A slight tactical move has helped spur Switzerland into the second round and Xherdan Shaqiri in his country’s history books after a 3-0 win against Honduras in Manaus.
Shaqiri was moved to a more center forward role this match by Head Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld. This move allowed the midfielder to complete the first Swiss hat-trick in a World Cup since 1954. He also added to the number of goals by Bayern Munich players in this World Cup to 11. This leads the tournament.
The 22-year-old Shaqiri opened the scoring for Switzerland in the 6th minute with a viral-video worthy goal. Shaqiri started at the top corner of the 18-yard box, taking the ball with his left across the field but dribbling away from goal while dragging an Honduran defender on the back of his shirt. The midfielder blistered a 25-yard shot to the far post, the ball slamming against the crossbar before hitting the back of the net.
Honduras, who needed a miracle to advance, did not lay dead despite the long odds. The game opened up as both teams sent players forward after the early goal, not necessarily creating chances but increasing the pace of the game and intensifying the tackles.
Shaqiri completed a quick Swiss counter in the 31st minute to double Switzerland’s lead. Josip Drmic received a 40-yard laser-beam of a pass from his defense and dribbled the ball to the outside of the box. He played an easy ball across the face of goal for Shaqiri to bury into the goal.
The second half had Honduras pushing even farther up to put themselves back in the game. Jerry Palacios almost pulled one back for Honduras in the 51st minute, his shot beating the Swiss goalkeeper Diego Benaglio but Ricardo Rodriguez was in behind clearing the ball off the line.
But Honduras’ pressure left them exposed for counter attacks and it would be Drmic and Shaqiri punishing them again in the 71st minute. Drmic took a ball along the box a slowed up play while Shaqiri made his way towards the box. With a few step-overs, Drmic beat his defender, dribbled into the box and found a wide open Shariqi who sent in a one-timer for the third and final goal of the game.
Both teams entered the match with dreams of advancing to the next round. Switzerland secured second place in group E with the win coupled with Ecuador’s nil-nil draw with group leader France. Honduras needed to win and flip a four goals combined with an Ecuador loss to advance.
Honduras will head home while Switzerland will get ready for Argentina in the second round. The two have faced each other six times with the Swiss unable to come away with a win.