SALVADOR – Gp E: Swizterland 0, France 5 latest
—- France, winners in 1998 and disasters in 2010, regained their World Cup pride and poise after a superb display of all-around-the-pitch football which shattered their south-eastern neighbours.
Les Bleus, needing to make amends for their self-inflicted disaster in 2010, were 2-0 up in 20 minutes against a Swiss side guilty of appalling defending from start to start.
Karim Benzema was among the goals in the second half and might have scored a hat-trick.
However he had a first-half penalty saved by Swiss keeper Diego Benaglio and was denied another goal when referee Bjorn Kuipers blew the final whistle while the Real Madrid striker was just about to shoot into the net.
The match went all wrong for Switzerland, first-game winners over Ecuador, in the opening minutes when central defender von Bergen was led off with a bad facial gash. Within a few more minutes their reshaped defence had been ripped apart twice.
First Olivier Giroud headed home magnificently from right-wing corner (17 minutes) then a perfect lay-off from Benzema provided goal No2 for Blaise Matuidi (19).
Ten minutes later Switzerland should have been back in the game. Lloris beat out a low drive from Mehmedi but Xherdan Shaqiri, running in on the left, fired wide of the far post.
Two minutes later Benzema had a penalty saved by Benaglio and Yohan Cabaye headed the rebound against the bar. But France were not to be denied much longer.
Benzema, on the counter attack, fired a long pass up the left for Giroud to run away and cross low to the far post when Matheiu Valbuena scored No3.
France did not let up after the interval. A delightul pass, with the outside of his right foot, from newly-arrived substitute Paul Pogba, presented Benzema with a fourth goal. Moussa Sissoko added No5 before Blerim Dzemaili and Granta Xhaka struck two late consolations for Switzerland.
Benzema was not popular here with his own keeper Hugo Lloris. He turned away from the ball in the defensive wall and lifted a foot to allow Napoli’s Dzemaili to strike a low 35-metre free kick through the wall.
Granta Xhaka scored a further Swiss goal with a finely-judged left-foot volley on the run.
France went back on the attack for Benzema to strike what he thought was his own second goal. Instead referee Kuipers had blown the final whistle a second before the centre-forward curled his shot over Benaglio and into the net.