(MENAFN- Trend News Agency)
Switzerland reached the World Cup knockout round for the third
successive tournament after prevailing 3-2 over Serbia on Friday to
finish runners-up in Group G and set up a last 16 showdown with
Portugal, trend reports citing reuters .
In a contest that ebbed and flowed at breakneck speed in the
first half at Stadium 974, Xherdan Shaqiri put Switzerland ahead
but Serbia swiftly scored twice within 10 minutes through
Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Vlahovic to flip the game on its
Breel Embolo delivered another twist in an absorbing opening
period by pulling Switzerland side level just before the break,
while Remo Freuler scored three minutes after the restart to
restore their one-goal advantage again.
Switzerland had fired warning shots with barely 30 seconds on
the clock, as captain Granit Xhaka's strike was blocked by the
Serbian defence before goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic denied
both Embolo one-on-one and also Xhaka on the rebound.
Serbia enjoyed a spell of pressure after that early scare, with
Nikola Milenkovic heading wide from Dusan Tadic's corner before
Andrija Zivkovic took aim from outside the penalty area and rattled
the left post with a powerful effort.
Ricardo Rodriguez's cross in the 20th minute was cleared and
fell to Djibril Sow, who picked out Shaqiri on the right. The
midfielder fired home a strike that took a slight deflection off
Strahinja Pavlovic on its way into the net.
Fulham frontman Mitrovic headed in Tadic's cross to deservedly
draw Serbia level six minutes later. Tadic was involved again and
slipped the ball through to Vlahovic, who steered a low shot past
goalkeeper Gregor Kobel to complete the Serbian turnaround.
But Embolo slotted home Silvan Widmer's low cross in the 44th
minute and Freuler kept the momentum going by thumping in the fifth
goal of the evening, as two wonderfully worked moves from the Swiss
attack proved to be Serbia's undoing.
Midway through the second half, Mitrovic went down too easily
after a challenge from Fabian Schaer but his appeals for a penalty
were turned down, and the Serbian dugout spilled onto the pitch
protesting the referee's decision.
Switzerland finished with six points, level with Group G winners
Brazil but behind on goal difference.
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