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France through to round two

Sunday, June 22, 2014

SALVADOR, Brazil - France crushed Switzerland 5-2 yesterday to all but secure their place in the World Cup knockout rounds.

Goals from Olivier Giroud, Blaise Matuidi, Mathieu Valbuena, Karim Benzema and Moussa Sissoko gave rampant France a thumping victory. Blerim Dzemaili and Granit Xhaka scored two late consolation goals for Switzerland.

After beating Honduras 3-0 in their opening match, the win yesterday France has confirmed their qualification from Group E.

Switzerland went into the game as the group's top seeds ranked 11 places above France in FIFA's list at six. But their coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said before kick-off that 1998 world champions France were the true favourites.

And in a one-sided affair, Benzema also had a first half penalty saved and had a goal ruled out because it came two seconds after the final whistle.

Arsenal forward Giroud set the ball rolling by thumping home a Valbuena corner with his head.

Just a minute later, Benzema anticipated a Valon Behrami pass back and teed up Matuidi to beat Swiss goalkeeper Diego Benaglio, who should have done much better, at his near post.

Johan Djourou was harshly penalised for a foul on Benzema in the box but justice was done when Benaglio parried the French striker's spot-kick. Yohan Cabaye fired the rebound against the bar.

But the respite was short-lived as Giroud crossed for Valbuena to tap home on a lightning counter-attack, giving France a 3-0 lead at the break.

Switzerland capitulated late on as Philippe Senderos missed a through ball from substitute Paul Pogba and Benzema nutmegged Benaglio.

The Real Madrid forward then set up Sissoko to fire home from an angle as France ran riot before Dzemaili's late free-kick crept inside the post and Xhaka slammed past Hugo Lloris after latching onto a chip over the top.

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