SWITZERLAND 2-5 FRANCE
FRIDAY 20TH JUNE – SALVADOR
Five different players were on target for the Les Bleus at Salvador as they beat Switzerland 5-2 to qualify to the next round of the World Cup. The French were literally unplayable for Switzerland in the first half and even though Switzerland did put up a fight during the last twenty minutes of the match to pull two goals back,the result was never really in doubt.
Switzerland were forced into an early change in the ninth minute after Von Bergen came out bleeding from an aerial clash with Olivier Giroud. Veteran Philip Senderos replaced him to earn his 54th cap for the country.
In the 17th minute ,Valbuena’s corner kick found the head of Giroud who’s header looped into the net to open the scoring. Benaglio got the slightest of touches on the ball but it was far from enough.
Just over a minute later, Benzema picked up a poor back pass from Behrami and then found his teammate Blaise Matuidi who had made a darting run into the box. Matuidi finished the chance with a cool near-post finish and the French were 2-0 up in the blink of an eye.
After the second goal the French created an array of chances and Switzerland striker Seferovic was left an isolated figure. Granit Xhaka the man who plays for Monchen Gladbach in the Bundesliga and a goal denied by the linesman in the 27th minute as he was rightly judged offside,but soon just after striking the French net, the ball was back in Switzerland’s box where Benzema was fouled by Switzerland’s Djourou and the referee immediately pointed to the spot turning a deaf ear to the protests made by Djourou and his colleagues.
Benzema took the responsibility of taking the spotkick but his shot from 12 yards out was saved by goalkeeper Benaglio and Cabaye’s effort from the rebound was denied by the woodwork.
But Hitzfeld’s men could not deny the fierce French side their third goal much longer and in the 40th minute a blistering French counter-attack that started from a corner that they defended beautifully and the resulting counter-attack saw Switzerland’s defence outnumbered and outpaced and Giroud’s low ball into the six-yard box found Mathieu Valbuena who just couldn’t miss and made it 3-0 to the Les Bleus.
Switzerland made a half-time substitution which saw Behrami make way for Dzemaili. The French had not picked up in the second half from where they had left it in the first and there was a lull in the game for the first twenty minutes of the second half. In the 63rd minute, Paul Pogba replaced Olivier Giroud and soon after in the 67th Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho goes down claiming tightness in his hamstring and he was replaced by Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny.
The French broke the second half deadlock soon after Sakho’s substitution when a superb aerial assist from Pogba found Karim Benzema in the box whose acrobatic shot slipped in between the legs of Benaglio and found the net.
In the 69th minute, Switzerland made their last substitution as Drmic came on for Seferovic. In the 73rd minute quick inter-play between the french saw Benzema finding Moussa Sissoko who applied an exquisite first-touch finish to put the French 5-0 ahead.
At this point Hitzfeld’s men were just keeping possession and their main objective seemed to be keeping the French from making the scoreline anymore embarassing for them. But that changed in the 81st minute when Blerim Dzemaili scored from a free-kick that was struck low and hard and passed right through the French wall to find the bottom corner.
The goal seemed to have brought new life into the Switzerland team as they dominated possesion in the closing stages of the game and Inler seemed to be in-charge of the mid-fied dictating possesion. His immaculate aerial pass found Granit Xhaka in the French penalty area who had timed his run superbly and finished the chance beautifully without having to take a second touch on the ball. The score was now 5-2 and Switzerland had earned themselves some consolation.
Benzema was denied a second goal as a result of bizarre circumstances as the referee blew the full-time whistle milliseconds before Benzema had put the ball in Switzerland’s net yet again.
Nevertheless it was a brilliant victory for a French side that could very well be one of the formidable sides this World Cup.
SWITZERLAND: Benaglio, Lichtsteiner, Von Bergen (Senderos 9), Rodriguez, Djourou, Inler, Xhaka, Behrami (Dzemaili 46), Shaqiri, Seferovic (Drmic 69), Mehmedi.
GOALS: Dzemaili 81, Xhaka 87.
FRANCE: Lloris, Debuchy, Evra, Varane, Sakho (Koscielny 66), Valbuena (Griezmann 82), Cabaye, Matuidi, Sissoko, Benzema, Giroud (Pogba 63).
GOALS: Giroud 17, Matiudi 18, Valbuena 40, Benzema 67, Sissoko 73.
BOOKINGS: Cabaye 88.