MANAUS – Gp E: Honduras 0, Switzerland 3
—- A hat-trick from Bayern Munich’s Xherdan Shaqiri saw Switzerland beat Honduras to set up a tie with Argentina in the second round of the World Cup.
The Europeans took an early lead as Shaqiri scored with a fine 25-yard strike, before he twice converted Josip Drmic passes to make it 3-0. Jerry Bengtson had the best chance for Honduras but his shot was cleared off the line by defender Ricardo Rodriguez.
The Swiss, who scored more than one goal in the first half of a World Cup match for the first time since 1966, now advance to face Argentina in the second round in Sao Paulo on Tuesday.
Honduras have failed to win any of their nine World Cup matches in three separate tournaments and finished bottom of Group E with three defeats from three matches.
Luis Fernando Suarez quit as coach immediately after the game, saying that “a change was necessary for the benefit of the Honduran team.”
Shaqiri, who has been linked with a move to Liverpool or Manchester United, was the second man to score a hat-trick in the finals after Bayern Munich team-mate Thomas Muller against Portugal. His was the 50th hat-trick in finals history.
Switzerland, ranked sixth in the world and the top-seeded team in the group, began the day in third, but needed to win and hope Ecuador failed to beat France.
With the South Americans managing only to draw 0-0 in Rio, that left an opportunity for Ottmar Hitzfeld’s Swiss team to move into the last 16 for the third time in six tournaments.
After losing 5-2 to France in their last match, Switzerland produced a better performance in Manaus and went ahead with Shaqiri’s sixth-minute opener. Three Honduras defenders backed off as the 22-year-old cut in from the right and curl an effort beyond Noel Valladares.
The game appeared over after 30 minutes when poor defending from Honduras allowed Drmic to collect Gokhan Inler’s ball from defence and square for an unmarked Shaqiri.
Wigan’s Juan Carlos Garcia dragged a shot wide and Brayan Beckeles also missed when well placed in the Hondurans’ only notable efforts of the opening 45 minutes.
But they produced a greater threat after the break and Bengtson was unlucky as he took the ball around goalkeeper Diego Benaglio, only to shoot against Rodriguez.
They were denied a penalty when substitute Jerry Palacios was bundled over by Johan Djorou but any of their hopes were ended when Shaqiri scored his third in the 71st minute, converting another assist from Drmic.
Suarez said afterwards: “I am not satisfied by what we achieved at the World Cup. The team will have good results in the future, but someone can replace me. I am sad I didn’t manage to fulfil the mission they entrusted me with.
“I’m going to go on with my career. I still have a lot of will to work and do things for soccer. I will be always be connected and listening to news about Honduras and always try to help them.”