Honduras' Jerry Bengtson (white jersey) and Fabian Schar of Switzerland compete for the ball during their FIFA World Cup match at Arena Amazonia on June 25, 2014, in Manaus, Brazil. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
MANAUS, Brazil – Honduras’ run in the 2014 FIFA World Cup came to an end on Wednesday at the Arena Amazonia, where it fell 3-0 to Switzerland, courtesy of a three-goal performance by Xherdan Shaqiri.
The Swiss finished as runner-up to France in Group E and advanced to the round of 16, where it will face Argentina in Sao Paulo on July 1. The Hondurans were eliminated in the group stage for the third time in as many tries.
Playing under steamy Amazon conditions, Switzerland took the initiative from the outset, forcing veteran Honduran goalkeeper Noel Valladares into action just two minutes in to thwart Shaqiri from point-blank range.
Not to be denied again, Shaqiri provided the opener only three minutes later. The Bayern Munich standout collected a pass on the top-left edge of the 18-yard-box, skipped past a defender going towards the middle and let fly a stunning left-footed effort that curled its way into the far upper corner of Valladares’ goal.
Now firmly in control of the proceedings, the Swiss soon made it 2-0 on a counterattack in the 30th minute. Sparked by a splendid outlet pass by captain Gokhan İnler from deep within his own third, Josip Drmic collected the ball in acres of space and unselfishly passed for a darting Shaqiri to slot coolly past Valladares.
Down two goals late in the first half, the Catrachos -- who entered the match with a remote possibility of advancing -- began to find their rhythm. New England Revolution forward Jerry Bengston nearly halved the deficit with a 35th minute effort that went just over the crossbar.
In the second stanza, the Hondurans continued to get stronger and should have had a goal early on, when some intricate build-up play freed Bengston inside in the area. Rounding Swiss goalkeeper Diego Benaglio, he looked certain to score, but his rolling shot was cleared off the line.
After a Jerry Palacios penalty appeal was denied by Argentinian referee Nestor Pitana, the Central Americans almost found the back of the net off a scramble following a corner kick. As Wilson Palacios lurked, only another last-ditch clearance from the Swiss preserved the scoreline.
The final goal came on another counterattack. In the 70th minute, İnler again found Drmić in space. The talented 21-year-old found an unmarked Shaqiri in the center of the area, who put the finishing touches on a hat-trick as well as the game.