Saturday 21 June 2014
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud and Newcastle United midfielder Moussa Sissoko were both on target as France swept Switzerland aside with an emphatic victory to move three points clear of their opponents and Ecuador at the top of Group E.
Les Bleus surged into a three-goal lead by half-time and could even afford to miss a penalty, taken by Karim Benzema before the interval, as six players from the Barclays Premier League contributed to their impressive victory. Two goals in as many minutes got the 1998 world champions off and running as Giroud met Mathieu Valbuena's corner with just over a quarter-hour played and Blaise Matuidi scored in their next attack.
Benzema's spot-kick, awarded after a foul by Arsenal defender Johan Djourou on the Real Madrid striker, was saved by Diego Benaglio with Yohan Cabaye, the former Newcastle midfielder, crashing the rebound against the bar, but the Swiss goalkeeper was beaten by Valbuena five minutes before half-time after Giroud broke clear to tee up the winger.
France, managed by former Chelsea midfielder Didier Deschamps, strengthened their world title credentials further when Benzema scored his third goal of the finals midway through the second half and then fed Sissoko to make it five on 73 minutes.
To their credit Switzerland, who brought on Aston Villa's new signing Philippe Senderos off the bench after nine minutes, refused to give up and managed to beat Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris twice in the final 10 minutes through Blerim Dzemaili and Granit Xhaka, but Deschamps' side had done enough to be top of their section ahead of their final group match against Ecuador.
BPL players to feature
France: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle), Patrice Evra (Manchester Uunited), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal, sub: 63), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle). Subs: Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal, 66). Subs not used: Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Loic Remy (QPR, on loan at Newcastle last season).
Goal: Giroud 17, Sissoko 73.
Switzerland: Johan Djourou (Arsenal, on loan at Hamburg last season).
Two goals by Enner Valencia enabled Ecuador to come from behind to overcome Honduras and move up to second in Group E, above Switzerland on goal difference.
A wonderful strike by Carlo Costly had put the Central Americans ahead, but Valencia equalised from close range before heading in the winner at the Arena da Baixada. Despite the best efforts of Hull City's Maynor Figueroa, who sent a long-range drive narrowly over, Honduras fell to their second defeat that leaves their hopes of emerging from the group stage extremely slim.
BPL players to feature
Honduras: Maynor Figueroa (Hull City).
Ecuador: Antonio Valencia (Manchester United).
Costa Rica pulled off another surprise victory to stun Italy in Recife, book their place in the last 16 and condemn England to an early exit from the competition.
Former Fulham midfielder Bryan Ruiz proved the matchwinner as his headed goal on the stroke of half-time earned Los Ticos a deserved victory over the four-time world champions.
Ruiz rose to head Junior Diaz's cross over Gianluigi Buffon and in off the underside of the bar from a tight angle on 44 minutes to give the Central American side the lead shortly after Costa Rica's Joel Campbell, the Arsenal forward, had claims for a penalty turned down. Italy, who beat England 2-1 last Saturday, could find no way through the five-man rearguard in a laboured second-half performance.
The Azzurri, for whom former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli again led the line, must avoid defeat in their final group encounter with Uruguay in order to reach the knockout stage. The 22 Barclays Premier League players in Roy Hodgson's side, meanwhile, can no longer qualify for the last 16 and will return home from Brazil 2014 after their final group match against Costa Rica regardless of the result.
BPL player to feature
Costa Rica: Joel Campbell (Arsenal, on loan at Olympiakos last season, 74).
3 Van Persie (Netherlands & Man Utd)
2 Luis Suarez (Uruguay & Liverpool)
1 Oscar (Brazil & Chelsea), Wilfried Bony (Ivory Coast & Swansea City), Daniel Sturridge (England & Liverpool), Joel Campbell (Costa Rica & Arsenal), Marouane Fellaini (Belgium & Manchester United), Mile Jedinak (Australia & Crystal Palace), Wayne Rooney (England & Manchester United), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal & France), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle & France).
* players classified as BPL players are those registered to 2014/15 Premier League clubs until 30 June, 2014, even if they are to be released or are or have been on loan at another club this season.
21 June (BST)
5pm Argentina v Iran
8pm Germany v Ghana
11pm Nigeria v Bosnia and Herzegovina