MANAUS, Brazil: Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri erased his side’s lingering World Cup pain in Manaus yesterday, scoring a hat-trick to see off Honduras 3-0 and secure a daunting last-16 tie against Lionel Messi’s Argentina.
Four years ago the Central Americans denied Switzerland a place in the knockout rounds by holding out for a 0-0 draw.
Ottmar Hitzfeld’s team, sixth in the FIFA rankings, came into the game level on points with Ecuador in Group E, three points off leaders France, knowing a victory would likely see them progress.
In just the sixth minute Bayern Munich midfielder Shaqiri found the target with an unstoppable left-footed strike from just outside the area that flew past a helpless Valladares and into the top corner.
Honduras, who came into game on the back of two defeats, enjoyed long spells of possession but did not threaten Diego Benaglio’s goal and just after the half-hour the Swiss doubled their lead following a swift counter-attack.
Victor Bernardez made a mistake in midfield and Drmic raced forward before playing in Shaqiri, who kept his composure with just the goalkeeper to beat, slotting the ball to his left.
He became the first Swiss player to score multiple goals in a World Cup match since 1954.
But Switzerland killed the game 20 minutes from time. Drmic, enjoying his role on the left, beat Bernardez and again found Shaqiri, who was unerring in his finish. They will meet Argentina in Sao Paulo on Tuesday while France, who topped the group after a 0-0 draw with Ecuador, will play Nigeria in Brasilia the previous day. AFP