DOHA, Qatar — Switzerland sealed a round of 16 match against Portugal with a 3-2 win against Serbia in a bad-tempered clash at Stadium 974 that saw 11 players shown yellow cards by referee Fernando Rapallini.
Goals from Xherdan Shaqiri, Breel Embolo and Remo Freuler were enough to seal victory for the Swiss, with Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Vlahovic scoring for Serbia.
But the game ended with unpleasant scenes off the pitch, with a FIFA announcement made over a public address system urging fans to stop the discriminatory noises and gestures.
Quick reaction 1. Switzerland advance, but can they end the curse of the World Cup qualifier?
Switzerland are good at qualifying for the World Cups and decent enough to get out of their group, but they have failed to reach the quarterfinals in their last seven attempts, so will Qatar 2022 be any different?
This 3-2 win against Serbia means Murat Yakin’s Swiss side will face Portugal in the round of 16, and it’s a game the Swiss can win with their organization and goal threat.
But since they hosted the World Cup in 1954, Switzerland had not reached the quarterfinals: they have developed a habit of qualifying for the tournament but failing to make their mark.
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Ending Cristiano Ronaldo’s World Cup dream would certainly register as something to remember for the Swiss, but Yakin’s team will be a danger to Portugal. They are unspectacular but solid and Fernando Santos’ Portugal team will find them a tough nut to crack.
Embolo and Shaqiri, who both scored in this game, will cause problems for the Portuguese defense, but if the Swiss can contain the attacking threat from the Portuguese, the tie will be decided.
After so many disappointing tournaments, Switzerland is capable of reaching the quarterfinals in Qatar.
2. Shaqiri delivers for Switzerland under intense pressure
Xherdan Shaqiri came into this match under heavy pressure after infuriating Serbia with his goal celebration during Switzerland’s 2-1 win at Russia 2018. On that occasion, the Kosovo-born ethnic Albanian Chicago Fire striker, He caused a political controversy by performing a double. Eagle-headed gesture (the symbol of the Albanian flag) with arms in front of Serbian supporters.
The celebration was so controversial – tensions remain high between Serbia and Kosovo – that Shaqiri missed a Champions League clash against Red Star Belgrade in Serbia with former club Liverpool due to safety concerns.
When his name was read before the game at Stadium 974, Shaqiri was loudly booed by the Serbian supporters and the same thing happened every time he touched the ball.
Xherdan Shaqiri is unpopular with the Serbian fans, who booed him every time he touched the ball, but he didn’t let that get to him on Friday. Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty Images
But Shaqiri was able to eliminate distractions off the pitch to produce a game-winning performance for the Swiss, scoring one and playing a key role in two other goals.
The 31-year-old scored Switzerland’s opener at the end where the Serbian fans were sitting, and celebrated in front of them by putting a finger to his lips and then pointing to the name on the back of his shirt.
Shaqiri was clearly highly motivated to win this game and secure qualification for his adopted country, but after a heated dispute with the Serbian substitutes during the second half, he was substituted for Yakin.
However, on an emotional and tense night, Shaqiri was able to keep his head under difficult circumstances.
3. Serbia disappoints again
Serbia have consistently produced some of the most talented players in Europe, many of them playing in the continent’s top leagues, but once again they have underperformed at a World Cup and crashed in the group stage.
Aside from Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, who scored three goals in Qatar, Dragan Stojkovic’s Serbian side have failed to deliver.
Since the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Serbia has reached four World Cups, failing to advance to the knockout rounds each time.
Top players like Dusan Vlahovic, Dusan Tadic, Luka Jovic and Mitrovic should have given Serbia more than enough to get out of their group.
But despite taking the lead against Switzerland with goals from Mitrovic and Vlahovic, Serbia could not hold on for the win that would have taken them and their loss meant they finished bottom of the group.
Serbia: Vanja Milinkovic-Savic 6; Strahinja Pavlovic 5, Nikola Milenkovic 5, Milos Veljkovic 6; Andrija Zivkovic 6, Sasa Lukic 5, Filip Kostic 6, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic 6; Dusan Tadic 6, Aleksandar Mitrovic 8, Dusan Vlahovic 6.
Subs: Nemanja Gudelj 6, Luka Jovic 6, Nemanja Maksimovic 6, Filip Djuricic 6, Nemanja Radonjic 6
Switzerland: Gregor Kobel 7; Silvan Widmer 6, Manuel Akanji 7, Ricardo Rodríguez 6, Fabián Schar 6; Remo Freuler 7, Granit Xhaka 7, Djibril Sow 6, Xherdan Shaqiri 7; Breel Embolo 7, Ruben Vargas 6.
Substitutes: Denis Zakaria 6, Christian Fassnacht 6, Noah Okafor 6
Best and worst performanceBEST: Aleksandar Mitrovic, Serbia
The Serbian forward scored an impressive header and then set up a goal for teammate Dusan Vlahovic. Serbia has had a poor tournament, but Mitrovic has been excellent.
WORST: Strahinja Pavlovic, Serbia
The Serbian defender made some brave blocks, but his concentration and positioning were so poor that Switzerland continually targeted him and scored goals for their mistakes.
Highlights and Highlights
With a place in the World Cup knockout round at stake, the match was a two-way affair, with Xherdan Shaqiri putting Switzerland ahead first on 20 minutes.
But it only took six minutes for Serbia to hit back and equalize through Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Beautiful ball and header from Serbia 🇷🇸 pic.twitter.com/GgmSelcQvN
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) December 2, 2022
Not long after, Dusan Vlahovic scored again for Serbia to give them the lead.
But it was short-lived, as Switzerland moved behind the Serb defensive line in transition and Breel Embolo equalized.
Breel Embolo made sure to look directly at the camera after his goal 🎥👀 pic.twitter.com/LLTbWqT4SD
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) December 2, 2022
After taking the lead and then falling behind, Switzerland found their way back to the top when it counted, with Remo Freuler scoring the game-winner in the 48th minute.
However, this match can be remembered as much for how tense it was as for its many splendid goals.
By the middle of the second half, the Serbian players were convinced that they had won a penalty, which the referee canceled, but the players did not have it and began to fight a bit with the Swiss players.
The Serbian bench jumps onto the field frustrated after not receiving a penalty for this tackle on Aleksandar Mitrović pic.twitter.com/NmBM8DNQC9
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) December 2, 2022 Post-game: What the players and coaches had to say
Serbia coach Dragan Stojković on the result: “We reversed it after 0-1 to make it 2-1, but again we didn’t play defensively well. It was very easy for the Swiss to score the second goal, which was really shocking. for us. Psychologically, it was very positive for the Swiss. This kind of thing at this level of play is forbidden. If you repeat these mistakes it is very difficult to win. In the future we must work hard and do everything possible to solve the problem issue.”
Stojkovic on Serbia’s elimination from the World Cup: “Given the problems we have faced since our arrival at the World Cup, we struggled with injuries to key players, we did everything we could to get them back on form, but it seems that It was too big.” problem for us. The boys put up a fight and did the best they could. However, for this level of competition, it was unfortunately not enough, but there are justified reasons and I cannot expect more than what they showed on the field. .”
Switzerland goalkeeper Gregor Kobel replaced Yann Sommer, who was on sick leave: “It was my first international match in a long time and to have an elimination game like that was something I enjoyed as a challenge. It certainly wasn’t the most game. easy. In the end, we are very happy to have won this.”
Key statistics (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)
Xherdan Shaqiri scored his fifth World Cup goal, the second highest for Switzerland behind Josef “Sepp” Hügi, who has scored six.
Shaqiri: First Swiss player to score in three FIFA World Cups – he scored three goals in 2014 and one in 2018.
Three players have scored in the last three FIFA World Cups: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Shaqiri.
Until next time
Serbia: With their loss (and Cameroon’s win), Friday’s match was the end of the road for Serbia, who are out of the World Cup.
Switzerland: The Swiss team joins Brazil in the top two of Group G and advances to the round of 16 to face Portugal.