Shaqiri snatches last-gasp win for Swiss over Serbia

Ruben Holloway
June 23, 2018

Xherdan Shaqiri scored a late victor to help Switzerland stun Serbia 2-1 in their second Group E game on Friday.

Shaqiri's flag - he also wears a Swiss one on his left boot - has been perceived as provocation with Kosovo declaring independence from 10 years ago - which has refused to recognise. Xhaka is of Albanian descent, and his father previously participated in a demonstration against the communist Yugoslavian rule in Kosovo that landed him a lengthy jail sentence.

Granit Xhaka gave Switzerland an equalizer against Serbia in the 52nd minute Friday with a brilliant strike from long range - but the replays showed that the attempt at goal likely should have been blocked by Serbia's Branislav Ivanovic.

As he wheeled away in celebration, the Kosovo-born playmaker crossed his hands to imitate an eagle, which appears on Albania's flag, prompting reporters to ask whether the gesture was a statement in light of Serbia's failure to recognise his birthplace as an independent state. You can see what I did, and it's just emotion, and I'm just happy to have scored the goal.

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Switzerland's coach, Vladimir Petkovic, said: "You should never mix politics and football".

"I hope that people will take notice of us and take us seriously". The hard-working striker (and goal-scorer) Aleksandar Mitrovic disrupted Switzerland's build-up play, and Nemanja Matic orchestrated the game while protecting the battle-hardened back four.

Switzerland finishes its World Cup group stage round with a match against Costa Rica on Wednesday in which a win would secure a spot in the knockout stage. It's a wonderful atmosphere and positive emotions and that's what football should be about.

So after a highly entertaining match at the Kaliningrad Stadium, here are five things we learned.

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But it was Shaqiri who struck the decisive blow, breaking through Serbia's offside trap to slot home calmly as the 90 minutes wound down. "I am a man of sports, and this is what I'm going to stay being".

Shaqiri's runs down the wings were a constant threat to Serbia's defense, while the Swiss midfield recovered after a shaky start to dominate in the same way it did against Brazil in their first match.

A 1-0 win over Costa Rica and Brazil's surprise 1-1 draw with Switzerland has left Serbia on the cusp of advancing from Group E in Russian Federation.

In a frenetic first half, Switzerland had more of the ball but were sloppy with it, giving away possession in advanced positions and sending Serbia on the break.

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