Classy midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri has inspired Switzerland to victory and a place in the knockout phases of the 2014 FIFA World Cup this morning, scoring a hat-trick in his nation’s comfortable 3-0 victory over Honduras at the Arena Amazonia in Manaus.
Perched on three points alongside fellow Group E contenders Ecuador prior to this morning’s match, the task at hand for Switzerland was simple; win and win well, with the South American’s facing a far-tougher task in their match with an in-form France.
Flying from the gates as expected, Switzerland took control of the match from the opening whistle, rushing into the Honduran half and taking the lead just six minutes in as Shaqiri finished off an exceptional lead-up.
Continuing to maintain possession, Switzerland barely allowed Honduras time to move, and it was only a matter of time before the Swiss once again found the back of the net, this time on the half hour mark and arguably more as a result of Honduras’s scrambling defence; however the finish was still impressive.
Victor Bernardez offered a poor effort of cutting out a less-than powerful through ball, allowing Josip Drmic to take possession down the left wing before squaring the ball to Shaqiri, who took two touches and sent goalkeeper Noel Valladares the wrong way before tapping the ball into the opposite corner.
Honduras were offered a few good chances of their own in the latter stages of the first half, but well and truly lacked a final touch; finding the break two-nil down.
Returning in the second half in similarly positive form, Honduras settled into a rhythm and began to take advantage of an arguably complacent Swiss side, peaking with classy mid Jerry Bengston coming agonizingly close to pegging one back when beating shot stopper Diego Benaglio, only to have his strike cut off on the line by Ricardo Rodriguez.
Denied a shout for a penalty ten minutes later, Honduran heads appeared to drop again when Shaqiri finished from close range, putting the game well and truly out of reach of the Central Americans at a match-ending score of 3-0.
Clearly the performer of the match, Shaqiri played a huge part in cementing Switzerland’s place in the Round of 16, in which his nation will face a huge task in Argentina.
Set to be contested at 2am AEST on Wednesday morning, Switzerland are currently offered at exceptional odds of $8 to beat Argentina and progress to the quarter finals at leading online bookie Ladbrokes.com.au.