France beat Switzerland 5-2 to lead its World Cup group, while Ecuador moved ahead of the Swiss with a 2-1 defeat of Honduras. Costa Rica defeated Italy 1-0 to reach the round of 16 and send England home from Brazil.
France -- the 1998 champion -- got first-half goals from Olivier Giroud, Blaise Matuidi and Mathieu Valbuena yesterday to take control, and then added scores from Karim Benzema and Moussa Sissoko to lead 5-0. Blerim Dzemaili and Granit Xhaka scored for the Swiss in the last 10 minutes in Salvador.
France beat Honduras in their opener, and now leads the group and controls its own destiny. France has six points, while the Swiss and Ecuador have three points in Group E. Honduras doesn’t have any.
“It was almost absolutely perfect,” France coach Didier Deschamps said. “We’ve got a good goal difference, and the third match will decide who finishes top and second in the group. We need to finish the job against Ecuador, and then we’ll be in a very different kind of competition.”
On June 25, France plays Ecuador in Rio de Janeiro and Honduras meets Switzerland in Manaus in the last group matches.
Today in Group F, Argentina takes on Iran in Belo Horizonte, and Nigeria plays Bosnia and Herzegovina in Cuiaba. In between, Germany meets Ghana in a Group G match in Fortaleza.
In Group D yesterday, Costa Rica beat Italy to advance from the group phase for the second time in team history.
Los Ticos have six points to lead the group over four-time world champion Italy and two-time tournament winner Uruguay, who have three points apiece. England, the 1966 champion, has no points after two defeats. Italy has to avoid defeat against Uruguay in their final group game to advance.
Luis Suarez scored twice in Uruguay’s 2-1 win over England two days ago to push the European team close to elimination. England needed Costa Rica to lose to keep any chance of avoiding elimination at the group stage for the first time since 1958. The Central Americans won their opening match 3-1 against Uruguay, while Italy beat England 2-1.
Bryan Ruiz headed in Junior Diaz’s cross-field pass in the 44th minute for the only goal in Recife. Costa Rica took the lead moments after Chilean referee Enrique Osses declined to give a spot kick when Joel Campbell went down in the Italian penalty area.
“It was a lovely game,” Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto said. “We’re really pleased by how Bryan got his goal at such an important time, just before the interval. We were playing against an incredible team and we’re very proud.”
The only other time Costa Rica reached the second stage was in its World Cup debut in 1990, when it beat Sweden and Scotland in the group phase before losing 4-1 to Czechoslovakia in the round of 16.
In the day’s final match, Ecuador got goals in each half from Enner Valencia to come back and beat Honduras, which had taken a first-half lead on Carlo Costly’s 31st-minute goal -- his country’s first in the World Cup since 1982. Three minutes later, Valencia tucked a deflected shot into the Honduras goal to even the match in Curitiba.
At the end of the first half, Honduras appeared to take the lead when Jerry Bengtson was first to react to the rebound off the post on a free kick, but was given a yellow card for pushing the ball in with his arm. In the 65th minute, Valencia headed in a free kick to give Ecuador the lead.