by Richard Duke © Richard Duke (June 25th 2014)
A hat-trick by Xherdan Shaqiri, the second of the tournament, put the Swiss into the last 16, after a comfortable win against a limited but spirited Honduran side in Manaus. In fairly humid conditions the Swiss knew that as long as they bettered Ecuadorʼs result against France, they would go into the next phrase and it did not take them long to take the lead.
In the 6th minute Shaqiri scored a wonder goal. The Bayern Munich forward scored a goal out of nothing from about 25 yards. He pinged a left foot shot past the Honduran keeper Noel Valladares who seemed to wave bye bye to the ball as he thought it was going wide, but instead the ball landed in the top left corner.
As the first half wore on the Swiss were in complete control as the Hondurans were tackling in their roughshod manner which has been their hallmark of the tournament. The Swiss who were causing problems to the Hondurans with their movement up front. Meanwhile, Honduras seemed to be getting dispirited and in the 31st minute Switzerland made it two with a breakaway goal.
Deep in their own half, the Swiss won the ball through their captain Gökhan Inler who then played it out to Drmić, who then played the ball out to Shaqiri in the centre and with the Honduran defence wide open, Shaqiri slipped the ball coolly past Valladares.
As the second half kicked off with Honduras making a substitution of Marvin Chavez coming on for Roger Epinoza, Honduras knew that they were going out of the World Cup, and made a spirited start, and had a chance from Jerry Bengtson who had a shot cleared of the line and Jerry Palacios had a penalty appeal turned away by the Argentinian referee after a slight touch by Johan Djourou.
Switzerland made the game safe in the 71st minute with Shaqiri completing his hat trick, again with another breakaway, and again Josip Drmić was involved, as the ball was played out wide by Ricardo Rodríguez to Drmić. After beating a defender Drmić passed to Shaqiri who again easily beat the keeper with a left foot shot, without a Honduran defender in sight – game over.
Also that goal was the 50th hat-trick in World Cup history. With the game as good as finished Shaqiri was substitued with 5 mins left to receive a well earned ovation from the Swiss fans.
After hearing the news that Ecuador had only drawn with France, the Swiss knew that they were on the way to the next round. So Ottmar Hitzfeld knows he has one more game at least before he retires as Swiss coach. Unfortunately for them itʼs against Argentina, led by an inspired Lionel Messi.