Jun 27, 2014

    Shaqiri treble sends Swiss into last 16


    A RAMPANT Switzerland reached the World Cup knockout stage and will lock horns with Argentina in the last 16, after a superb Xherdan Shaqiri hat-trick gave them a 3-0 win over Honduras on Wednesday.

    The result in no way flattered the resilient Swiss, who bounced back from their 5-2 drubbing by France to finish behind them in Group E while third-placed Ecuador and Honduras were eliminated.

    It was a memorable match for Kosovo-born forward Shaqiri, who scored the 50th hat-trick in World Cup history and the second of this tournament after Germany's Thomas Mueller netted three against Portugal.

    "Whenever you reach the second round, it is a great motivation, and we are highly motivated," Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said at a news conference.

    "We are going to write history and we have already written history with the three goals today."

    Shaqiri linked up brilliantly with striker Josip Drmic, who set up two of the goals after he was preferred to Haris Seferovic in the starting line-up.

    The opener, however, was entirely of the 22-year-old's making, as he shook off his marker and unleashed a thunderbolt into the top-left corner which left Honduras keeper Noel Valladares rooted to the spot.

    He made it 2-0 on the half-hour mark, steering the ball past Valladares after he was released by Drmic, who missed two chances in the closing stages of the first half, with Honduras constantly on the back foot.

    Spurred by Mexican waves on the terraces, Honduras threw men forward and were caught cold in the 71st minute, when Drmic's good work down the left flank presented Shaqiri with a simple finish from 8m.