Serbia 1-2 Switzerland: Shaqiri puts Swiss on the verge of the last 16

Serbia 1-2 Switzerland: Xherdan Shaqiri puts Swiss on the verge of the last 16 with individual strike after Granit Xhaka thunderbolt cancelled out Aleksandar Mitrovic header in World Cup Group E clash

Supporters of Stoke may sometimes wonder whether Xherdan Shaqiri‘s self-regard outweighs his talent but there can be no doubting his sustained influence on Switzerland.

He walked the walk when the pressure mounted, scoring a last-minute goal to seal a comeback win over Serbia and place his country in prime position for progression to the knock-out phase.

Four years ago Shaqiri got a hat-trick in Brazil. At the last Euros he scored a ridiculous volley. In Kaliningrad he kept his cool at the vital moment. Sent clear by Steven Zubar‘s through ball, Shaqiri took advantage of Dusko Tosic‘s idiotic attempt to play offside to race into the box and slide home a finish.

Stoke forward Xherdan Shaqiri was the hero as he raced away from the defence to score an 89th minute winner

Aleksandar Mitrovic headed Serbia ahead after just five minutes against Switzerland following a good cross from Dusan Tadic

Seven minutes after half time, Switzerland‘s Granit Xhaka equalised with a magnificently struck shot from distance

MATCH FACTS 

SERBIA (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic 6; Ivanovic 7, Milenkovic 7, Tosic 5, Kolarov 7; Matic 7, Milivojevic 7 (Radonjic 81min); Tadic 7.5, Milinkovic-Savic 6.5, Kostic 6 (Ljajic 65, 5); Mitrovic 7.5.

Scorer: Mitrovic 5.

Booked: Milinkovic-Savic, Milojevic, Matic, Mitrovic.

Manager: Mladen Krstajic 7.

SWITZERLAND (4-2-3-1): Sommer 7; Lichsteiner 6, Schar 5, Akanji 6.5, Rodriguez 6; Behrami 7, Xhaka 7.5; Shaqiri 8, Dzemaili 6 (Embolo 73, 6), Zuber 6.5 (Drmic 90); Seferovic 4 (Gavranovic 46, 6).

Scorer: Xhaka 52, Shaqiri 90.

Booked: Shaqiri.

Manager: Vladimir Petkovic 7.

Referee: Felix Brych (G) 5.

Attendance: 33,167.

Shaqiri ripped off his shirt and flexed his muscles, the epitome of a celebration that screams for the spotlight. But he had every right having delivered once again on the international stage.

There was added spice in Serbia being the vanquished opponents. Shaqiri proudly shares his Kosovan heritage on his boots and had licked his lips when the countries were paired, tweeting: ‘Hmm, I like this draw.‘ His display will inevitably encourage those Premier League sides thinking of triggering his release clause at Stoke, worth in excess of £12million, to act. A point against Costa Rica in the final game will send Shaqiri and Switzerland through to the last-16, and beating Brazil to first is very possible.

They did ride their luck to victory, it must be said, and Aleksandar Mitrovic now knows how it feels to be Harry Kane. Not just because he can finally call himself a World Cup scorer.

The similarity extends to Mitrovic suffering the same wrestling takedown as Kane and getting nothing from the referee. Except Mitrovic was hauled to the floor by not one but two defenders.

It was an outrageous double foul when the score was 1-1 but Felix Brych was unmoved and once again the VAR declined to get involved. 

The Newcastle United striker powered home from six yards with Serbia set to qualify for the last 16 with victory

Mitrovic celebrates after scoring to put Serbia – bottom seeds in Group E – ahead against the Swiss in Kaliningrad

Mitrovic, who had a goal-laden loan spell with Fulham last season, directed his header unstoppably past Yann Sommer

Mitrovic celebrates the opening goal with team mate Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and the Serbia supporters in the stands

It had begun so perfectly for Serbia, who gained the lead inside five minutes. Mitrovic had already served warning of his potency in the air, drawing a fine save from Yann Sommer, before he executed a brilliant header to put his country ahead.

Nemanja Matic won possession high up, Dusan Tadic delivered an excellent cross, and Mitrovic bullied Fabian Schar to direct the ball into the corner.

Soon after Blerim Dzemaili missed great chance for Switzerland, skewing the ball wide from 10 yards, and he was unable to capitalise on a delicate pass by Steven Zubar on the half hour either. Goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic was equal to Dzemaili‘s deft finish.  

Arsenal midfielder Xhaka showed impressive technique to sweetly strike a rapidly spinning ball into the far corner

Vladimir Stojkovic was unsighted and left rooted to the spot as Xhaka‘s powerful drive beat him all ends up

Xhaka celebrates with his team mates in a game where Switzerland needed to avoid defeat in their World Cup campaign

Xherdan Shaqiri‘s effort was blocked out to Xhaka 25 yards from goal and he curled a brilliant strike home with huge power

Mitrovic should have had a penalty in the second half when he was hauled down by two players, but it was waved away

Mitrovic complains to referee Felix Brych, however both the on-field officials and the VAR were totally unmoved

Overall though Serbia were putting in the more accomplished team performance and should have been 2-0 up before the break when Tadic‘s corner found Dusko Tosic unmarked. Tosic somehow conspired to miss the ball entirely.

Arsenal fans know Granit Xhaka is capable of such maddening episodes but seven minutes after the interval he struck a thunderbolt to draw Switzerland level.

Aleksandar Kolarov produced a superb block to Shaqiri‘s shot but the ball spun kindly for Xhaka and his wicked strike from 25 yards curled dramatically to leave Stojkovic flat-footed.

Shaqiri was next to summon something sensational, thumping a sitting ball from an impossible angle so that it swung and clipped the post.

He was at it again at the death, this time showing his sprinting skill, and this time finding the net.

An entertaining game was decided in the 89th minute when Shaqiri burst away from the Serbian defence to score

Shaqiri stayed calm under pressure from the Serbian defence before tucking under Stojkovic to win the game

Shaqiri‘s calm winner changes the complexion of the group and leaves Switzerland only needing a point against Costa Rica

Shaqiri, who flung off his shirt in celebration of his goal, is mobbed by his jubilant team mates in the pouring rain

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