Switzerland beat Serbia 2-1 on Friday in their FIFA World Cup group E preliminary round football (soccer) match in Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad, Russia.
In the tournament’s first come-from-behind victory, Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri scored in Switzerland’s 2-1 victory after Aleksandar Mitrovic opened scoring for Serbia.
After two missed chances in the opening match against Costa Rica, Aleksandar Mitrovic finds his mark with a classic power header in the 5th minute following a pinpoint Tadic cross. 1-0 Serbia.
Switzerland mounted pressure through Shaqiri straight after Serbia’s goal.
Midfielder Granit Xhaka pounced on a loose ball from a Switzerland breakaway to swerve home from outside the box in the 52nd minute 1-1.
Granit Xhaka is the third Swiss player to score at multiple World Cups, after Andre Abegglen (1934 and 1938) and Jackie Fatton (1950 and 1954).
Switzerland turned it around in the final minute of normal time. Shaqiri sprinted clear having been played onside at the halfway line and maintained his composure to clip the ball underneath the goalkeeper.
An absorbing game in Kaliningrad ends in dramatic fashion – Switzerland take all three points and leapfrog Serbia in Group E courtesy of Shaqiri’s late winner in the 90th minute. 2-1 Switzerland.
Xherdan Shaqiri has been directly involved in each of Switzerland’s last 5 World Cup goals – scoring a hat-trick in a 3-0 group stage win against Honduras in 2014 and providing the assist for Steven Zuber’s goal in their opening match of this year’s tournament.
The win puts Switzerland into second place in Group E with four points, the same as Brazil. The Swiss will advance to the round of 16 if they beat Costa Rica on Wednesday in Nizhny Novgorod. Serbia will face Brazil in Moscow at the same time.
“Of course we were disturbed by the Swiss equaliser. We were equal to them, maybe they had more possession, but at 1-1 we tried to go on the attack. We substituted a defensive midfielder for an attacking midfielder but unfortunately we conceded in the 90th minute on the break. This is football. We did not convert some of our chances. I believe the lads have given their all. From day one when we saw the draw and the group many thought that Brazil were favourites to win the group and the World Cup. We’re in a situation where we need a win against Brazil on the final matchday and we will focus and do whatever we can to try and win. Nothing is impossible in life.” Mladen Krstajic, Serbia coach said after the game.
“It was an interesting match to say the least. We had a roller-coaster ride here. Personally after the first goal, I was euphoric – it was an excellent way to score it. After the first half nobody would have believed that we could turn it around. There were negative and positive aspects here. Even though we were down in the first half we kept a level head. What is important is we have developed a winning mentality. Even if we are down we try to be positive and win each game. This has been displayed in our earlier matches, even against Brazil. We always find a reaction and this is a positive characteristic of our team” Vladimir Petkovic, Switzerland coach said.
“As far as our development is concerned, we’ve been demonstrating this for years and today we showed it again on the pitch. They were 1-0 up, and yet we rallied. These players play in top flight clubs all over Europe. They kept their cool. We turned the match around and that’s something we wouldn’t have achieved a couple of years ago.” Man of the match, Xherdan Shaqiri added.
Brazil face Serbia while Switzerland meet Costa Rica in the final round of matches on 27 June.
A total of 32 national football teams are participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, held in 11 cities across Russia between June 14 and July 15.
The teams were divided into eight groups, with four in each, and the top two from their relevant groups will proceed to the next round, known as the playoffs or the knockout stage, to keep vying for the much-coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy.
Russia is holding its first time ever edition of the FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a spectacular opening show at the Luzhniki Stadium on the night of June 14. The World Cup is being held at 12 arenas across 11 cities with the final set to be played at Luzhniki on July 15. The 11 host cities are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.