Published: Sat, June 23, 2018
Sport | By Ashley Hunter

Switzerland scorers Xhaka, Shaqiri make Albanian nationalist gesture during win against Serbia

Switzerland scorers Xhaka, Shaqiri make Albanian nationalist gesture during win against Serbia

Stretching the Serbians inadvertently led to the leveler, as a cross-field ball found Xherdan Shaqiri but, after seeing his shot blocked away, it fell to Granit Xhaka, who rifled the ball beyond Vladimir Stojković in the 52nd minute.

"You should never mix politics and football, it's good to be a fan and important to show respect", Petkovic said. I understand them. I think it's normal, it's part of their life.

General view outside the Kaliningrad stadium one day before the match. Xhaka's father was even imprisoned for more than three years for demonstrating against the Communist regime in the late 1980s.

Following the match, Xhaka posted a picture of his celebration on his Instagram story, with the caption in Albanian roughly translated to, "Here you go Serbia, this is why they call me Granit Kosovo!".

Serbia raced out of the blocks, funnelling possession to Southampton winger Dusan Tadic on the right flank, who troubled Switzerland with his crossing all match.

Serbia had chances to score more before halftime. Against Switzerland, he is likely to be the key player once again.

On the half-hour mark, Steven Zuber cleverly teed up Blerim Dzemaili but the Hoffenheim man got his feet in a muddle and Vladimir Stojkovic was able to parry away.

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It should be tense and may take a touch of Serbia's traditional midfield ingenuity or Shaqiri's sporadic class to make it an engaging rather than simply an absorbing game.

Shaqiri shaved the outside of the post six minutes later with a curled snapshot from the edge of the box that left Stojkovic well-beaten.

Shaqiri nearly sent Switzerland ahead just before the hour when he curled a spectacular effort towards the top corner, but the ball hit the outside of the post before dropping behind.

Petkovic brought on attackers Breel Embolo and Mario Gavranovic in search of a victor, and Gavranovic forced a smart save from Stojkovic from a close range effort with 10 minutes remaining. "We need him in the next couple of matches", Petkovic said.

"What is important is that we've developed this winning mentality. We're here for sports to represent our country in the best possible way and we're not at all interested in anything else".

Switzerland became the first team to earn a come-from-behind win in this World Cup - in the tournament's 26th game - and the impact of Xherdan Shaqiri's late strike has thrown Group E wide open.

Head coach Mladen Krstajic is not expected to make major changes but he could hand winger Filip Kostic a start.

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