Xherdan Shaqiri secures Switzerland precious World Cup win over Serbia with late breakaway winner

Rob Bagchi
Xherdan Shaqiri seals victory for Switzerland with a late counter-attacking goal that completed the comeback from 1-0 down to Serbia - Getty Images Europe

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 wondergoal 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. 

  

9:07PM

Where does this leave the group

Serbia need to beat Brazil on Wednesday unless Switzerland are beaten by Costa Rica by a couple of goals - a draw against Costa Rica will suffice for Switzerland. 

9:03PM

Opta's statistical pointers

  • Switzerland’s 2-1 victory over Serbia is the first game at the 2018 World Cup to see a side win from a losing position.
  • As an independent nation, Serbia have lost each of the six World Cup matches in which they have conceded.
  • Switzerland have lost just one of their last 24 matches (W17 D6), a 2-0 defeat by Portugal in a World Cup qualifier in October 2017.
  • Stephan Lichtsteiner made his ninth World Cup appearance for Switzerland in this game – the most of any Swiss player in history.
  • Aleksandar Mitrovic has been directly involved in 15 goals in his last 15 starts for Serbia (13 goals, 2 assists).
  • Five of Granit Xhaka’s 10 goals for Switzerland have come from outside the box.
  • Only Josef Hügi (6 goals) has scored more World Cup goals for Switzerland than Xherdan Shaqiri (4, tied with Robert Ballamann & Andre Abegglen).
  • Xherdan Shaqiri has been directly involved in five of Switzerland's last six World Cup goals (four goals, one assist).

9:02PM

This seems about right

 

8:58PM

How they stand

 

8:54PM

Full time Serbia 1-2 Switzerland

Serbia were the better side for more than an hour, defended superbly until that late error and were robbed of a surefire penalty when Mitrovic was bodyslammed  by Lichtsteiner and Schaer. They have every right to feel aggrieved. But you have to admire Switzerland's clinical finishing and the way they fought their way back into the game. Terrific match. 

8:51PM

 90+3 min Serbia 1-2 Switzerland

Drmic replaces Zuber. Shaqiri isi booked for time-wasting. 

8:50PM

90 min Serbia 1-2 Switzerland

Akanji defends a cross, Tosic makes a terrible error of judgment on halfway, trying to play offside and steps up which lets Shaqiri run past him and through on goal from 50m. Tosic gives chase but he can't catch him despite his efforts. Out comes Stojkovic and Shaqiri waits for him to commit himself then pokes it under his dive with marvellous composure. 

 

8:48PM

Goal!! Serbia 1-2 Switzerland

Shaqiri on the break and with the composure to slot it in. 

8:47PM

89 min Serbia 1-1 Switzerland

It's been a ding dong second-half, supremely enjoyable. Ivanovic stands tall at the cost of a corner. Rodriguez will take from the left. Mitrovic heads it clear from the penalty spot. Serbia have been brilliantly organised at the back and even the goal they conceded was the unfortunate result of a brave block. 

8:45PM

87 min Serbia 1-1 Switzerland

Radjonic tears 50m up the left and cuts inside to head from the box. Akanji has the speed and timing to slide in and knock it behind for a corner from which Mitrovic is penalised for holding. 

8:44PM

85 min Serbia 1-1 Switzerland

Switzerland free-kick 25m out for a Matic trip. Rodriguez hits it at the wall and it balloons out for a corner. Matic blocks a shot as the ball fell in the box from the cross. Serbia break. 

8:43PM

83 min Serbia 1-1 Switzerland

Embolo wins a header and flick it behind the defence and Gavranovic in an undetected offside position scoops his shot at Stojkovic who, after the scare a minute ago, recovers his poise and saves smartly.  

8:40PM

81 min Serbia 1-1 Switzerland

Embolo has a dig from 20m and achieves power without precision though Stojkovic palms it down as it's too hot to grasp at first attempt. 

8:38PM

79 min Serbia 1-1 Switzerland

Kolarov wins a key header at the back post. Switzerland lay siege from 30m out and continue to probe until Xhaka's pass over the top is overclubbed and skips out of play fr a goalkick. Milivojevic is the one to make way for Radonjic, a defensive midfielder for a forward. 

8:37PM

78 min Serbia 1-1 Switzerland

Top class defending from Milenkovic. The Red Star striker Radonjic is about to come on. 

8:36PM

77 min Serbia 1-1 Switzerland

Ljajic shoots, cutting inside on to his right from the left, but his shot is blocked and Switzerland break at pace, Shaqiri scurrying forward, the 'Magic Cube' accelerating towards the box, feinting this way and that. Milenkovic, though, keeps his eyes on the ball and doesn't buy the dummies. 

8:34PM

75 min Serbia 1-1 Switzerland

Rodriguez is having his mouth swabbed for blood, claiming he was elbowed in the universal language of mime. He has to change his shirt and comes on with bloody teeth, like a claret drinker or Dracula.  

8:32PM

73 min Serbia 1-1 Switzerland

Xhaka, from a mile offside and clear through on goal from the left, skewers his shot into the side-netting. The linesman lets the phase end before he flags. 

8:31PM

71 min Serbia 1-1 Switzerland

Switzerlnd sub: Embolo on for Dzemaili.  

Lichtsteiner and Schaer double team Mitrovic and should have been penalised Credit: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

 

8:28PM

68 min Serbia 1-1 Switzerland

A fine pass form Milikovic-Savic sends  Kolarov clear down the left and the captain pings in a daisy-cutter through the six-yard box. Mitrovic doesn't expect it to reach him at the back post so doesn't accelerate but it does elude the defence and he misses it by half a metre or so. For want of a nail ...

 

8:25PM

66 min Serbia 1-1 Switzerland

Brilliant cross from Tadic to the back post where Mitrovic is wrestled to the ground by Lichtsteiner and Schaer. Both had their arms wrapped around him as he went up to win the header and grappled him to the ground. That was a stonebonker of a penalty. They double-teamed him and yet the VAR bottles it and the referee ignores it. 

8:22PM

64 min Serbia 1-1 Switzerland

That was Kostic's last act - he is replaced by Ljajic of Torino who started the Costa Rica game. 

8:22PM

63 min Serbia 1-1 Switzerland

Kostic betrays his frustration with the referee after a tight throw-in call is wrongly given the other way.

 

8:19PM

61 min Serbia 1-1 Switzerland

Milinkovic-Savic  receives a final warning for tussling with Behrami. He has already been booked. 

Xhaka takes a moment after equalising Credit: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images

 

8:17PM

58 min Serbia 1-1 Switzerland

Shaqiri, dances around Kolarov on the right, turns and moves a couple of metres back towards his own goal then bends a scorching shot towards the top left corner that shaves the outside of the joint where the post meets the crossbar. 

Xhaka fires in Switzerland's equaliser Credit: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

 

8:15PM

56 min Serbia 1-1 Switzerland

Gavranovic has made an instant impact and improvement. He is running the channels hard and getting behind the veteran Ivanovic, testing his ability to turn quickly and putting some pain into his legs. 

8:13PM

54 min Serbia 1-1 Switzerland

It looked like the chance had gone when Shaqiri fired his left-foot shot on the break at Kolarov. The ball ricochets out to Xhaka who has been so loose in possession but can still strike a killer shot. It comes to him 22m out and he thrashes it with his left-foot across goal from the left and into the right corner. Utterly unstoppable. Mitrovic should really have scored with that header and yet 20 seconds later their lead instead of being doubled has gone. 

 

8:10PM

Goal!! Serbia 1-1 Switzerland

Xhaka with a left-foot screamer. 

8:10PM

52 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

Careless Xhaka gives the ball to Tadic who links up with Milinkovic-Savic and Mitrovic at the edge of the box. They play slick passes, Mitrovic holds off Schaer and they win a corner from which Mitrovic sends a towering header over the bar. 

8:08PM

51 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

Rodriguez overhits a cross from the left sending it sailing beyond the back post and out for a throw. Gavranovic won the header to play him in having fought to be on the end of Shaqiri's diagonal pass. 

8:07PM

50 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

Zuber makes hay on the left and gets past Ivanovic when he is found by a crossfield pass but he had strayed offside. 

8:06PM

48 min

Switzerland begin the half on the front foot and pass it around, probing left and right as Shaqiri is give a free role at the start. 

8:04PM

46 min

An understandable and overdue switch. Robert Rosario and Jason Lee were more prolific than Seferovic threatened to be. 

8:03PM

Half-time substitution

Mario Gavranovic of Dinamo Zagreb replaces Haris Seferovic for Switzerland. 

7:53PM

Record-breakers

Cue Roy Castle:  

 

7:50PM

Half-time

As they depart Shaqiri and Mitrovic, who has been outstanding, have a chat about an off-the-ball collision at a corner in the first half. Was it deliberate, Mitrovic catching Shaqiri on the side of his head? Mitrovic is explaining himself, making the case that it was an accident. 

7:48PM

45+3 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

Matic is booked for flattening Lichtsteiner. And that's the half. 

7:47PM

45+2 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

In the last minute of added time Tadic flays a left-foot shot that trims the top of the crossbar. He caught it so crisply from 20m out that you could almost hear the 'whoosh' on the boom microphone.

7:46PM

45 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

Switzerland fall apart at the corner losing their men and their shape when Tadic whips it into the box from the right. Tosic dives in and would have scored had he timed his leap properly but instead he is to late and flies under the ball. Panic stations in the box but Switzerland get away with it by the skin of their teeth. 

7:44PM

43 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

Serbia break free on the counter down the left but the cross is too floaty. Then Milinkovic-Savic, who treasures the ball like Swiss Toni and a beautiful woman, kills a firm pass with a lovely touch, takes it in his stride and plays it down the right for Tadic whose cross is blocked behind for a corner.

7:42PM

41 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

At last Switzerland try to pick the lock with a pas slid down the inside left channel where Tosic beats Dzemaili to it by a toenail.

7:40PM

39 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

Yellow card for Milivojevic for a mistimed sliding tackle on Shaqiri 15m inside the Serbia half. Switzerland move it across the field from right to left and back again but they keep getting crowded out by the compact midfield and defence. 

7:39PM

37 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

Scaher shoves Mitrovic in the back as the centre-forward tried to shield a cross just to the left of the box. Kolarov will take. He chips it to the near post for Mitrovic's run but a defender wins the header and clears it to the edge of the box. Tadic hits it sweetly on the half-volley but Sommer saves it in relative comfort even it it momentarily stings his palms. Here's Stojkovic's save:

Stojkovic thwarts Dzemaili Credit: PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images

 

7:35PM

35 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

Yellow card for Milinkovic-Savic who went into a 30-70 challenge for a bouncing ball with Schaer and had his leg raised so high, he studded his opponent in the hip. 

7:34PM

33 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

Dearie me, that's terrible from Dzemaili who is put through the inside-left channel with Milenkovic slow to turn. But instead of shooting he scoops the ball from left to right across the area and ends the threat. At least I think that's what he was doing, trying to cross it. If it was a shot, it was even worse. 

7:32PM

31 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

Smart save from Stojkovic, low to his right from 8m when Dzemaili was played through by a cute, dinked pass from Zuber in the inside-right channel. Stojkovic got down quick and used his strong right wrist to divert it behind. That kind of zip, moving the ball at a fair old lick, unsettled Serbia. 

 

7:29PM

29 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

Lichtsteiner's courageous sliding block concedes a throw-in high up the pitch in Serbia's half but thwarted he centre-half's plan to free Mitrovic through the middle. 

7:28PM

27 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

Xhaka is penalised unjustly for a fair if ungainly tackle on Milivojevic. 

7:27PM

25 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

Tadic tracks Rodriguez diligently as the Milan full-back chases a long diagonal chip. Tadic watches the ball and nods it out as he backpedalled, safety first. Rodriguez sends in the corner and Mitrovic heads it clear. 

 

7:24PM

23 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

Milenkovic stops Shaqiri's thrusting run at the edge of the Serbia area and plays it up the right for Mitrovic to break. he has many qualities but not searing pace and Akanji closes him down and the two collide with a meaty thud. 

7:23PM

21 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

Kostic is played in round the back, behind Lichtsteiner and enters the box from the left. Akanji manages to intercept and scramble it clear. 

Serbia take the lead Credit: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

 

7:20PM

18 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

It's a terrific game so far. Serbia are slick and powerful. Tadic plays it out to Ivanovic who sends a deep outswinging cross to the edge of the penalty area. Mitrovic, who has Schaer cowering in his back pocket, takes it on his chest, swivels and floats a 20m bicycle kick over the bar. 

 

7:18PM

15 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

Milinkovic-Savic storms forward, tacking from centre to right and, when the defence dissolves in front of him, he whacks a right-foot shot from juts outside of the area, aiming for the top left corner but pulls it wide of his target. A minute earlier Kostoc had tiptoed through the box from the left and scooped a clever cross over Schaer, a bit of an up and under, but Rodriguez managed to get in the way. 

 

7:15PM

13 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

Mitrovic's dander and confidence are up and he's thriving on early crosses but takes this one on from too far out, trying to beat Sommer from 20m and flashes it over the bar. 

7:12PM

10 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

Rodriguez makes progress up the left, jinks past Ivanovic to the byeline, then drags back a low pass through the box for Dzemaili who has a clear path to goal form 15m but hooks his left-foot shot wide of the right post. His body shape was all wrong. Here's the goal:

Mitrovic puts Serbia into an early lead Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images

 

7:10PM

8 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

Switzerland corner, taken by Shaqiri from the right. Akanji wins the header and flashes it across the box but Matic is there to stop Shaqiri latching on to it. Switzerland are passing it around, probing patiently.

7:08PM

6 min Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

Switzerland lost the ball on the left side of their defence about half a minute after Milivojevic had a crisp header saved. Tadic takes it to the corner flag and cuts back on to his left foot to bend in an inswinger towards the centre of goal. Mitrovic makes an angle run across goal, beasts Schaer in the air and steers his header wide of Sommer. 

 

7:06PM

Goal! Serbia 1-0 Switzerland

Mitrovic buries it, heading on Tadic's right-wing cross. 

7:05PM

4 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland

Shaqiri rolls the ball across the park for Akanji who is marauding up the left. He switches it back out to Shaqiri on the right who pings it infield for Xhaka. He takes a touch, accepts the invitation to shoot that is implied by Serbia not closing him down but slices a 25m shot over the bar. 

7:03PM

2 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland

Serbia free-kick 10m into the Switzerland half. Kolarov takes and drives a long diagonal. Mitrovic tries to feed on the scraps of the knockdown but Behrami holds him off and keeps him away from the ball in the box. 

7:01PM

1 min Serbia 0-0 Switzerland

The Serbian anthem was belted out by large swathes of the crowd. The team have based themselves in Kaliningrad and they have plenty of supporters in the stadium. Serbia build an attack up the right and Zuber comes back to help out Rodriguez. 

6:56PM

Time for the national anthems

Tache of the tournament Credit: OZAN KOSE/AFP

 The Swiss Psalm is even more funereal than our own. 

6:54PM

The BBC pundits

Favour a draw. I'm hoping Switzerland will feel that they have to go for three points in the knowledge that Serbia are capable of getting a point against Brazil. Serbia are in red, Switzerland in white. 

6:33PM

Meet Vladimir Petkovic

Vladimir Petkovic succeeded Ottmar Hitzfeld as Switzerland manager after the 2014 World Cup and was sacked by Lazio in January of that year for agreeing to take the job. The Bosnian Croat won the Coppa Italia in his first season at the Stadio Olimpico and had managed six Swiss clubs since ending his playing career in 1997, most notably three years and a league runners-up place with Young Boys.

Petkovic took Switzerland to the last 16 at Euro 2016 where they were knocked out in a penalty shootout by Poland Credit: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images

Until he took that job in Bern in 2008 Petkovic had combined his football career with working for the Catholic Caritas homeless charity in Locarno and his ‘moral character’ was singled out by the Lazio owner as the reason for hiring such a relatively unknown and unsuccessful coach. 

6:22PM

Fancy impersonating VAR? 

What have you come as?

test - do not delete
How VAR could have changed past World Cups

 

6:08PM

And finally those teams in the classical style

Serbia Stojkovic; Ivanovic, Milenkovic, Tosic, Kolarov; Matic, Milivojevic; Tadic, Milinkovic-Savic, Kostic; Mitrovic.
Substitutes Rukavina, Spajic, Zivkovic, Prijovic, Rajkovic, Veljkovic, Rodic, Grujic, Ljajic, Radonjic, Jovic Dmitrovic.

World Cup record: Serbia

Switzerland Sommer; Lichtsteiner, Schär, Akanji, Rodriguez; Xhaka, Behrami; Shaqiri, Dzemaili, Zuber; Seferovic.
Substitutes Moubandje, Elvedi, Lang, Embolo, Freuler, Mvogo, Fernandes, Gavranovic, Drmic, Djourou, Bürki.

World Cup record: Switzerland

Referee Felix Brych (Ger)

6:01PM

Spoiler alert

Ninety minutes' ebb and flow can be a bit of a distraction for some. If you'd like to know the final score now, have a go on the Telegraph's ingenious prediction brain: 

 

5:58PM

The rumours were true

One change - Kostic replaces  Ljajic. 

 

5:50PM

No official word from Serbia

But the well-sourced rumours suggest one change, Adem Ljajic is out and Hamburg's thunderfoot Filip Kostic is in. 

5:48PM

Switzerland are unchanged

 

5:35PM

Kaliningrad Stadium

You don't have to be a Simon Inglisite to think 'Phwoar!':

Kaliningrad Stadum Credit:  David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

 England play Belgium here on Thursday. 

5:29PM

Defusing a powder keg

Here’s a novelty, a virgin World Cup fixture but of course, in the tortuous history of the Balkans, it isn’t what it seems. Both Fifa and Uefa consider Serbia as the sole successor of the Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro teams and as such hold that Yugoslavia’s 3-0 victory over Switzerland at Belo Horizonte at the 1950 World Cup and Serbia & Montenegro’s win in 2002 qualifying the year before mean that it isn’t strictly a maiden meeting. But the needle has nothing to do with onfield history and everything to do with that complex past.  

Xherdan Shaqiri is one of three likely Switzerland starters of Kosovan heritage,along with Granit Xhaka and Valon Behrami, but will be the only one who will take to the field with a flag of Kosovo embroidered on the heel of one boot. It has not gone down well in Serbia where it has been interpreted as incendiary provocation and Aleksandar Mitrovic, the centre-forward, spoke out against the proclamation of allegiance. “If he loves Kosovo so much and decides to flaunt the flag, why did he refuse a chance to play for their team?” he said. Most matches are enhanced by a whiff of cordite but there is always a danger when fuelled by nationalist rancour that it can rapidly spiral towards combustion.

World Cup 2018 stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium

Perhaps, given that the match is being played in Kaliningrad, once Königsberg former capital of East Prussia, we should hope that some of the wisdom of the city’s favourite son, Immanuel Kant, prevails: “For peace to reign on Earth, humans must evolve into new beings who have learned to see the whole first.”

Right, handbrake turn away from pseudery, and back to the match. Switzerland were terrific against Brazil and deserved their point - what they lack up front they more than make up for in the unyielding qualities of their midfield. Serbia, too often less than the sum of their parts, gradually prevailed over Costa Rica because of Aleksandar Kolarov’s sumptuous free-kick and the eye-catching attacking thrusts of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. We’ve seen again today how difficult Costa Rica are to beat but it is highly unlikely that the hard-running, niggly Swiss spoilers will afford them any more space to play. It should be tense and may take a touch of Serbia’s traditional midfield ingenuity or Shaqiri’s sporadic class to make it an engaging rather than simply an absorbing game.