|Stadium||Arena Fonte Nova|
Steve von Bergen
Gökhan Inler (c)
France are on the brink of reaching the World Cup Round of 16 after an emphatic 5-2 victory over Switzerland at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador on Friday.
It was vintage France for the majority as they produced a dominant display on their way to back-to-back victories for the first time in the World Cup group stages since 1998, although two consolation goals for Switzerland subdued the atmosphere late on.
Two goals in as many minutes from Olivier Giroud and Blaise Matuidi got France off to a flying start and Karim Benzema should have made it three moments later from the penalty spot.
The Real Madrid striker was denied by Diego Benaglio, but Didier Deschamps’ side were not deterred as Mathieu Valbuena added a third before the break before Benzema and Moussa Sissoko got in the act in the second period.
Swiss substitute Blerim Dzemaili slipped a free-kick through the French wall before a neatly-taken goal from Granit Xahaka put a late blot on a fine French display.
France took the lead on 17 minutes as Giroud took advantage of some loose marking to head beyond Benaglio from a corner and their second came within 13 seconds of the restart.
With Switzerland in disarray, Benzema nipped in to snatch possession and released Matuidi, who drifted into the box before firing beyond a helpless Benaglio for his only his second international goal.
When Johan Djourou tripped Benzema in the box, France should have extended their lead even further but a fine save from Benaglio forced the ball on the framework before Yohan Cabaye’s rebound effort ricocheted off the woodwork.
France remained relentless and their attacking approach paid dividends with a beautiful counter-attacking display, completed by Valbuena.
After winning the ball back from a Swiss corner, Raphael Varane slid a precision through-ball to Giroud, who squared beautifully across the face of goal and Valbuena was left to smash into the roof of the Swiss net.
France continued where they left off following the restart and Benzema finally found his third goal of the tournament as he slotted through the legs of Benaglio after a fine ball from the outside of Paul Pogba's boot.
Switzerland could not even rely on their captain as Gokhan Inler gifted France possession in a dangerous position and Benzema selflessly slid the ball through to Sissoko, who took his first international goal well.
Deschamps' side continued to chase a sixth, but their focus on attack came at a cost as Dzemaili was allowed to strike a low free kick from distance straight through the French wall, which left Lloris helpless.
Switzerland's second late on was one of the finest of the match was Inler chipped a pin-point ball over the French defence, which was met on the full by Xhaka, who slotted beyond Lloris with ease.
France were convinced they had found a sixth when Benzema curled a stunning effort into the top left corner of the Swiss goal, but Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers insisted the full-time whistle had already been blown.