World Cup roundup: HON-SUI,ECU-FRA,NIG-ARG,BIH-IRN (June 25)
GROUP E: Honduras 0, Switzerland 3
MANAUS, Brazil (AP) — Xherdan Shaqiri's hat trick put Switzerland into the second round of the World Cup, and kept coach Ottmar Hitzfeld gainfully employed for at least a few more days.
Shaqiri scored a pair of first-half goals and added another in the second Wednesday to give Switzerland a 3-0 victory over Honduras, a result that put the Swiss in second place in Group E behind France.
"We knew that we were going to show great football today," said Shaqiri, a Bayern Munich winger. " For us, this has been really a dream to be in the World Cup, small Switzerland in the World Cup."
The small Swiss will next face the not-so-small Lionel Messi and Argentina on Tuesday in Sao Paulo in what could be Hitzfeld's final match. The German veteran, a two-time Champions League winner as a coach, has said this tournament will be his last.
"We are really anxious for that. We also know that we are not the favorites for the match, but we are going to try for victory," Shaqiri said. "Getting to the round of 16, everything is possible. You never know."
Switzerland and Honduras played each other at the World Cup in South Africa exactly four years ago, on June 25, 2010, but that match ended in a 0-0 draw and both teams were eliminated.
This time, the Swiss move on and Hitzfeld has plenty more work to do against Argentina.
"(It's) going to be a match that we have nothing to lose. We have a lot to gain," Hitzfeld said. "We do have a chance, even against Argentina."
GROUP E: Ecuador 0, France 0
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — France's much-vaunted attack missed a series of chances as it drew 0-0 with 10-man Ecuador to reach the knockout stage of the World Cup on Wednesday, while the South Americans bowed out of the tournament.
France, which ended with seven points, had scored eight goals in two games and 39 in its previous 11.
"I'm proud of what the players have achieved," France coach Didier Deschamps said. "We didn't take our chances, but that takes nothing away from our joy. We had to be vigilant against an Ecuador side that was quick and looked dangerous even with 10 men."
Ecuador's chances were hindered at Rio's Maracana stadium after Antonio Valencia was shown a straight red card in the 50th minute for digging his studs into the leg of French defender Lucas Digne.
But Ecuador may feel upset that France center half Mamadou Sakho was not shown a red card in the eighth minute when he appeared to elbow Oswaldo Minda in the face during a France corner. Then, in a late incident off the ball, France forward Olivier Giroud jabbed his elbow in to Gabriel Achilier, who was standing behind him.
"Some of the decisions made by the referee did not favor us," Ecuador coach Reinaldo Rueda said. "It's quite regrettable what happened. I believe this is now in the hands of the committee that assesses the behavior of referees . This was not the ideal behavior in many split decisions. I don't think it's worth going into that now."
Deschamps says he "did not see" the incident with Sakho because the "coach's bench is a bit low."
GROUP F: Nigeria 2, Argentina 3
PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) — About a dozen Argentine fans couldn’t get enough of the smell of victory in the Beira-Rio Stadium, dancing and singing in their seats more than than an hour after their team beat Nigeria 3-2.
They had good reason to celebrate.
Once again Lionel Messi had put on a World Cup show with two goals, but this time his whole team — aside from a couple of defensive blunders — was part of the performance.
In its third straight win, Argentina attacked with more flair than previously and could have scored more goals if it weren’t for some good saves by Nigeria’s goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.
Ahmed Musa kept things interesting by twice erasing Argentina’s lead, before Marcos Rojo kneed in the winner from a corner.
“We played against a team that wanted to play,” Messi said. “I think we saw a good Argentina. We need to continue on this path.”
Before the match, which saw both teams advance from Group F, Enyeama was the only goalkeeper in the tournament who hadn’t conceded a goal. In Porto Alegre it took just three minutes for Messi to beat him.
Nigeria replied within a minute as Musa cut in from the left and beat Sergio Romero with a curling shot toward the far post.
Then just before halftime Messi stunned Enyeama again, with a long-range free kick that rose over the wall then dipped sharply to slip in just inside the post.
“Messi is from Jupiter, he is different,” Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi said.
Argentina had already secured advancement but needed at least a draw to win the group. Nigeria advanced thanks to Bosnia beating Iran, going through on four points.
Just before the match tragedy struck in Nigeria as an explosion rocked a shopping mall in the capital, Abuja, and police said at least 21 people were killed.
The blast came as Nigerians were preparing to watch the World Cup match but it was unclear if the explosion was timed to coincide with the match, which started an hour later.
Keshi said he wasn’t aware of the explosion during the match and condemned it.
GROUP F: Bosnia-Herzegovina 3, Iran 1
SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — Bosnia-Herzegovina ended Iran’s hopes of advancing to the knockout stages with a 3-1 victory in Group F on Wednesday, registering its first World Cup win in the process.
The Bosnians, who were already relegated from the tournament, took a commanding 2-0 lead with goals from Edin Dzeko in the 23rd and Miralem Pjanic in the 53rd before Iran hit back in a desperate late bid to qualify for the second round.
Reza Ghoochannejhad gave some hope to the Iranians with a tap-in goal in the 81st, but Avdija Vrsaljevic replied immediately with his low shot from the edge of the area to restore the two-goal lead.
Iran needed a win to have any chance of advancing.
“Sorry to our opponents, but this was also an important win for us so we could hold our heads up high leaving this tournament,” Bosnia-Herzegovina coach Safet Susic said. “Throughout the match we were those who wanted to win more.”
The Bosnians were already out of contention at their first World Cup following consecutive losses to Argentina and Nigeria.
Playing at its fourth World Cup, the Iran squad faced criticism for its dour defensive tactics after a 0-0 draw against Nigeria.
“I was a bit surprised by Iran, they needed a win and they were calculating,” Susic said. “That backfired for them. Maybe they could not change their habits.”