Shaqiri scores late winner as Switzerland beat Serbia

Alfred Finnbogason

Serbia won their opening contest Costa Rica with skipper Aleksandar Kolarov scoring from a free kick.

Serbia had chances to score more before halftime.

Shaqiri also played in boots marked with the flags of Switzerland and Kosovo - the breakaway region that is not recognized as independent by Serbia or Russian Federation.

On the other hand, Switzerland's last game against Brazil ended up in drew and it will be the first time since the end of the former Yugoslavia an independent Serbia face Swiss side. "They have qualities throughout the squad, excellent individuals".

Head coach Vladimir Petkovic could name the same side that drew 1-1 with Brazil, with Haris Seferovic continuing as a lone forward.

"We can't just play physically", he said.

All eyes will be on Juventus, Manchester United and Real Madrid target Sergej Milinkovic-Savic again after his dazzling display but it could be Aleksandar Mitrovic's time to shine.


And that resurgence continues to grow game-by-game, as Mitrovic has now scored 18 goals in 26 games for club and country in 2018.

9 - the number of World Cup matches Nati captain Stefan Lichtsteiner has now played for Switzerland, breaking the national record held by Charles Antenen since Chile 1962. "It's going to be a fierce match tomorrow".

Tensions have been building in Serbia ahead of the Switzerland match.

Serbia have based themselves in Kaliningrad - Russia's remote territory on the Baltic Sea - for the tournament and tens of thousands of their countrymen are expected to travel for the game.

Stretching the Serbians inadvertently led to the leveler, as a cross-field ball found Xherdan Shaqiri but, after seeing his shot blocked away, it fell to Granit Xhaka, who rifled the ball beyond Vladimir Stojković in the 52nd minute.

Xhaka struck the Swiss equalizer in the 52nd minute before Shaqiri scored a late victor when he broke free from the half-way line to slot past Serbian goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic.

Neither coach would be drawn on the issue Thursday, with Krstajic saying he is "not interested in politics".

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