World Cup 2014: Honduras 0-3 Switzerland
Honduras 0-3 Switzerland: Stunning Shaqiri hat-trick seals last-16 spot
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Xherdan Shaqiri struck a superb hat-trick as Switzerland secured a place in the World Cup knockout rounds with a 3-0 win over Honduras on Wednesday.
He may not be a regular starter at Bayern Munich, but the young winger remains the focal point of a Swiss side that have established themselves as an emerging force.
And the 22-year-old rose to the occasion when it mattered on Wednesday, his tour de force securing a win that meant Switzerland progressed from Group E behind France, who drew 0-0 with Ecuador to ensure the South American nation crashed out.
With his side smarting from a 5-2 drubbing at the hands of France last Friday, Shaqiri settled any nerves when he scored a sixth-minute thunderbolt before sliding home a second before half-time.
He then capped his impressive display with a third in the 71st minute, silencing critics of his recent performances and setting up a mouthwatering clash with Argentina next Tuesday.
In stark contrast, Honduras suffered the ignominy of being eliminated without a single point to their name.
Determined to right the wrongs of their France nightmare, Switzerland - who brought Fabian Schar into their bruised defence in place of Philippe Senderos - came flying out of the blocks as Shaqiri had a goal-bound effort blocked.
His first World Cup goal would come soon after, though, and it was worth the wait.
After cutting inside from the right wing, the lively Shaqiri unleashed a powerful, left-footed effort into the top corner of the net from the edge of the penalty area.
Shaqiri's one-man show continued for much of the opening exchanges, epitomised when he fired just wide midway through the first half.
Honduras started to offer an attacking threat and their verve showed up some nerves in the Switzerland backline, especially from set-pieces.
Such trepidation almost brought about an equaliser when Brayan Beckeles capitalised on the Swiss' inability to clear a corner by volleying just wide on the swivel.
But Shaqiri showed his class once again in the 31st minute when Victor Bernardez's failure to intercept a searching ball freed Josip Drmic, who slipped a pass inside for the 22-year-old to slide the ball home.
Determined to not go out with a whimper, Honduras began strongly after the break with Ricardo Rodriguez required to make a sliding clearance off the line after Jerry Bengtson had chipped the onrushing Diego Benaglio.
Shaqiri was on hand to show another flash of Switzerland’s threat at the other end, only to be denied by Noel Valladares – who was quickly off his line to keep out his effort.
Honduras continued to battle away and were left feeling aggrieved as a penalty appeal was turned down when Johnny Palacios went down under a challenge from Johan Djourou.
Any disgruntlement quickly turned to dejection, however, when Shaqiri completed his treble.
Drmic was again the provider, racing on to Rodriguez's searching long ball before jinking past Bernardez and sliding across a fine delivery that left Shaqiri with the simplest of tap-ins.
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