Friday, June 20, 2014 10:47 pm
Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema was again the star of a masterclass French performance at the ongoing World Cup, scoring one and providing three more to help France to a thrilling 5-2 win over Switzerland in Salvador.
Having scored two goals and seen a third awarded as an own goal in the opening 4-0 win over Honduras, Benzema was in prime form again despite starting on the left wing to accommodate Olivier Giroud who started upfront for France.
The two would combine for Les Bleus after 17 minutes as Giroud headed France ahead while Blaise Matuidi got on the end of a Benzema through ball a minute later to score France’s second.
The rampant start continued as Benzema was brought down in the area by Johan Djourou just after the hour mark, only for Diego Benaglio to keep Benzema’s penalty out while Yohan Cabaye’s rebound hit the Swiss crossbar.
Didier Deschamps’ men would get the third goal five minutes before half-time, breaking away from a Swiss cornerkick in a counterattack that ended with Giroud setting up Mathieu Valbuena to score against a shell-shocked Swiss side.
Switzerland edged the early second half proceedings as they tried to find a way back but Benzema finally got the goal his performance deserved after 67 minutes, slotting through Benaglio’s legs off a stylish pass from substitute Paul Pogba.
Moussa Sissoko, handed a starting place ahead of Paul Pogba, scored five minutes later off a Benzema pass to make it 5-0 for France with Valbuena and Matuidi denied by Benaglio in quick succession soon after.
Substitute Blerim Dzemaili pulled one back for Switzerland with a stunning 30-yard free-kick in the 81st minute as the Swiss finally got a breakthrough.
Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side went on to dominate the closing stages and got a second through a fierce Granit Xhaka shot, a minute after Xherdan Shaqiri had an effort saved by France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
Benzema then thought he had scored a second and France’s sixth late on but his lobbed effort over Benaglio was not counted as the referee had blown the final whistle, forcing France to settle for a nonetheless impressive 5-2 win.
France as a result now have six points from two matches to all but book a place in the last 16 while Switzerland remain second with three points. France will seal a place in the last 16 if Honduras defeat Ecuador later tonight in another Group E match.