Last gasp Shaqiri seals Swiss win over Serbia in Group E

Kieran Trippier

Serbia are the lowest ranked team in Group E but come into this game in pole position after their 1-0 win over Costa Rica, while the Swiss earned a creditable 1-1 draw with joint-favourites Brazil in their opening game.

Boasting one of the oldest defences in the tournament, Serbia's rearguard and goalkeeper have collectively racked up almost 300 caps between them, as defensive tyro Nikola Milenkovic is the only player in the Serbian backline below the age of 30.

If Switzerland lose by one goal and Serbia draw, goals scored becomes the tiebreaker; through two games, the Swiss lead 3-2.

Former coach Slavoljub Muslin, who led the team to qualification for Russian Federation, reportedly paid with his job for failing to select Milinkovic-Savic.

Serbia refuses to recognise the independence of its former province Kosovo which broke away 10 years ago.

Stoke midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri is expected to continue to wear footwear which will have the Kosovo flag on his right heel to pay tribute to his heritage. A deflected shot from Shaqiri fell beautifully for Granit Xhaka to run onto the loose ball and rifle the shot past Stojkovic to even the scores.

"If there are such Albanian patriots, why don't they play for that country?"

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One sub-plot to watch out for could be the Serbian fans' treatment of Switzerland's three players with links to Kosovo. "They're trying to provoke us but we won't get dragged down to their level".

Both displayed a bird hand signal as they celebrated scoring goals, and considering their pre-match comments, post-match social media posts, and ethnic backgrounds, those were clearly meant to represent the double-eagle symbol in the middle of the Albanian flag.

Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic was equally reluctant to be drawn into the debate.

But when asked about the flags Petkovic insisted he will focus on Switzerland's performance.

Coach Vladimir Petkovic brought on attackers Breel Embolo and Mario Gavranovic in a bid to force a victor, and Gavranovic forced a smart save from Stojkovic from a close range effort with 10 minutes remaining. 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. Mario Gavranovic, Josip Drmic and youngster Breel Embolo proved highly effective second-half substitutes who exposed a visibly tiring back line.

Serbia could have gone in two goals to the good at the break but Matic missed a glorious chance when Tadic's in-swinging corner found him unmarked at the back post but he couldn't sort his feet out. The Serbia and Switzerland clash promise to be an all European cracker.

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