Xherdan Shaqiri says controversial celebration was 'emotion' during Switzerland win over Serbia

Kieran Trippier

Kieran Trippier

Xhaka silenced the Serbian contingent in the 52nd minute, however, when he rifled home a loose ball in spectacular style from 25 meters before Shaqiri ran onto a through ball and finished with aplomb to win the game at the death.

Switzerland wasted little time in finding their equaliser after the break with Granit Xhaka pouncing on a blocked Shaqiri shot and firing an unstoppable blast from outside the box past a helpless Stojkovic on 52 minutes.

Serbia's Aleksandar Mitrovic, front, battles for a ball with Switzerland's Ricardo Rodriguez during the group E match between Switzerland and Serbia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad, Russia on Jun 22, 2018.

With their tails up, the Swiss went close to taking the lead after trickery from Shaqiri out wide directed him to have a crack at Stojkovic, but his effort shaved the post.

Kolarov, whose stunning free-kick saw off Costa Rica, stressed Serbia will maintain its intensity when the Balkan nation faces Switzerland in Kaliningrad on Friday.

"I'm very happy to score the goal, that's all".

That is because several players in the Swiss squad have Kosovo Albanian roots, including midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri who was born in Kosovo, the former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008. His brother plays for Albania's national team. His family, like Shaqiri's, hail from Kosovo, whose independence is not recognised by Serbia for historic reasons.

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"It's clear that emotions were displayed up and I think we all need to steer away from politics and focus on this sport as a lovely game that brings people together", Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic told reporters. 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's a wonderful atmosphere and positive emotions and that's what football should be about.

"I think that Mr. Petkovic is from Sarajevo".

The win puts Switzerland in pole position to make it out of a tough Group E that contains five-times winners Brazil but they were pushed all the way by the Serbs.

"I'm not into politics", Serbia's coach, Mladen Krstajic, told reporters before the game.

Unlike Croatia, who had erected a "cage" for Lionel Messi on the inside-right area of midfield, Serbia's central players had to deal with a much more varied threat.

A 1-0 win over Costa Rica and Brazil's surprise 1-1 draw with Switzerland has left Serbia on the cusp of advancing from Group E in Russian Federation.

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