A 90th-minute winner from Xherdan Shaqiri secured a 2-1 victory for Switzerland against Serbia on Friday night.
Having trailed to an Aleksandar Mitrovic goal at half-time, Switzerland were much improved after the break and deservedly pulled off a turnaround victory thanks to a Granit Xhaka wonder goal and Shaqiri’s coolly taken late strike.
Switzerland’s win means they sit behind Group E leaders Brazil on goal difference, while Serbia are below them on third with a point less.
Serbia will in all likelihood need to beat Brazil on Wednesday to stand a chance of qualifying for the last 16, while a draw will be enough for Switzerland.
Switzerland started the game looking to control with possession as Serbia held its familiar shape at the back with five players forming a resilient backline not allowing any creativity from its opponent in the final third. Meanwhile, on the ball, Mladen Krstajic pounced early on as his header was met from Tadic’s amazing cross from the right wing, and just like that, Serbia led 1-0.
The goal prompted an avalanche of offensive firepower for Serbia as Sergej Milinkovic-Savic kept threatening with central runs just outside the box, taking long attempts and testing the keeper. It was all Serbia in the first stages of this game.
After 30 minutes, Vladimir Petkovic’s squad was still trying to find rhythm and feed the ball to Stoke City’s Shaqiri, whose dribbling and ability to take on players can cause problems to the opposition, but Serbia remained strong.
In the 30th minute, there was a great opportunity for Switzerland in the box but it was ultimately denied by Vladimir Stojkovic, who kept out Seferovic’s attempt. In the 36th minute, Serbia captain and Roma defender Aleksandar Kolarov placed a ball inside the box but it was cleared well enough by its opponent. One thing was clear, Serbia was not satisfied with the 1-0 in this half, and was looking to close the first 45 the same way it started it.
In the final minutes of the first half, a dangerous cross missed three players as Serbia could have easily made it 2-0 but in the end was too accurate for anyone to take advantage.
The second half started with Switzerland looking for more of a direct approach, penetrating the final third quicker than the previous half. But it seemed as if Serbia’s defenders were extremely organised only allowing long, hopeful shots that caused no threat.
But just as Serbia was feeling comfortable, Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka equalised with a rocket of a hit outside the box. It was a fantastic goal from the midfielder and the first goal conceded by Serbia in the tournament.
Switzerland was now dominating as Shaqiri also came so close on grabbing the lead for his team with an audacious attempt that hit the edge of the bar.
Shaqiri ended the game for Switzerland with a goal in the 90th minute and three points to boost the team’s qualification chances.