Shaqiri snatches last-gasp win for Swiss over Serbia

Saturday, 2018-06-23 07:52:39
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Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri scores their second goal.
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Switzerland hit back with a thunderous strike by Granit Xhaka and a last-minute breakaway goal by Xherdan Shaqiri to claim a famous 2-1 win over Serbia on Friday in a swashbuckling World Cup Group E match tinged with Balkan rivalry.

The Swiss looked in danger of being over-run when Serbia went ahead with an Aleksandar Mitrovic header after five minutes to the delight of their fervent supporters at the Kaliningrad stadium.

Xhaka silenced the Serbian contingent in the 52nd minute, however, when he rifled home a loose ball in spectacular style from 25 meters before Shaqiri ran onto a through ball and finished with aplomb to win the game at the death.

There was also controversy in the 65th minute when Mitrovic appeared to be held down as he went for a cross but the referee waved play on and there was no video review.

The result left Brazil, 2-0 winners over Costa Rica, top with four points, ahead of Switzerland on goal difference with Serbia on three.

Serbia must beat Brazil in their final game to qualify without relying on the result of the Swiss game against Costa Rica, who are eliminated after losing their first two games.

Serbia made a flying start and Mitrovic forced Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer into an early save with a close-range header.

Sommer was powerless, however, in the fifth minute when Nemanja Matic won the ball and found Dusan Tadic, whose cross was met with a soaring header from Mitrovic.

With Mitrovic proving a handful for the Swiss defense, Serbia threatened to over-run their opponents and missed another chance when a corner flew across the face of goal and Dusko Tosic just failed to make contact.

Switzerland came right back into the game seven minutes after halftime thanks to Xhaka’s fulminating strike after a rebound fell nicely into his path.

Xhaka was almost upstaged by Shaqiri who clipped the crossbar with a curling, dipping shot from the unlikeliest of angles and the match turned into a pulsating end-to-end affair which was brilliantly settled by Shaqiri.

Switzerland cleared a Serbia attack and a through pass sent the diminutive forward scuttling away before he slotted the ball neatly into the far corner.

Reuters