France and Ecuador played out a goalless draw, while a wonderful hat-trick from Xherdan Shaqiri provides qualification for Switzerland into the next round.
Ecuador needed a win in this game to have a chance of qualifying to the next round, Antonio Valencia’s dismissal in the second half ensured only a goalless draw for the South American side. Switzerland’s victory over Honduras in the other game meant, Ecuador finished third in Group E, while France and Switzerland set up clash against Nigeria and Argentina in the next round, respectively.
The fact that the game at Maracana ended goalless was a wonder in itself considering the number of chances both the teams created. Alexander Dominguez in Ecuador goal was the busier of the two goalkeepers and produced some magnificent saves to protect his clean sheet. Ecuador’s hope of pulling out a winner took a big blow in the second half when Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia received a straight red after an over the top challenge on French left back Lucas Digne. Playing with a numerical disadvantage, Ecuador failed to put enough pressure on the French defence in the second half to score the required goal.
The match between Honduras and Switzerland did have three goals though, and all over them were scored by Bayern Munich midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri.
Although mathematically Honduras did have a chance of qualifying into the next round with a win over Switzerland, and if Ecuador lost their match against France, but their poor goal difference made it a tough task to start with. But all hopes of an upset was laid to rest when Xherdan Shaqiri scored the opening goal with a thunderous strike from outside of the box. The Bayern midfielder cut inside on his left foot and found the top corner with unerring perfection.
That early goal set the tone for the match and Switzerland doubled their lead before half time as Shaqiri scored his second of the game. The goal came from a swift counter attack with Josep Drmic doing well to release Shaqiri through on goal.
The 22-year-old midfielder, who has been recently linked with a move to Liverpool, completed his hat-trick in the second half with another lovely finish. Drmic was once again the creator of that opportunity after showing some neat footwork inside the box.