Saturday 22 September 2018

Xherdan Shaqiri scores late winner as Switzerland stun Serbia

Switzerland move into second place in Group E, level on four points from two games with Brazil.

Xherdan Shaqiri celebrates his late winner (AP)
Xherdan Shaqiri celebrates his late winner (AP)

By Press Association Sport staff

Xherdan Shaqiri scored a 90th-minute winner as Switzerland came from behind to beat Serbia 2-1 in World Cup Group E.

The Swiss drew level in Kaliningrad in the 52nd minute when Shaqiri’s shot was blocked and Granit Xhaka blasted the loose ball into the net, cancelling out Aleksandar Mitrovic’s fifth-minute header.

Shaqiri, who sent a fine effort against the post shortly after the equaliser, then completed the turnaround as he finished off a counter-attack with a cool strike past Vladimir Stojkovic.

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Shaqiri scored with a cool finish past Vladimir Stojkovic (Antonio Calanni/AP).

Serbia felt aggrieved that they had not been awarded a penalty when Mitrovic was caught in a tangle with Stephan Lichtsteiner and Fabian Schar in the 66th minute.

The result sees Switzerland move into second place in the group, level on four points from two games with Brazil.

Serbia are a point behind in third, with pointless fourth-placed Costa Rica eliminated after their 2-0 loss to the Brazilians earlier on Friday.

The final round of fixtures sees Serbia play Brazil and Switzerland face Costa Rica.

Stoke winger Shaqiri and Arsenal midfielder Xhaka were among the players in the Swiss side with links to Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia 10 years ago.

Another, Valon Behrami, was fit to play five days on from limping off in the 1-1 draw with Brazil, with Switzerland boss Vladimir Petkovic naming an unchanged starting line-up.

Opposite number Mladen Krstajic’s first XI showed one alteration from the 1-0 win over Costa Rica as Filip Kostic came in for Adem Ljajic.

Serbia made a bright start, with Mitrovic to the fore, and moments after he had brought a fine save out of Yann Sommer with one header, the Newcastle striker, who impressed on loan at Fulham last season, scored with another as he connected with Dusan Tadic’s excellent cross.

Switzerland had a decent chance to level five minutes later but Blerim Dzemaili dragged a shot wide, and Serbia were soon applying more pressure as Mitrovic, twice, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic sent attempts off target.

Stojkovic did well to turn a Dzemaili effort behind on the half-hour mark, before Serbia finished the half the stronger once again, with Dusko Tosic completely missing the ball as he tried to head in a corner and Tadic then firing over.

Having possibly counted themselves lucky to only be a goal down, Switzerland then equalised in the early stages of the second half.

Six minutes after Mitrovic saw another headed effort go just over, Shaqiri’s shot bounced off Nikola Milenkovic and the ball came to Xhaka, who cracked it past Stojkovic.

Shaqiri then almost put his side in front as his wonderful left-footed curler, aimed for the top corner, hit the upright.

Mitrovic was then disbelieving as referee Felix Brych took no action following his tussle with Lichtsteiner and Schar.

And Mitrovic’s anguish increased late on as the Swiss broke forward, the ball was worked to Shaqiri and he slotted past Stojkovic.

Press Association

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