Published: Sat, June 23, 2018
Sport | By Tony Jimenez

Shaqiri stuns Serbia to give Swiss hope

Shaqiri stuns Serbia to give Swiss hope

A seemingly innocuous goal celebration performed by both Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri has thinly veiled, politically charged undertones and could potentially land the pair in Federation Internationale de Football Association disciplinary proceedings following Switzerland's 2-1 win over Serbia.

But the best of the drama was saved until the 90th minute, when Serbian defender Dusko Tosic made a massive error - stepping up in his own half to leave Xherdan Shaqiri through on goal, the Stoke man racing through on goal and finishing calmly to give his side the victor to an epic encounter.

Xhaka was born to Kosovan-Albanian parents and has a brother, Taulant, who represents the national team.

Xherdan Shaqiri refused to be drawn into a political discussion after making a gesture evoking the Albanian flag following his game-winning goal for Switzerland against Serbia. Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008 and is not recognized as a sovereign nation by Serbia. You can see what I did, and it's just emotion, and I'm just happy to have scored the goal.

"You should never mix politics and football, it's good to be a fan and important to show respect", he told reporters after the game.

Switzerland midfielder Valon Behrami is receiving treatment for a muscle problem but is still likely to play.

And Serbia head coach Mladen Krstajic is braced for a hard encounter, telling Swiss newspaper Blick: "They are very strong!"

Xhaka, whose 52rd-minute piledriver set up the Swiss comeback, also made the "double eagle" gesture after his goal.

"I think it was a great pass from Gavranovic and I went deep", said Shaqiri. It's a wonderful atmosphere and positive emotions and that's what football should be about.

Xhaka was playing a lot more freedom with a change of system, his through ball on the edge of Serbia's penalty area found Steven Zubar but former Chelsea full-back Branislav Ivanovic knocked it away from his toes just in time.

Costa Rica, who lost to Brazil earlier on Friday, have been eliminated after back-to-back defeats but, with Brazil and Switzerland on four points and Serbia one further back, it means it's all to play for on matchday three.

Serbia had chances to score more before halftime.

Xherdan Shaqiri of Switzerland celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group E match between Serbia and Switzerland at Kaliningrad Stadium on June 22, 2018 in Kaliningrad, Russia.

Tensions have been building in Serbia ahead of the Switzerland match.

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