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France beats Swiss 5-2 to take control of Group E

By Jerome Pugmire

SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) - Forwards Olivier Giroud and Karim Benzema each scored one goal and created another as a rampant France blew away Switzerland 5-2 Friday to take control of Group E and all but seal a place in the next round.

France has six points and can qualify if Ecuador and Honduras draw later Friday.

Giroud and Blasie Matuidi scored a minute apart and Mathieu Valbuena added another to give France a 3-0 halftime lead.

Benzema made up for a first-half penalty miss with a poacher's finish in the 67th, and then turned provider for Moussa Sissoko, who made it 5-0 with a neat side-footed effort in the 73rd.

Switzerland pulled two consolation goals back as Blerim Dzemaili scored with a free kick in the 81st and Granit Xhaka slotted in the second in the 87th.

Benzema thought he had scored his second - and the goal of the night - but his curling, first-time strike was ruled out because Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers blew his whistle for full time just seconds before the shot.

Friday marked the fourth anniversary of France's infamous World Cup training ground strike four years ago in South Africa, when the players shamed a nation back home.

How different things look now.

France has scored eight goals in two games and Benzema could even afford to miss a penalty against a poor Swiss side that failed to live up to its reputation as one of the hardest teams around to break down.

Giroud had distinguished himself the wrong way early on. In the sixth minute, center half Steve Von Bergen came off with blood pouring down from under his left eye after Giroud kicked him in the face challenging for the ball.

Von Bergen was replaced by Philippe Senderos and things went from bad to awful from then on as Switzerland's makeshift defense simply could not cope with the ferocious pace of France's breaks from midfield and the slick movement of its interchanging forward line.

"France has excellent individual players and they can go very far in this tournament. When the opponent has such strong individual players, they can move quickly to counterattack," Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said through a translator. "We have seen France's potential. They had an explosion of power and this shows the class of this team."

Deschamps had dropped midfielder Paul Pogba, who was lucky not to be sent off against Honduras for aiming a wild kick at Wilson Palacios, warning him that he needs to control his temper better.

After coming on as a substitute, Pogba sent an exquisite pass with the outside of his right boot that had Senderos kicking at air, and Benzema finished confidently for his third goal of the tournament. The Real Madrid forward then instigated a move and waited for Sissoko to break down the right, serving him with an inch-perfect pass.

Deschamps waved his hands in frustration after Switzerland's second goal, but it was his substitution - replacing Mamadou Sakho with Laurent Koscielny - that unsettled the defense.

The Swiss conceded too easily throughout the game.

Giroud jumped above Behrami from near the back of the penalty area to head powerfully under the crossbar in the 17th minute. Then, Valon Behrami gave the ball away to Benzema, who fed Matuidi sprinting down the left, and the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder slotted neatly inside the near post.

The Swiss had only one shot on target in the first half, with goalkeeper Hugo Lloris diving low to keep out Mehmedi's drive. Shaqiri picked up the rebound and scuffed a low shot that rolled just wide.

That close miss went unpunished by Benzema, who missed from the spot after being tripped by Johan Djourou in the 32nd. Yohan Cabaye hit the crossbar from the rebound.

It mattered little as France caught Switzerland with a classic counterattack, Giroud galloping into space down the left and picking out Valbuena at the back post.

Valbuena sprinted over to jump on Giroud as he gave him a celebratory piggy back-ride.

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Kate June 20 2014 at 9:15 PM

I do wish streaming worked on my computer! I'm enjoying reading the articles and seeing the photos, but I would enjoy seeing the games much more, sigh.

I grew up with soccer in South America, and played it so often myself (street soccer; barefoot), that the callouses didn't completely go away for almost five years after returning to the States.

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orggreg Kate June 20 2014 at 10:16 PM

true, - but there is business in everything especially in media.

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soccer_sucks June 20 2014 at 9:57 PM

God when will this STUPID THING BE OVER

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orggreg soccer_sucks June 20 2014 at 10:10 PM

WTF dude I'm seen you stupid comments OVER and OVER . No one force you to watch anything so get lost.

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soccer_sucks orggreg June 20 2014 at 11:32 PM

Im am sick and tired of seeing this junk about soccer all over AOL

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luigi1947 soccer_sucks June 21 2014 at 11:06 AM

do you have to pollute every page with your stupid comment over and over and over again?????/

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metcet June 21 2014 at 1:53 AM

no wonder this country is in the horrible shape it is, no tolerance for anything, why make such hateful comments about soccer, or politics, or religion, etc., if someone don't think or believe the way these intolerant people do, they insult you as if you had rape their daughter and if they could, I'm sure they would probably kill you, and these are the same people that talk about how "those countries", meaning Irak, Afghanistan, etc, are so backwards and barbaric but these intolerant people are worse those foreigners are, you "hateful people" are no better than the KKK or terrorists. You need to learn to respect people, respect what they like, their opinios, we can not all believe what you believe or like what you like, we are the "United States" of America, we suppose to have freedom to like or dislike things or watch any sport we like, if you don't like soccer, don't watch. You hateful people need to learn to be more tolerant so we can once again be a good example to the world.

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ghislaine June 21 2014 at 10:55 AM

For my poor "soccer_sucks", please be aware that soccer as it is called in the US and football elsewhere in the world, is the most watched sports game in the world! 50 years ago, while being driven through the jungle of West Africa, in the middle of nowhere, I saw, to my amazement the name Pele' scribbled in big on a piece of tin. "How on earth?" was my reaction then...
It is a world phenomenon and it brings so many people from so many places together. This is the magic of "futbol". I am not so much into sports game but this is truly exciting.

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luigi1947 ghislaine June 21 2014 at 11:04 AM

please don't waste your time on this moron

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Jay June 21 2014 at 9:08 AM

A race question and not a racist one............Since when did so many of these countries get so many black players when blacks are not indigious to those countries? Heck it wasnt too long ago when fans would just throw bananas at them......they still do in many cases. I guess it like always is a money thing.

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