What's buzzing:

Shaqiri's hat trick puts Swiss into 2nd round

AP - Sports
Shaqiri's hat trick puts Swiss into 2nd round
.

View gallery

Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri scores his team's second goal during the group E World Cup soccer …

MANAUS, Brazil (AP) -- Xherdan Shaqiri's hat trick put Switzerland into the second round of the World Cup, and kept coach Ottmar Hitzfeld gainfully employed for at least a few more days.

Shaqiri scored a pair of first-half goals and added another in the second Wednesday to give Switzerland a 3-0 victory over Honduras, a result that put the Swiss in second place in Group E behind France.

''We knew that we were going to show great football today,'' said Shaqiri, a Bayern Munich winger. ''For us, this has been really a dream to be in the World Cup, small Switzerland in the World Cup.''

The small Swiss will next face the not-so-small Lionel Messi and Argentina on Tuesday in Sao Paulo in what could be Hitzfeld's final match. The German veteran, a two-time Champions League winner as a coach, has said this tournament will be his last.

''We are really anxious for that. We also know that we are not the favorites for the match, but we are going to try for victory,'' Shaqiri said. ''Getting to the round of 16, everything is possible. You never know.''

Shaqiri scored his first goal in the sixth minute, dribbling into a crowd of defenders and curling a shot into the net off the underside of the crossbar. In the 31st, he collected a pass from Josip Drmic after a defensive error and easily beat Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares.

Shaqiri completed his hat trick in the 71st. Drmic did well to beat Honduras defender Victor Bernardez on the left and pass to a charging Shaqiri, who one-timed his shot past a diving Valladares.

In the other Group E game, France held Ecuador to a 0-0 draw.

The match at the Arena da Amazonia was the fourth and final game to be played in the Brazilian rainforest, and was the second to have an official cooling break because of the stifling heat and humidity.

According to FIFA, it was 26 degrees C (79 degrees F) with the humidity at 88 percent when the match started. Referee Nestor Pitana of Argentina made the decision to stop the match in the 39th, and the break lasted for about a minute. There was also an official break in the first half of the United States-Portugal match on Sunday.

After three 6 p.m. starts at the Arena da Amazonia, Wednesday's match started at 4 p.m. But a noontime thunderstorm combined with overcast skies and a slight breeze cooled the temperature a bit after several days of sunny skies and oppressive heat.

''Toward the end things were getting tougher, but we managed to deal with this,'' Hitzfeld said. ''We ran for the ball.''

The extreme weather had been something Honduras was looking forward to. The Central American country has a similar climate, and they often play qualifiers under the same circumstances in an effort to gain an advantage over opposing teams.

On Wednesday, Honduras struggled to create much on the attacking end, but did manage several decent attempts in the second half. The team's best chance came in the 52nd minute when striker Jerry Bengtson beat Switzerland goalkeeper Diego Benaglio but had his shot cleared off the line by defender Ricardo Rodriguez.

A few minutes later, Honduras screamed for a penalty after substitute Jerry Palacios went down in the area with Switzerland defender Johan Djourou on his back, but Pitana decided otherwise.

''The second half was very good. We had three or four chances to score, but to score a goal is a different story,'' said Honduras coach Luis Fernando Suarez, who said he would not continue as coach of the national team. ''In a sense, we disappointed our nation.''

Switzerland and Honduras played each other at the World Cup in South Africa exactly four years ago, on June 25, 2010, but that match ended in a 0-0 draw and both teams were eliminated.

This time, the Swiss move on and Hitzfeld has plenty more work to do against Argentina.

''(It's) going to be a match that we have nothing to lose. We have a lot to gain,'' Hitzfeld said. ''We do have a chance, even against Argentina.''

---

Lineups:

Honduras: Noel Valladares; Brayan Beckeles, Victor Bernardez, Maynor Figueroa, Juan Carlos Garcia; Oscar Boniek Garcia (Andy Najar, 77), Jorge Claros, Wilson Palacios, Roger Espinoza (Marvin Chavez, 46); Carlo Costly (Jerry Palacios, 40), Jerry Bengtson.

Switzerland: Diego Benaglio; Stephan Lichtsteiner, Johan Djourou, Fabian Schaer, Ricardo Rodriguez; Valon Behrami, Gokhan Inler, Xherdan Shaqiri (Blerim Dzemaili, 87), Granit Xhaka (Michael Lang, 77), Admir Mehmedi; Josip Drmic (Haris Seferovic, 73).

View Comments (6)
  • Cyprus group claims responsibility for 2 referee bombings

    A new group has emerged in Cyprus to claim responsibility for two of five bomb attacks targeting soccer referees in the past year, police said Thursday. Police spokesman Andreas Angelides told The Associated Press that investigators were examining … More »

    AP - Sports - 23 minutes ago
  • Chelsea can sense they are almost there

    Chelsea can sense they are almost there

    By Tony Jimenez LONDON (Reuters) - The late American crooner Andy Williams once sang about being 'almost there' and about being close to a 'paradise so rare' and that is how Chelsea must have felt after their 1-0 victory at West Ham United. … More »

    Reuters - 40 minutes ago
  • Dynamo to face Everton with partial-closure of stadium

    Dynamo Kiev will host Everton in Europa League round of 16 second leg with the partial closure of Olympiysky stadium in Kiev on March 19 after being punished by UEFA for crowd troubles. The Ukrainian club was charged by UEFA over a pitch invasion … More »

    Reuters - 43 minutes ago
  • United vs Arsenal promises another FA Cup blockbuster

    United vs Arsenal promises another FA Cup blockbuster

    By Justin Palmer LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester United and Arsenal have served up some classic FA Cup encounters going back to their first 109 years ago and Monday's quarter-final under the Old Trafford floodlights promises another special occasion. … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 9 minutes ago
  • Japan look at Halilhodzic to revive fortunes

    (Reuters) - After the brief and unsettling reign of Javier Aguirre, the Japanese Football Association are preparing to gamble again by opting for the volatile Vahid Halilhodzic as their new head coach. Despite walking out on his last two jobs, JFA … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 44 minutes ago