Swiss, French in World Cup Round of 16 as Ecuador Exits

Switzerland got three goals from Xherdan Shaqiri to beat Honduras and edge Ecuador to a World Cup round-of-16 matchup against Argentina. France also advanced to the knockout phase, where it will play Nigeria.

Switzerland beat Honduras 3-0 yesterday to finish runner-up in Group E behind France, which drew 0-0 with Ecuador. France ended with seven points, one more than the Swiss, with Ecuador two further back and Honduras on none.

France will play Group F runner-up Nigeria June 30, a day before Switzerland takes on Argentina for a place in the quarterfinals.

“They have really great qualities, they’re fast,” France coach Didier Deschamps said about his round-of-16 opponent. “We’re going to have to fight.”

Today, the U.S. and Germany will both progress if their Group G game in Recife, Brazil, ends in a draw. Portugal and Ghana are on one point each and both need a win coupled with a loss for the U.S. or Germany to have any chance of advancing.

In Group H in Sao Paulo, Korea plays Belgium, which has already advanced, while Algeria takes on Russia in Curitiba. Belgium has six points, three more than Algeria, while Russia and Korea each have one point.

Three Goals

Shaqiri scored for Switzerland in the sixth, 31st and 71st minutes in Manaus. He opened the scoring with a curling long-range shot, added the next with a low shot and got his third with another left-foot shot.

It’s the first time a Swiss player has scored three goals in a World Cup game since Josef Huegi got a hat-trick in a 7-5 quarterfinal loss against Austria in the 1954 edition.

France had the best chances in Rio De Janeiro, peppering goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez with 13 shots on target. Ecuador’s Antonio Valencia was dismissed early in the second half for raking his foot down the leg of France’s Lucas Digne.

Earlier in Group F, Argentina beat Nigeria 3-2 in a result that allowed both teams to advance as tournament newcomer Bosnia-Herzegovina overcame Iran 3-1 for its first World Cup victory.

Argentina finished atop the group with nine points after winning all of its games. Nigeria earned four points, one more than Bosnia, and Iran got one.

Messi Double

Argentina got two goals from Lionel Messi and one from Marcos Rojo after allowing the Nigerians to twice tie the game in Porto Alegre with goals from Ahmed Musa.

“We improved, were more mobile, passed the ball better and were quicker,” Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella said. “The further into the tournament we go, the more we’re finding our rhythm. The structure of the side is getting much better.”

Argentina took the lead for good when the ball came off Rojo’s knee and went into the Nigerian goal in the 50th minute, three minutes after Musa scored his second. The Nigerian also scored in the fourth minute, between goals from Messi in the third and 45th minutes.

Messi, a four-time World Player of the Year, has scored four times in the World Cup and has 10 goals in his past eight games for his country.

Iran still had a chance to advance to the next round going into its game with Bosnia in Salvador.

The European team opened the scoring in the 23rd minute when Edin Dzeko fired a left-footed shot from outside the box. Bosnia doubled its lead in the 59th minute, when midfielder Miralem Pjanic notched his first goal of the World Cup.

Reza Ghoochannejhad directed in a cross for Iran’s first goal of the event in the 82nd minute. Less than a minute later, Bosnia re-opened a two-goal lead as defender Avdija Vrsajevic scored on a counter-attack with a shot that went in off the post.

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