SALVADOR (Brazil), June 21 (IANS): Paced by Karim Benzema's one goal and two assists, France have stormed past Switzerland 5-2 in a second round Group E match and almost clinched a berth in the knockout stage of 2014 World Cup here.
"This is a very great game for us. The Swiss team is very good. But we have really put a lot of pressure on the midfield and I think that our attacks were very quick," said Didier Deschamps, coach of France, Friday.
"We had a good result but the two goals we conceded suggest the Swiss team also obtain great quality," he added.
"I like this game I enjoyed it a lot. As I always say, when we get a victory such as this one, we need to thank the effort of all the rest of the team. We will try to repeat this performance in the match against Ecuador," said Benzema, who was named man of the match.
Coaches of both teams made two changes in their starting line-up. Admir Mehmedi and Haris Seferovic who scored as substitute in Switzerland's last-gasp 2-1 victory against Ecuador both started while Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud and Newcastle United midfielder Moussa Sissoko came in for Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba in the "Les Bleus".
Benzema spoke highly of his attacking partner Giroud who scored the first goal of the match.
"He really played an extraordinary game. He created a lot of opportunities," Benzema said.
The Swiss were forced to make an early substitute eight minutes into the match as their center back Steve von Bergen got his face kicked by Giroud. The 31-year-old walked out of the field with blood on his face.
Swizterland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said this early replacement really had an impact on his team.
"Philippe Senderos has to come direct from the bench. It is hard for him and for all the defence. This cannot be an excuse for us. But this had an impact on this game," the 65-year-old German said.
The match remained balanced till the 17th minute. Giroud leapt high and hammered home with a corner from Mathieu Valbuena. Switzerland's goalie Diego Benaglio managed to touch the ball but failed to palm it away.
The match resumed with Swiss kicking off in the middle but they were immediately dispossessed by French striker Benzema, whose through pass set up for a onrushing Blaise Matuidi. The PSG midfielder sent it home to the low corner with a left-foot one touch shot.
Benzema could have further widened the gap but his penalty shot 32 minutes into the game was denied by Benaglio. And Yohan Cabaye's shot off the rebound ball hit the crossbar.
Eight minutes later, Giroud registered an assist under his name following a fast counter attack as his low cross found Valbuena in the far post and the Marseilles midfielder made it 3-0 with a simple tap-in before the break.
"To be able to reach the half time with a 3-0 advantage is very important," Deschamps said.
"Because if the score is 2-0, the other team can still turn things on, but 3-0 is an important difference."
Switzerland strengthened their attack trying to open the scoring in the second half but also provided more counter-attack chances for "Les Bleus".
Benzema volleyed home a pass from Paul Pogba in the edge of the inner area in the 67th minute. And six minutes later, the Real Madrid striker fed a fine pass to Sissoko, who made it 5-0 with his right foot.
The Swiss found their consolation goal in the 81st minute. Napoli midfielder Blerim Dzemaili fired a long range low free-kick which went through the three-man wall and beat French captain Hugo Lloris. And the goal feast did not end there. A failed offside trap of France saw Swiss forward Granit Xhaka left wide open in the box and his volley shot narrowed the gap to 5-2.
At the end of the three-minute injury time, Benzema scored another goal outside the box but Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers waved it away, suggesting the match had already ended before Benzema's shot.
"I did not hear the whistle so I shot and scored the goal. But I think the most important thing is the victory and the way it was obtained it," the striker said after the match.
Switzerland also had a goal annulled in the 27th minute when Granit Xhaka was caught off-side before slotting home following a corner from the left.
Les Bleus have now grabbed six points after two matches. If they did not lose to Ecuador with an unusual huge deficit in the final round they will qualify for the last 16.
After the match ended, a male French fan, half naked and painted in red and blue, invaded the pitch while the players were walking out. He hugged a few French players before he was brought down and carried out by the stewards.