France are on the brink of reaching the World Cup last 16 after their emphatic 5-2 win over Switzerland on Friday kept them in control of Group E.
The French backed up their opening 3-0 win over Honduras by racing into a 2-0 lead as Olivier Giroud's 16th-minute header was followed by Blaise Matuidi's goal just 66 seconds later.
Diminutive right-winger Mathieu Valbuena put the result beyond doubt with France's third just before the break.
Karim Benzema missed a first-half penalty, but then netted their fourth before midfielder Moussa Sissoko also claimed a second-half goal.
Only the heroics of Swiss goalkeeper Diego Benaglio prevented more French goals before Blerim Dzemaili and Granit Xhaka scored late consolation goals. Switzerland have not beaten France since 1992.
"This could have been more than perfect," Didier Deschamps, the French coach, told the cameras after the game. He suggested he was not happy that his team had conceded two late goals.
"We were up against a good team and to score five goals and win 5-2, it was a very good evening.
"Six points after two matches is ideal. We have to wait for the next match but we have a good goal difference and the next match will decide first and second place."
If Ecuador does not beat Honduras in the late game in Curitiba, France will be sure of a place in the second round.
Unless the late match ends in a draw, the Swiss will go into their last group match against Honduras next Wednesday needing to win. They beat Ecuador 2-1 in their opener.
"I'm very disappointed by our defeat, it was a very bleak day for us," said Ottmar Hitzfeld, the Swiss coach. "The French were ice cold in taking their chances and they had excellent counter-attacks."
Hitzfeld was forced into an early change when centre-back Steven von Bergen had to leave the field with a heavy cut over his left eye, Philippe Senderos replacing him.
Giroud, back in for Antoine Griezmann after spending most of the first match on the bench, wasted little time in repaying Deschamps' faith for the opening goal.
He met Valbuena's floated corner and his looping header beat Benaglio despite the goalkeeper getting an outstretched glove ot the ball.
It was France's 100th goal at World Cup finals.
The French doubled their lead 66 seconds later as Benzema snapped up a stray pass, charged into the Swiss half and put away midfielder Matuidi, who fired inside Benaglio's near post.
The Swiss came perilously close to pulling a goal back as a Xhaka strike was ruled offside, then Xherdan Shaqiri's shot flew across the French goal.
There was drama in the 31st minute when Swiss defender Johan Djourou was adjudged to have fouled Benzema to give away a penalty. But Benzema’s spot kick was blocked by Benaglio and Cabaye's follow-up hit the crossbar.
France's third goal was came from a rapid, precise counter-attackg as Benzema claimed the ball after a Swiss corner and passed to Rafael Varane who put Giroud into space on the left wing.
On the anniversary of their infamous strike at South Africa 2010, France put themselves amongst the World Cup favourites.
The Fonte Nova Arena in Salvador has now seen 17 goals in three World Cup matches - the most by far of Brazil's 12 venues, after the Netherlands routed Spain 5-1 here and Germany hammered Portugal 4-0 last Monday.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
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Date created : 2014-06-20