Sunday 18 November 2018

Kolarov steps up to seal Serbian triumph with screamer

Serbia 1 Costa Rica 0

Serbia's Aleksandar Kolarov is swarmed by team mates after scoring their winning goal. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Serbia's Aleksandar Kolarov is swarmed by team mates after scoring their winning goal. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Aleksandar Kolarov was confident he could make the difference as he lined up what proved to be Serbia's winning strike in their World Cup opener.

The former Manchester City defender, scored a stunning free-kick yesterday as Serbia saw off Costa Rica in Samara.

Kolarov's 56th-minute effort rewarded Serbia for their overall quality, although Costa Rica were left to rue a number of missed opportunities in the first-half.

Kolarov, who now plays for Roma, said: "The free-kick came in a difficult moment in the match and I knew I could step up and change things, and that's exactly what I did."

Coach Mladen Krstajic was pleased with the mentality of his players, who were strong in possession and continually driven forward by the impressive Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

"My players had the right attitude and approach - unity," said Krstajic. "We had to be a compact unit in both defence and attack and that's most important.

Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas is unable to reach Aleksandar Kolarov freekick. Photo: REUTERS/Michael Dalder
Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas is unable to reach Aleksandar Kolarov freekick. Photo: REUTERS/Michael Dalder

"I don't deal with statistics, I don't care what happened in the past - what's most important for me is that we played as a team and we were focused. We have to be planted firmly on the ground and continue as a team."

Costa Rica reached the quarter-finals in 2014, but emulating that feat now looks a tall order with further group games against Brazil and Switzerland to come.

Coach Oscar Ramirez is not ready to give up the fight yet, however.

He said: "We play against the second and sixth-placed teams in the FIFA rankings. It's going to be difficult, but I just told my team, 'this isn't over'."

Serbia's Sergej Milinkovic-Savic attempts an overhead kick. Photo: REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Serbia's Sergej Milinkovic-Savic attempts an overhead kick. Photo: REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Ramirez admitted his side should have made more of their chances.

"I think it was a tight match," he said. "We should have capitalised on our opportunities like they did.

"We had our tactical plan in place and, with the subs, we tried to attack them on the wings. We tried to execute our plan but they managed to score on a set-piece. What can you do?"

Serbia's Aleksandar Mitrovic looks on as his shot is pushed wide by Keylor Navas. Photo: REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Serbia's Aleksandar Mitrovic looks on as his shot is pushed wide by Keylor Navas. Photo: REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Costa Rica's Cristian Gamboa looks dejected after the match. Photo: REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Costa Rica's Cristian Gamboa looks dejected after the match. Photo: REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Irish Independent

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