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Les Bleus batter Swiss

Jul 10, 2014 - 1:18 AM Salvador, Brazil ( - France came out on top at the Arena Fonte Nova on Friday, taking sole possession of first place in Group E with a 5-2 thrashing of Switzerland.

The French were in cruise control as goals from Olivier Giroud, Blaise Matuidi, Mathieu Valbuena, Karim Benzema and Moussa Sissoko put the team in a comfortable position.

Switzerland managed to pull two goals back in the final nine minutes as Blerim Dzemaili and Granit Xhaka struck to alleviate the blow to the nation's goal differential, salvaging some hope for Ottmar Hitzfeld's men in their group finale against Honduras on Wednesday.

"I'm obviously very disappointed," Hitzfeld said after the match. "It was an extremely tough 90 minutes for us. We weren't able to demonstrate our potential. We started fairly well, but the second goal really hit us hard, and it was difficult to come back from that. We had to push forward and got caught out by their counter-attacks. The players finally reacted with those two goals, but it was too little, too late. We are still hopeful of qualifying, though."

France, in good stead to finish atop Group E, will wrap up the group stage against Ecuador at the Maracana on Wednesday.

The Swiss were up against it from the start as Hitzfeld was forced to alter his defense just nine minutes into the match when Steve von Bergen came up bloodied from a header contested by Giroud.

Philippe Senderos entered the game and France had a field day.

The opener came in the 17th minute when Giroud headed a corner kick from Valbuena just out of the reach of goalkeeper Diego Benaglio and into the back of the net.

Les Bleus doubled their advantage just one minute later when Benzema pounced on Valon Behrami's errant pass and slipped a through ball in for Matuidi, who fired a shot past Benaglio at a gaping near post.

Xhaka thought he had pulled one back for Switzerland in the 27th minute when he turned in a clearance played back into the box, but the Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder was ruled offside and the goal was disallowed.

Switzerland came close three minutes later when Xherdan Shaqiri lashed a rebound toward the back post, but the Bayern Munich man's shot trickled just wide of the far post and out of range for the approaching Haris Seferovic.

France had a tremendous chance to blow the match wide open just one minute later when Johan Djourou put in a needless challenge on Benzema in the box, tripping the Real Madrid striker as he approached the end line, but Benaglio stopped Benzema on the ensuing penalty while Yohan Cabaye's shot on the rebound came back off the crossbar to see the Swiss escape the danger.

But the miss proved to be inconsequential as the French added to their lead five minutes before halftime behind a brilliant counter that saw Giroud break free on the left flank and slide a perfect ball across goal for Valbuena to bury with a first-time effort.

France continued to dominate on the other side of the interval, scoring twice in the span of six minutes to build up a five-goal lead.

Benzema made amends for the penalty miss earlier in the game by latching on to Paul Pogba's brilliant pass in the 67th minute and firing a shot past Benaglio.

Sissoko tacked on another goal for France in the 73rd by taking Benzema's pass and slotting a shot just inside Benaglio's far post.

Switzerland managed to pull one back nine minutes from time when Dzemaili uncorked a free kick that squirted through the French wall and trickled past diving goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

Xhaka tacked on another consolation goal for the Swiss in the 87th when he took a brilliant chip from Gokhan Inler and whipped a first-time volley past Lloris at the near post.