SALVADOR, June 20 (Reuters) - 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, while Ecuador and Honduras are yet to get off the mark ahead of their meeting later on Friday. (Writing by Mitch Phillips, editing by Ossian Shine)