Serbia 1-2 Switzerland: Mitrović opener cancelled out by Swiss second half comeback

Serbia 1-2 Switzerland: Mitrović opener cancelled out by Swiss second half comeback

A late Xherdan Shaqiri goal proved pivotal in the Group E encounter at the Kaliningrad Stadium.

Ryan White
SerbiaStojkovic, Ivanovic, Milenkovic, Tosicm Kolarov, Milivojevic (Radonjic, min. 81), Matic, Tadic, Milinkovic-Savic, Kostic (Ljajic, min. 65), Mitrovic
SwitzerlandSommer, Lichtsteiner, Schar, Akanji, Rodriguez, Behrami, Xhaka, Shaqiri, Dzemaili (Embolo, min. 73), Zuber, Seferovic (Gavranovic, min. 45)
SCORE1-0, min. 5, Mitrovic. 1-1, min. 52, Xhaka, 1-2, min. 90, Shaqiri
REFEREEDr. Felix Brych (GER). Booked: Milinkovic-Savic (min. 35), Milivojevic (min. 39), Matic (min. 45+2). Mitrovic (min. 88)
INCIDENTSWorld Cup 2018 group game between Serbia and Switzerand

Matchday two of World Cup Group E reached it's climax on Friday evening as Serbia encountered Switzerland, with both teams vying for the victory to enhance their chances of progressing to the round of sixteen.

Aleksandar Mitrović didn't waste any time as it took less than five minutes for him to find the opener to put Serbia ahead. 

However, a half-time rally from Swiss boss Vladimir Petković saw them dominate the second stage of 45 minutes and Granit Xhaka made no mistake with his bullet for an equaliser. 

It took until the 90th minute for his side to find a winner as Xherdan Shaqiri calmly slotted the ball to give Switzerland all three points.

That result leaves Brazil top of the group after the South Americans netted two late goals to triumph over Costa Rica and Switzerland sit second with that win. Serbia lie third.

Mitrović proves to be the early hero

It certainly did not take too long for Serbia to abruptly find the back of the net, and deservedly opened the scoring against Switzerland. After dominating the early stages of the game, Newcastle United forward Mitrović delivered in the fifth minute as he leaped above the opposition defence to bullet his header past Swiss shot-stopper Yann Sommer into the top left corner, making contact with a superb cross courtesy of Southampton star Dusan Tadic, who himself is seemingly likely to exit the Premier League this summer.

The 23-year-old found his 17th international goal in 39 caps for Serbia; a player who helped fire Fulham to the top-flight last term via the Play-Off Final during a loan stint from Tyneside. Much to Serbia's satisfaction, Mitrović proved to be a real handful to the Switzerland defence for much of the first-half.

Switzerland struggling to take chances

The Swiss desperately attempted to make a swift reply as AC Milan defender Ricardo Rodríguez stole the ball of Branislav Ivanović, passing it to Blerim Džemaili but the Switzerland man could only divert his chance wide of the right-hand post - arguably his side's best opportunity in front of goal in the first-half.

Other chances include Xherdan Shaqiri playing a superb ball over the top to Džemaili but the attacker, for one reason or another, decided to cross instead of having a shot himself despite being in a goal-scoring position; that attack eventually came to nothing.

Xhaka bullet earns equaliser

Switzerland came all guns blazing in the second-half and it only took six minutes for the landlocked nation to find their way back into the game as Xhaka's powerful effort nearly made a hole in the goal net.

The Arsenal man found himself in an abundance of space twenty-five yards as the Serbia defence were slow to react to the loose ball, and the midfielder completely caught Vladimir Stojković by surprise as his shot found the corner.

That equaliser was Xhaka's tenth occasion of hitting the net for his national team and kept Switzerland's hopes of making it to the knockout stages alive. Minutes later Shaqiri nearly saw his shot give the Swiss an advantage but the curling opportunity hit the outside of the post; much to Serbia's relief.

Calls for penalty as VAR takes centre stage

Midway through the second half and the population of Serbia were expecting the referee to point to the spot when they felt Mitrović was sandwiched between two Switzerland defenders; Stephen Lichtsteiner and Fabian Schar appeared to be all over the striker but the man in the middle opted to give it the opposite way. Many will be curious to know how VAR has not picked up on that.

Man of the moment provides dramatic winner

With Serbia desperately scrapping in the search of a winner, Switzerland did that precisely as Shaqiri broke on the counter with yards of space to calmly slot past Yann Sommer in the Serbian net to give the Swiss an emphatic ending to the match and all three points.

The Stoke City man would have done his dreams the world of good to earn a return to the Premier League, especially with a goal of that quality and passion.