Xherdan Shaqiri Winner Sinks Serbia

Xherdan Shaqiri
KALININGRAD, RUSSIA - JUNE 22: Xherdan Shaqiri of Switzerland scores his team's second goal pass Vladimir Stojkovic of Serbia during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group E match between Serbia and Switzerland at Kaliningrad Stadium on June 22, 2018 in Kaliningrad, Russia. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Xherdan Shaqiri scored a late winner for Switzerland which allowed them to come from a goal behind to beat Serbia 2-1. This victory has put Switzerland in pole position to qualify for the knockout stages, as they now sit second in Group E with one more game to play.

Xherdan Shaqiri Nets Late Winner for Switzerland

First Half

Serbia took just four minutes to break the deadlock. Aleksandar Mitrovic headed in a left-footed cross from Dusan Tadic to give Serbia a 1-0 lead. Switzerland struggled to get going in the early stages, resulting in Serbia taking advantage.

With twenty minutes played, Serbia were by far the better side. Mitrovic’s danger in the air stood out, as Tadic supplied the striker with plenty of ammo from the right. Fortunately for the Swiss, the deficit remained by a single goal.

However, by the half-hour mark, Switzerland began to find their feet. Steven Zuber played a clever pass into the path of Blerim Dzemaili who made the run but failed to apply the finish. Moments later, Dzemaili was played through by Xherdan Sheqiri, but he opted to cross rather than shoot.

At this point, Switzerland enjoyed a good period of possession, moving the ball around well but failing to take their chances. Despite the pressure from Switzerland, Serbia stood firm and organised defensively. Managing to push the Swiss back, Tadic proved to be a good outlet going forward.

Two minutes before half-time, Serbia almost doubled their lead. A Tadic corner found Zoran Tosic who was unmarked at the back post but he couldn’t connect with the ball properly as his effort bounced behind for a goal-kick.

Serbia would have been the happier side by far, as they went into the break 1-0 up. Despite a slow start, Switzerland edged into the game but found themselves up against a very defensively organised Serbian side.

Second-Half

Switzerland made their first change during the interval; Haris Seferovic made way for Mario Gavranovic as they sought after a much-needed route back into the game, to keep their knockout stage hopes alive.

Seven minutes into the second-half, Switzerland bought the game all square. Granit Xhaka drilled in an effort from 20 yards out after Shaqiri’s effort deflected off Kolarov and set up wonderfully into the path of the Arsenal midfielder who made it 1-1.

Following the goal, the game opened up as Switzerland looked to gain confidence going forward but Serbia were continuing to stand firm and resolute, especially defensively.

Moments before the hour-mark, Shaqiri almost scored a sensational goal. After a run down the right, Shaqiri spun and managed to get a left-footed shot away which hit the crossbar. Switzerland showed signs of vast improvement from the first-half.

By the hour, Switzerland had recorded 68% possession whereas Serbia had 32%. A contrast to the first 45 minutes, as the Swiss were now standing firm and also going forward with more confidence.

Now with the game wide open, Serbia also continued to threaten in attack. Kolarov’s low cross from the left flashed across goal untouched, all that was required was the slightest of contact to put Serbia ahead but Mitrovic arrived seconds too late.

In the 83rd minute Switzerland substitute Gavranovic managed to get in-behind the Serbian back-line on-side, but his tame effort was saved. A great chance for Switzerland to take the lead, but another chance missed once again.

With 20 seconds of the 90 minutes remaining, Shaqiri broke away with plenty of space as Tosic struggled to get back in time, before calmly slotting the ball home to give Switzerland a 2-1 win.

Switzerland in Pole Position in Group E

Following that win, Switzerland now sit second in Group E. They are now on four points as are group leaders Brazil. However, Serbia can still qualify for the knockout stages as they are currently on three points.

In their respective final group games, Serbia play Brazil and Switzerland play Costa Rica, who are out of the tournament.

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