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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 23 May, 2018


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FRANCE MAY NOT have been mathematically guaranteed their spot in the round of 16 at this year’s World Cup but we’d have eaten our berets if they didn’t top the group. Ecuador just had to match or better Switzerland’s result to join them and we’d all the action from Group E.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the game. E-mail, tweet @thescore_iepost a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

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Hello and welcome to this evening’s liveblog.

Here’s how Group E currently stands:

Source: FIFA

And this is what each team needs to do to escape the group:

France: A draw will secure qualification at the top of the group. They need to lose by a mountain of goals if they are not to qualify.

Ecuador: Must match or better Switzerland’s result. If they beat France by six goals, they’ll win the group.

Switzerland: Must better Ecuador’s result to qualify in second.

Honduras: Must beat Switzerland, hope Ecuador lose and have a massive turnaround in goal difference to advance.

And here are tonight’s teams:

France: Lloris (c), Sakho, Benzema, Griezmann, Matuidi, Sagna, Digne, Sissoko, Pogba, Koscielny, Schneiderlin

Ecuador: Dominguez, Guagua, Erazo, Paredes, Noboa, Montero, W Ayovi, E Valencia, Minda, Arroyo (c), A Valencia.


Honduras: Valladares (c), Figueroa, Bernardez, J Garcia, W Palacios, Bengtson, Costly, B Garcia, Espinoza, Claros, Beckeles.

Switzerland: Benaglio, Lichtsteiner, Inler (c), Xhaka, Behrami, Rodriguez, Mehmedi, Drmic, Djourou, Schaer, Shaqiri

I think whatever happens, we all know France win the World Cup of anthems. As for the football, we want your predictions. Who is going to advance from Group E along with France?

Kick-off: And, thanks to the magic of FIFA and radio, we’re under way in both games.

2 mins: Switzerland really should have taken the lead, Drmic with a great ball in but Shaqiri couldn’t get on the end of it.

4 mins: Very early stages but Ecuador look like they’re set up to beat France on the counter-attack. With all the changes Didier Deschamps has made, you’d have hoped they might be more attacking.

GOAL! – Switzerland 1-0 Honduras (5′ Shaqiri): That’s a cracking goal from Xherdan Shaqiri to open the scoring. It’s put his side in prime position to qualify now.

They don’t call him the Alpine Messi for nothing!

8 mins: Honduras have their first chance but Juan Carlos Garcia’s effort goes harmlessly wide.

10 mins: First attempt on goal from France but Griezmann pulls his shot wide. Poor effort really.

12 mins: Brian Kerr currently discussing the possibility of a player crossing the ball to himself before heading it. Roy of the Rovers did it apparently. We must have missed that edition.

14 mins: Very little to report from the France game so far. Paul Pogba still has a ridiculous haircut though.

15 mins: Sissoko gets France’s first shot on target but Dominguez was never going to be beaten on his near post.

Here’s that Shaqiri goal. Woof!

22 mins: Honduras look a bit more threatening in the last few minutes without creating anything like a clear-cut opportunity.

25 mins: Almost forgot Benzema was playing for France. He’s been a shadow of the player he was in the opening two games so far. Ducked under a header just there but maybe the Real striker was put off by the flapping of Dominguez in the Ecuador goal.

27 mins: Lovely turn and run by Inler puts Switzerland in a good position but there’s no end product. He cut through the Honduras defence like the knife his county is named after there.*

*I know.

GOAL! – Switzerland 2-0 Honduras (30′ Shaqiri): They’re not the sixth ranked team in the world for nothing as Shaqiri bags his second. It’s a much simpler finish than the first but just as important.

Here’s Shaqiri’s second:

34 mins: They’ve very little to play for, of course, and have made a host of changes but France look far from world beaters in their game with Ecuador.

37 mins: Ecuador ‘keeper made Pogba’s effort look much more threatening that it was there. His side deal with the second corner much easier.

40 mins: Costly substitution for Honduras there. Carlos Costly. On for Jerry Palacios.

45 mins: Honduras look like a team who should be out of the World Cup already. Inability to keep possession, no imagination and lots of silly fouls. That’s all they’ve offered.

Half-time -

Both referees have blown up for the end of the opening period. Switzerland look the best of the four teams in action but a lot of that could be down to how poor their opposition is.

France, well it’s an understated performance from les bleus (or blancs tonight) so far.

France 0-0 Ecuador

Switzerland 2-0 Honduras 

This has nothing to do with either of tonight’s games, but it is Bruce Springsteen discussing a certain Uruguayan striker:

Source: TMZ/YouTube

And the second halves get under way.

46 mins: Brilliant save by Dominguez denies Griezmann at the near post. That’s by far France’s best piece of play in the entire game.

RED CARD! – 47 mins: Awful, awful challenge from Antonio Valencia has Digne in agony. The Manchester United player rightly shown a red card.

52 mins: Honduras coming back into this game and only for a goal-line clearance would have had a goal back. Ricardo Rodríguez with the last-gasp defending.

Here’s the tackle that earned Valencia a red card and reduced Ecuador to 10 men:

57 mins: I’d honestly never have expected Switzerland and Honduras to be more entertaining that France v Ecuador. It’s almost like Ecuador don’t realise they need to win now to get through.

Hardly a case of Alan Ball-itis?

61 mins: Honduras denied a stonewall penalty. A clear push on Jerry Palacios by Djourou not spotted by the referee.

64 mins: Brian Kerr explaining what ‘bunty’ means. He’s the best co-commentator RTÉ have right?

68 mins: Another chance for Honduras but Switzerland do just enough. More holes in their defence than the cheese after which their country is named at the moment.*

*I’ll keep going with this ‘joke’.

GOAL! – Switzerland 1-0 Honduras (70′ Shaqiri): That’s the hat-trick for the Alpine Messi after great work by Drmic on the counter-attack.

Could Shaqiri be a late contender for top-scorer?

76 mins: France still underwhelming as they are doing just enough to ensure they top the group. I wonder if this will temper some of the expectations that have built up around Didier Deschamps’ men?

79 mins: Brilliant save by Benaglio from Bengston ensures he keeps his clean sheet.

81 mins: Lloris – captaining France this evening – with a fine save of his own in the other game to deny Ecuador a glimmer of hope.

83 mins: Benzema misses a great chance from France from 10-yards out. Really should have opened the scoring there.

88 mins: Reminder, Ecuador will need to score twice to have any chance of progression. On the evidence of the opening 87 minutes, I’m more likely to get a call up from Martin O’Neill.

90 + 1 mins: Switzerland will qualify despite shipping give goals to France in their second game. Their reward? A game with Argentina.

That could be a shoot-out – not the penalty kind –  with Messi and Shaqiri in this form.

Full-time -

And that was a bit of a damp squib as far as Ecuador are concerned. One decent effort but never came close to scoring the goals they needed to get through. France, well they were workmanlike and will need to step up a gear to get by Nigeria in the round of 16.

France 0-0 Ecuador

Switzerland 3-0 Honduras 

And that’s it from me. I’m off to put at least €2.50 on Shaqiri to finish with the golden boot. Argentina’s defence will surely give him lots of opportunities?

As always, thanks for joining us!

About the author:

Steve O'Rourke


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