ball into Shaqiri's path.

Honduras provided their usual combative performance but only really controlled the period immediately after half time. The central Americans needed both to win and to score two to have any hope of progressing, both feats the country had never before achieved at a World Cup. On Wednesday, in the Amazon basin, they couldn't turn the form book.

The Swiss victory did not categorically decide Group E; had Ecuador beaten France by the right margin, they could have progressed in the Swiss' stead.

Heavy favorites France controlled most of the match, and played out the latter phases with a personnel advantage after captain Antonio Valencia was sent off. The Ecuadorian was dispossessed by Lucas Digne, and his boot rolled off the ball onto the French defender's leg as he slid through. Ivorian referee Noumandiez Desiredoue deemed it worthy of a red.

France might have lost players on the night as well. Mamadou Sakho and substitute striker Olivier Giroud both hit out at Ecuadorian players with their elbows during the game, but their indiscretions were not spotted.

Ecuador's goalie Alexander Dominguez was busier than French captain Hugo Lloris at the other end. Dominguez denied Paul Pogba, Moussa Sissoko, Karim Benzema and others, but his best save was a reflex stop preventing Antoine Griezmann from close range.

Ecuador's best chances fell after the side were reduced to 10 men. Christian Noboa, who played much of the match with an improvized full-head bandage after picking up a blood injury, and Michael Arroyo both failed to find the target with late chances to put Ecuador ahead.

France ultimately held onto the 0-0 draw in the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, booking a spot in the last 16 against Group F runners-up Nigeria. Switzerland will face Lionel Messi and Argentina in the next round.

(agencies, imedia)

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