Switzerland’s Stephan Lichtsteiner celebrates after the Red Crusaders’ win over Serbia. (REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)

Switzerland 1, Serbia 0

Group E, Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad

Things are even more complicated now in Group E. Brazil beat Costa Rica earlier Friday to take control of the foursome. Then Serbia took an early lead over Switzerland; a victory would have clinched the group for the Eagles. But Switzerland netted two goals in the second half and pulled out a, 2-1 win.

After tying Brazil to open the tournament and Friday’s victory, it’s the Red Crusaders with four points and sitting in first place in the World Cup’s most chaotic group.

Serbia was soaring in the first half after an energetic start that caught the Swiss offguard. Five minutes in, Dušan Tadić swung in a cross from the right wing that Aleksandar Mitrović bumped in with his head. The Eagles rode that goal and the ensuing momentum through the rest of the half.

But the second 45 minutes belonged solely to Switzerland, which by the end of the night had poured 20 shots on Serbian keeper Vladimir Stojković and completed 560 passes.

Striker Xherdan Shaqiri lined up a shot from 20 yards out on the right wing in the 52nd minute that blasted off a Serb defender and all the way across the box to the left side. Granit Xhaka was there waiting, and sent a laser on goal from 23 yards out that beat Stojković cleanly and tied the match.

The Red Crusaders only got stronger after that. In the 90th minute, they used a Serbian turnover to counterattack and feed a long direct pass forward to Shaqiri. He beat his man through the box, finished with a classy touch then ripped his shirt off as he celebrated.

It was a wild end to a wild day in Group E that set up another crazy day full of knockout implications on June 27. Brazil faces Serbia, with the winner likely to move on. Switzerland faces Costa Rica, which has already been eliminated from knockout play.

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What’s next

Serbia: vs. Brazil in St. Petersburg, June 27, 2 p.m.

Switzerland: vs. Costa Rica in Nizhny Novgorod, June 27, 2 p.m.

Complete World Cup scores and schedule

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In-Game Updates

Final: Switzerland 1, Serbia 0

Switzerland: (1-1, 4 points)

Serbia: (1-0-1, 3 points)

Yellow card to Switzerland’s Shaqiri

In the 93rd minute.

Goal Switzerland!

It’s a likely game-winner from Xherdan Shaqiri in the 90th minute that puts Switzerland up, 2-1. The Red Crusaders used a Serbian turnover to counterattack and a long direct pass from the midfield into the attacking zone found Shaqiri with room to run. He got into the 18-yard box and slid a shot past Stojković.


Xherdan Shaqiri of Switzerland scores his team’s winning goal past Vladimir Stojkovic of Serbia. (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Yellow card to Serbia’s Mitrovic

In the 87th minute.

Serbia substitute: Radonjic for Milivojevic

In the 81st minute.

Switzerland substitute: Embolo for Džemaili

In the 73rd minute.

Serbia substitute: Ljaijic for Kostic

In the 65th minute.

Goal Switzerland!

We are tied. The Red Crusaders beat Serbia downfield on a run out and Xherdan Shaqiri blasted a shot from just outside the 18-yard box. That ricocheted off Serbia’s Aleksandar Kolarov and flew all the way to the left side of the box. Granit Xhaka was there waiting, and sent a laser on goal from 23 yards out that beat Stojković cleanly.

Switzerland substitute: Gavronovic for Seferovic

At halftime.

Halftime: Serbia 1, Switzerland 0

If Serbia can piece together another half like this, it will secure a spot in the World Cup’s knockout stage for the first time as an independent nation. A dominant first 45 minutes put the Eagles ahead, 1-0, on an Aleksandar Mitrović header five minutes in, and sturdy play from the back line and goalkeeper has kept Switzerland off the board. The Red Crusaders had a wonderful chance to equalize in the 31st minute, but Serbian keeper Vladimir Stojković made a diving save to protect the lead.

Switzerland needs a win to keep pace with the Serbs and Brazilians in Group E. It earned a draw with Brazil in its first World Cup match, but Brazil defeated Costa Rica earlier Friday to move atop the group standings. Serbia can clinch its knockout round spot with a win after beating Costa Rica last week.

Yellow card to Serbia’s Matic

In first half stoppage time.

Yellow card to Serbia’s Milivojevic

In the 39th minute.

Yellow card to Serbia’s Segej

In the 32nd minute.

Serbia’s Stojković protects the lead

Switzerland in the 31st minute pieced together a neat-looking combination play where Steven Zuber skittered a through ball to an open spot about 10 yards out to Blerim Džemaili. He struck a shot with his right foot, but Vladimir Stojković was there with a diving answer to protect Serbia’s 1-0 lead.

Goal Serbia!

The Eagles are off to a cracking start and look well on their way to sealing a place in the knockout stage. In the 5th minute, Dušan Tadić sent a cross from wide in the right wing to the six-yard box where Aleksandar Mitrović was waiting, and bumped a header into an open piece of net.


Aleksandar Mitrovic of Serbia scores his team’s first goal past Yann Sommer of Switzerland. (Clive Rose/Getty Images)

The colors in this game are really confusing

For the record: Serbia is in red, Switzerland is in white.

Starting lineups announced

Pregame thoughts

Since the breakup of Yugoslavia, Serbia has incubated its fair share of soccer talent, but that hasn’t translated to success on the pitch. After defeating Costa Rica, Serbia is in the driver’s seat in Group E, which also includes Brazil. A win Friday would solidify Serbia’s place in the knockout round. Switzerland recently jumped into the top 10 in FIFA’s world rankings. A loss here would spell trouble for its hopes of advancing after a 1-1 draw with Brazil in its first tournament game.


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Team profiles

Serbia (1-0-0, 3 points)

  • Last World Cup showing: Group stage, 2010.
  • Best finish: Semifinals (as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia), 1930.
  • Notable: Has not been to the round of 16 since 1998, when it was still known as Yugoslavia.
  • FIFA world ranking: 34. ELO world ranking: 20.

Switzerland (0-1-0, 1 point)

  • Last World Cup showing: Round of 16, 2014.
  • Best finish: Semifinals, 1954, 1938, 1934.
  • Notable: The Swiss won nine of their 10 qualifying matches and are in their fourth straight World Cup.
  • FIFA world ranking: 6. ELO world ranking: 10.

Players to watch

Serbia midfielder Nemanja Matic (Manchester United) can score from distance and is adept at controlling the tempo of the game with the ball on his foot. Swiss defender Ricardo Rodriguez (AC Milan) is a veteran of the squad even at age 25. Switzerland will go as far as Rodriguez will take them.

Read more about the World Cup:

Serbia Surprise: Eagles have early advantage in group play

Costa Rica vs. Serbia 2018 World Cup: Kolarov’s free kick all Serbia needs for 1-0 victory

Brazil ties Switzerland in World Cup after push comes to shove

World Cup fans’ view: ‘Hopp Suisse!’ A taste of home, and a sweet goal for Switzerland

Switzerland, Serbia coaches don’t want to talk about Kosovo

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‘GOOOOOOOOL!’ Andres Cantor is the Spanish-speaking American voice of the World Cup