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Hat-trick against Honduras

Shaq shines as Swiss go through

Dynamic and deadly Xherdan Shaqiri turned in a scintillating performance at the World Cup in Brazil on Wednesday night, firing a sumptuous hat-trick to earn Switzerland a 3-0 victory over Honduras and a place in the last sixteen. With Ecuador held to a goalless draw by Group E winners France, the Swiss seized second place from the South Americans and ensured Europe will have at least five representatives when the tournament moves into the knockout stages.

Ottmar Hitzfeld’s team made a dream start thanks to Bayern man Shaqiri, who cut inside from the right on six minutes and curled a left-footed belter into the far top corner of the Honduras net. Shaq kept his cool in the sweltering heat of Manaus half an hour into the match, showing sublime close control and nerves of steel to finish off a quick break. The 22-year-old crowned a superb personal display with hi side’s third goal, again on the break, to kill off the Central Americans’ resistance once and for all 20 minutes from the end.

Despite the clear-cut victory, Hitzfeld’s men still needed a helping hand from the French in the wake of their own 5-2 reverse against Les Bleus on the previous matchday. The Swiss went into the final round of group fixtures on three points with four goals scored and six conceded, with France on six points (goal difference +6) and Ecuador in second spot on three points with three scored and three conceded. Shaqiri’s hat-trick rendered all the pre-match math redundant and booked a glamour knockout round tie for the men from the Alpine Republic against joint favourites Argentina next Tuesday.