Swiss World Cup delight after five-goal thriller with Serbia

swiss goal
Switzerland's Remo Freuler celebrates scoring their first goal [Suhaib Salem/Reuters]

Switzerland reached the World Cup knockout round for the third successive tournament after beating Serbia 3-2 in a high-octane five-goal thriller.

Xherdan Shaqiri scored early in the first half, driving the ball hard and low past the keeper after Djibril Sow fed him the ball.

Serbia swiftly fired back with a fine guided header from Aleksandar Mitrovic, who found himself unmarked in the box, followed by a clever strike from Dusan Vlahovic to flip the game on its head.

The speed of play was relentless at Stadium 974, the only venue at this World Cup without air conditioning.

Serbia vs Switzerland
Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic scores his side’s first goal [Petr David Josek/AP Photo]

Breel Embolo delivered another twist by pulling Switzerland level just before the break, guiding the ball past the keeper with a neat finish.

Remo Freuler scored three minutes after the restart to restore their one-goal advantage again. It was a fine team move, with Embolo holding up the ball and feeding Shaqiri, who chipped it into the box for Ruben Vargas. The FC Augsburg winger flicked the ball on with his heel for Freuler to finish.

Tensions threatened to spill over in the second half after Mitrovic went down after a challenge from Fabian Schar, but his appeals for a penalty were turned down, and the Serbian dugout spilled onto the pitch, protesting the referee’s decision.

There was more pushing and shoving in the final minutes, with Granit Xhaka and Nikola Milenkovic at the centre of the action.

Serbia and Switzerland players clash as referee Fernando Rapallini reacts [Suhaib Salem/Reuters]

Brazil lost the group’s other game 1-0 to Cameroon but still finished as group winners on goal difference, with Switzerland also on six points.

Serbia, who needed a win to give themselves a fighting chance of advancing, finished bottom of the group with only one point.

Switzerland will now face Portugal in the Round of 16.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies