World Cup 2018: Xherdan Shaqiri scores late winner as Switzerland humble Serbia
Xherdan Shaqiri netted a 90th minute winner as Switzerland retracked their way back into contention for a knockout berth, defeating Serbia 2-1 at the Kaliningrad Stadium on Friday.
Serbia after their 1-0 victory over Costa Rica needed another win to secure their entry into the last 16 and going by the way they started — taking the lead as early as the fifth minute — many would have thought they could get it. But Switzerland, put in a hole digged their way back, when seven minutes into the second-half Granit Xhaka scored a pile-driver with a ball that swirled the winds before settling here.
Switzerland had levelled and were still it the game, because Arsenal midfielder Xhaka had broken the Serbian resistance with one peach of a shot. After Shaqiri’s attempt from outside the box was blocked, the ball fell for Xhaka who took a few steps ahead before ramming the net with a first-time finish.
Their attacks continued with the ‘White Eagles‘ earning some moments of their own, none of which were better than Shaqiri’s 90th minute breakaway. Breaking down a Serbian attack and after winning the back the ball, Mario Gavranović played a delicious through ball to Shaqiri, with the Stoke City wide-man running past a huffing and puffing Duško Tošić before placing the ball past goalkeeper Vladimir Stojković as the ‘Rossocrociatis‘ jumped in delight.
The game however was Serbia’s to lose, who after going ahead through a Aleksandar Mitrović header as early as the fifth minute came close on a number of occasions in the first-half.
Most of them were on the plate for Mitrovic to score but the Newcastle United striker failed to do so first missing a glancing header in the 14th minute, before trying an audacious overhead kick three minutes later. Then they came close once again in the 44th minute from a corner when the ball from Tošić’s header hit Nemanja Matic on the knee before running away for a corner.
Switzerland meanwhile were subdued in the first-half coming with just one golden chance to equalise, when Steven Zuber found Blerim Džemaili with a delicate threaded pass, which the Bologna midfielder failed to place past Stojković.
The victory however takes Switzerland on four points, the same as Brazil while Serbia remain on three. The Swiss next face Costa Rica on June 27, while the Serbs take on a confident Brazil, who tasted their first victory earlier today.