Juventus
    Juventus
      21.06.2014 13:21 - in: Other competitions S

      Pogba plays part as five-star France subdue the Swiss

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      Les Bleus all but secure their spot in the knockout stage with a crushing defeat of Switzerland. Bianconeri duo Pogba and Lichtsteiner on opposing sides

      Five goals and it would have been a tennis score if Karim Benzema had only been allowed a few more seconds, following a missed penalty and a host of other squandered chances. France aren't yet mathematically sure of their place in the second round but they've certainly laid down the gauntlet to anyone else with their sights on the World Cup trophy.

      The 1998 champions did that last night by blowing away Ottmar Hitzfeld's Swiss outfit with a display of immense athleticism and confidence.

      It was also the opportunity to see a Bianconeri duel between Stephan Lichtsteiner and Paul Pogba, although we had to wait for an hour as Didier Deschamps opted to leave the talented Frenchman out of his starting line-up on this occasion.

      It was downhill for our transalpine cousins before the 20-minute mark. Olivier Giroud leapt highest to meet a 17th-minute corner and steer in France's 100th goal at World Cup finals, and that opening goal tore the Swiss apart at the seams. Just seconds after the restart, Valon Behrami played a poor backpass straight into the path of Benzema and the Real Madrid hitman fed Blaise Matuidi, whose crisp, angled finish fizzed inside the near post for France's second in little over a minute.

      Benzema was handed a gilt-edged opportunity to get his own name on the score sheet around 10 minutes later when he was tripped in the box by Johan Djourou, but he saw his spot kick saved by Diego Benaglio, Yohan Cabaye then spectacularly crashing the rebound against the bar.

      The French did make it 3-0 shortly before the interval though: Giroud charged down the wing at breakneck speed before sliding another morsel across to the far post on a plate for Mathieu Valbuena to lap up.

      Switzerland went in at the break shell-shocked, having conceded more goals in 45 minutes than they had in their previous eight World Cup games (two).

      Pogba came on in the 63rd minute and made a near instant impact as he flicked an exquisite outside-of-the-boot pass into the area for Benzema to hook through the keeper's legs. Goal number four for France and nine for the striker in his last nine internationals. The recent Champions League winner has also had a hand in five of France's last eight goals and he again turned provider on 73 minutes when he set up Moussa Sissoko to make it 5-0.

      Lichtsteiner (two crosses and 30 passes in the opposition's half last night) could do little to shake his side out of their slumber, but Blerim Dzemaili did manage to pull one back with 10 minutes to go when he drilled a free kick straight through the wall and into the bottom corner. Granit Xhaka then beat the offside trap and clipped home a beautifully taken volley to further reduce the arrears but it was "two little two late" for the Swiss on this occasion. The referee called time on proceedings just seconds before Benzema scored what would have been a stunning sixth.

      Deschamps' team climb up to six points and are now all but certain of qualifying for the last 16, while Switzerland remain in the running with Ecuador. The last round of fixtures sees the Swiss take on Honduras and the South Americans lock horns with France next Wednesday.

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