Forwards Olivier Giroud and Karim Benzema each scored one goal and created another as a rampant France blew away Switzerland 5-2 Friday to take control of Group E and all but seal a place in the next round.
France has six points and can qualify if Ecuador and Honduras draw later on Friday.
“It was a great night for us. We hurt them with our quick attacks and with the variety of our play,” France coach Didier Deschamps said. “You can always ask if it’s us who played well or whether the opponent was weak, but I prefer to focus on how we played.”
Giroud and Blasie Matuidi scored a minute apart and Mathieu Valbuena added another to give France a 3-0 halftime lead.
Benzema made up for a first-half penalty miss with a poacher’s finish in the 67th, and then turned provider for Moussa Sissoko, who made it 5-0 with a neat side-footed effort in the 73rd.
“Karim is confirming that he’s in very, very good form. He’s in great shape athletically,” Deschamps said. “His happiness is a joy to behold, he’s one of the best players in the world and having such an efficient player is very important in a competition like this.”
Switzerland pulled two consolation goals back as Blerim Dzemaili scored with a free kick in the 81st and Granit Xhaka slotted in the second in the 87th.
Benzema thought he had scored his second – and the goal of the night – but his curling, first-time strike was ruled out because Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers blew his whistle for full time just seconds before the shot.
“I didn’t hear the whistle,” Benzema said. “But the most important thing is that we won. I’m happy with my match, but we all played well.”
Friday marked the fourth anniversary of France’s infamous World Cup training ground strike four years ago in South Africa, when the players shamed a nation back home.
How different things look now.
France has scored eight goals in two games and Benzema could even afford to miss a penalty against a poor Swiss side that failed to live up to its reputation as one of the hardest teams around to break down.
“I don’t want to put a brake on the enthusiasm. It’s a huge satisfaction within the team but we’re not going to get carried away,” Deschamps said. “We shouldn’t think we’re prettier than we are.”
Giroud had distinguished himself the wrong way early on. In the sixth minute, center half Steve Von Bergen came off with blood pouring down from under his left eye after Giroud kicked him in the face.
Von Bergen was replaced by Philippe Senderos and things went from bad to awful from then on as Switzerland’s makeshift defense simply could not …continued »