The first two matches of World Cup Group E didn’t provide any shocks, unlike most other groups, as France and Switzerland won their games to put them in the top spots.
Switzerland may have been the group’s seeded team but looked inept in the first half. Ecuador took the lead on 22 minutes as Enner Valencia rose highest to head home a dangerous free kick. Switzerland managed to keep possession but fashioned little chances before half-time, and they went in a goal behind. Admir Mehmedi was brought on for the Swiss during the break and instantly made an impact by heading in a corner on 48 minutes. Switzerland grew in confidence and Ecuador began to tire, although they did threaten to go ahead again through counter-attacks. In injury time, though, Switzerland got the winner as Ricardo Rodriguez broke down the wing and crossed for Haris Sefarovic to knock in and earn the Swiss all three points.
France eased to a 3-0 win over Honduras with a solid performance against a physical opponent. France started on the front foot and never let up the pressure, and managed to win a penalty just before half time as Wilson Palacios took down Paul Pogba. Palacios was given a second booking and then a red card, while Karim Benzema blasted in the penalty. Just three minutes after half-time and France put the game beyond doubt as Karim Benzema’s shot hit the right post and deflected in off Honduras keeper Noel Valladeras. Goal-line technology helped in giving the goal, showing the ball was over the line as Valladeras scrambled to keep it out. Honduras were lucky to avoid more sendings off, as they made several fierce challenges but referee Sandro Ricci kept his cool. Benzema capped off a fine night for himself and his side by picking the ball up in the box and smashing it into the net to round off a 3-0 win.
France play Switzerland on Friday (8pm, ITV) with a win for either side likely not only to put them through but to secure a group win, avoiding a potential match-up with Argentina. Ecuador v Honduras takes place later that night (11pm, ITV) and the loser could be eliminated if the preceding game finishes in a draw. Ecuador will be most likely to get a result and threaten qualification, although Honduras will be looking for their first World Cup win.