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France turn on the style

Olivier Giroud celebrates after scoring France’s first goal against Switzerland, in Salvador, on Friday

Salvador: Free-flowing France blew away in-form Switzerland with a three-goal first-half barrage en route to a thumping 5-2 World Cup Group E win on Friday that virtually assures them of qualification for the second round.

France blasted two goals within 66 seconds as Olivier Giroud headed them into the lead after 17 minutes and Blaise Matuidi added a second almost straight from the restart, while Mathieu Valbuena got a breakaway third late in the half after Swiss ’keeper Diego Benaglio had earlier saved a Karim Benzema penalty.

Benzema added the fourth and his third of the tournament in the 67th minute and Moussa Sissoko came off the bench to complete the rout six minutes later before Blerim Dzemaili’s free kick and a smart volley by Granit Xhaka made things look better for the Swiss.

France have six points and a goal difference of plus-six and look well-placed to advance after going out in the group stage four years ago when they finished bottom.

Switzerland, who had lost only once in the last two years and are sixth in Fifa’s world rankings, have three points

Coach Didier Deschamps named striker Giroud in the starting line-up to bolster an attacking line-up which was spearheaded by an in-form Benzema. The reshuffle meant that Antoine Griezmann, who started on the left with Benzema up front in Sunday’s 3-0 victory over Honduras, dropped to the bench, with Deschamps opting to utilise Giroud’s height and power.

In a second change from Sunday’s victory, Moussa Sissoko replaced Pogba in central midfield. For Switzerland, Admir Mehmedi and Haris Seferovic, who both came off the bench to score in their opening 2-1 win over Ecuador, started in place of Josip Drmic and Valentin Stocker.

The French team looked the stronger of the two sides from the start as Karim Benzema unleashed a curling effort inside the opening 10 minutes, narrowly missing the target.