Shaqiri stuns Serbia to give Swiss hope

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  • witzerland move second in Group E after beating Serbia
  • A win would have taken the Serbians through to the Round of 16

Knowing that victory over Switzerland would have taken them into the last 16, Serbia made a fast start to the match. After causing Yann Sommer problems with his first header of the night, Aleksandar Mitrovic made no mistake with his second to put his side ahead with five minutes gone.

Having done the hardest part, the Serbians wanted more. Driven on by Dusan Tadic, who was in inspired form down the right flank, they strove to extend their lead. The Swiss hung in, patiently putting moves together but without genuinely threatening. Blerim Dzemaili had their best chance half an hour in, forcing Serbia keeper Vladimir Stojkovic to push the ball clear.

Rejuvenated after the break, the Swiss took just seven minutes to pull level, thanks to Granit Xhaka’s sublime drive from outside the box. The angle of post and bar then denied Xherdan Shaqiri, though the diminutive Swiss forward would have the last laugh. Sprinting clear of the Serbian defence as injury time approached, Shaqiri planted the ball beneath the advancing Stojkovic to move his side into second place in the pool.

 

Team reporter analysis

It was an assignment that was every bit as tough as Serbia expected. While Mladen Krstajic’s side are unlikely ever to be outmuscled, they are not one of the quicker sides in the competition, a shortcoming that ultimately cost them the match. The Swiss exploited their lack of pace to perfection, not least the darting Shaqiri. There was, nevertheless, plenty for Serbia to be pleased about, with Mitrovic particularly impressive in the air. His performance will be just one of the reasons why they will go into their final group match against Brazil with hope.

The 2-1 win took a long time to materialise and was only secured in the closing stages, when Shaqiri pounced. The Serbians struggled all night long to contain the effervescent No23, whose goal was a just reward for his efforts. Up next for the Swiss are Costa Rica. It remains to be seen if coach Vladimir Petkovic will stick with the same 11 that has started both their matches so far, with Haris Seferovic having struggled in the first half here.

Budweiser Man of the Match
Sharp, fast, tireless and elusive, *Xherdan Shaqiri *proved more than a handful for the Serbia defence. After almost putting his side ahead with a curling strike that clipped the woodwork, the Swiss livewire scored the goal his performance deserved in the final minute of normal time.

The stat
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.

What’s next
Serbia-Brazil, 27 June, Moscow (Spartak Stadium)
Switzerland-Costa Rica, 27 June, Nizhny Novgorod

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