SALVADOR, Brazil – France is striking at the World Cup again, this time in a way the fans back home will support.
Four years ago to the day, France’s players shamed the nation by going on strike at the last World Cup. On Friday, the team put on a striking attacking display, beating Switzerland 5-2 to take control of Group E and put itself in position to avoid a showdown with superstar Lionel Messi’s Argentina team in the next round.
“We were all magnificent tonight,” said goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, one of four holdovers from the shambles of France’s last World Cup. “We can’t let ourselves get flooded by emotion and must stay calm. But we’re going to savor this.”
Karim Benzema, Olivier Giroud and winger Mathieu Valbuena each scored one goal and created another to underline both the newfound spirit in this team and the lethal versatility in attack.
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“When you score five goals, it’s ecstasy,” Valbuena said.
France tops the group with six points, with Ecuador and the Swiss at three points each.
“It was a great night for us. We hurt them with our quick attacks and with the variety of our play,” France coach Didier Deschamps said.
Giroud and Blaise Matuidi scored a minute apart and Valbuena added another before halftime for a 3-0 lead.
CURITIBA, Brazil – Ecuador forward Enner Valencia scored twice in a 2-1 comeback victory over Honduras.
Ecuador moved into the second spot in Group E with three points — ahead of Switzerland on goal difference — with a match remaining against France.
Honduras took the lead in the 31st minute with its first World Cup goal in 32 years when Carlo Costly latched onto a long ball after a misjudgment from Ecuador defender Jorge Guagua. The goal ended a 511-minute drought that stretched back to the 1982 World Cup.
Valencia equalized three minutes later, and added the winner in the 65th minute.
• The world players’ union accused World Cup organizer FIFA of failing to protect Uruguay midfielder Alvaro Pereira after he played on in a 2-1 victory over England on Thursday after a hard blow to the head he said felt “like the lights went out.”
Union officials said FIFA’s protocol for assessing concussions “failed to protect” Pereira.
• Mexico coach Miguel Herrera has defended World Cup fans chanting a gay slur that is under investigation by FIFA.
Mexico fans shouting the slur as the rival team’s goalkeeper takes a goal kick is “not that bad,” Herrera said.
• Roy Hodgson has been asked by the English Football Association to remain as coach until 2016 despite the team being eliminated at the World Cup group stage for the first time since 1958.