Costa Rica 0-1 Serbia
56’: Kolarov (SER)
Group E preview: Brazil favourites, but tough battle for second spot.
FT: And that is the victory. Kolarav’s wonderful freekick seals a vital win. But Serbia had many more chances and could have won this by 2-3 goals. Savic and Tadic were very impressive as well. Costa Rica just didn’t find any rhythm during the game but Gonzalez had missed a superb chance in the first half.
92’: Costa Rica assistant holding on to the ball as it went out of the sidelines and Matic didn’t like that one bit. A bit of a bust up. Some unwanted drama. But things settled down.
90’: Five minutes of extra time. Costa Rica still have a chance as small as it may be. But Serbia’s defence has mostly done the right things.
89’: That was the last of Mitrovic’s involvement. He has been taken off. Prijovic comes on.
86’: Mitrovic misses a golden opportunity. Lovely through ball from Savic but the striker’s first touch let him down. It was too soft and the ball got stuck under him. He went down in the penalty area but replays showed there was no contact.
81’: Tadic going off after a wonderful game. He was Serbia’s creative spark today. The 34-year-old Rukavina, a defender, is coming on. Spells out Serbia’s tactics from this point on.
75’: Kostic, who had just come on, misses a superb opportunity. Superb ball across the penalty area by Tadic, Navas got a finger on it and it was enough to through Kostic of. If Navas had not got the touch, he had only to only tap the ball in. What a chance.
74’: It will be difficult for Costa Rica to breakthrough now with Serbia sitting deep. It would not suit their tactical style. And when they go forward, it will be an opportunity for Serbia to strike too. Still, there is no option now. They have to throw caution to the winds.
69’: Serbia settling into a defensive setup now – maybe a bit too early. Kostic comes on for Ljajic.
56’: GOOOAAAAALLLL!!!! Navas is beaten by a wonderful free kick from Kolarov. It was quick and placed right in the top-right corner. Something special was needed to beat Navas and this was exactly that. This World Cup has already seen as many direct free kick goals as the World Cup 2014.
55’: Yellow card for Guzman. Two Costa Rican players are on a yellow now. Free kick coming up.
49’: Navas!!!! What a save! He is having a wonderful game but poor, poor shot by Mitrovic. A nice through ball set him clear with just Navas to beat. He couldn’t. The shot had neither power nor placement. What a chance! Should have scored here.
46’: And we are back. Will we see a tactical change or will things continue as they were? Costa Rica are a good second half team – 13 of their 17 goals in qualifying came in the second half. They know a thing or two about going up a gear.
HT: And that is half-time. Pretty even half. Serbia had more of the ball but Costa Rica counter-attacked well and that is their game. It sets up a very intriguing second-half.
Costa Rica will need to get Bryan Ruiz involved a lot more though. He is their most creative player but hasn’t seen enough of the ball.
43’: Bicycle kick! But off-side. It was a really close decision as replays showed that a defender might have played Savic onside. Would not have mattered as Navas make a good save.
41’: Good movement by Calvo but he is unable to finish it. Final shot goes wide.
38’: A bit of a lull after a bright start. Both sides look a little bereft of ideas at the moment, are they playing for HT? Serbia’s possession rate has gone up to 64% now.
35’: Foul near the corner flag and Serbia sent in the ball from the free kick. But an acrobatic save by Navas did the job. Navas had a 91% save ratio in the last World Cup. He is a key, key man for them.
31’: Tadic is seeing a lot of the ball now and showing some wonderful touches too. Very impressive play. The Southampton star had a hand in 10 of Serbia’s goals (scoring six and assisting four) during the World Cup qualifiers.
26’: Off-side! Savic managed to get behind the Costa Rican defence but couldn’t get off a good shot. It would not have mattered as the flag went up but still... Serbia starting to dominate a bit more.
21’: Yellow card for Costa Rica’s Calvo for a harsh tackle on Tadic near the Serbian penalty area.
17’: Serbia have had more of the ball – 54% to 46% and given their midfield that is expected but when Costa Rica break forward, Urena has been troubling the Serbian defenders.
13’: Both teams are going for it. The group also has Brazil and all the other teams know that the second place is up for grabs. Meanwhile, wonderful run by Ivanovic down the right flank. The final ball was a good one too but no one there to finish it.
11’: Costa Rica have another corner and Gonzalez (totally unmarked at the back post) misses a very good chance. No one around him. Big chance this. He should have at least hit the target.
7’: No side in the clear ascendancy here. Both, Costa Rica and Serbia, have settled in well. No one is holding back in the early going. After the Nigeria-Croatia game yesterday, this is a welcome change.
2’: Brilliant ball by Ruiz finds Urena in the Serbian penalty area. Forcing GK Stojkovic to come out and make a save. Good brisk start to the game.
1’: Costa Rica have already given away a corner. Nice ball straight into the D from Serbia. In their first match of the 2014 World Cup, Costa Rica had beaten Uruguay 3-1. So even though Serbia are favourites for most, do not count Costa Rica out.
5.26 pm: National anthems done. It is time for the kick-off. Serbia are in their first major tournament in 7 years.
5.03 pm: The starting XIs
Keylor Navas - Johnny Acosta, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Oscar Duarte, Francisco Calvo - Cristian Gamboa, Celso Borges, Bryan Ruiz - David Guzman, Johan Venegas, Marcos Urena
Coach: Oscar Ramirez (CRC)
Vladimir Stojkovic - Dusko Tosic, Branislav Ivanovic, Aleksandar Kolarov - Nikola Milenkovic, Luka Milivojevic, Dusan Tadic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Nemanja Matic - Adem Ljajic, Aleksandar Mitrovic
Coach: Mladen Krstajic (SRB)
4.53 pm: Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic, Crystal Palace captain Luka Milivojevic, former Manchester City defender Aleksandar Kolarov and veteran Branislav Ivanovic are the big names and lend a solidity to the Serbian line-up but much of the creative work is expected to be done by Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Serbia have a star-studded squad but often end up playing a very drab game.
04.50 pm: Costa Rica coach Óscar Ramírez has focussed on a solid defence and quick counterattacks. It also helps that they have one of the world’s finest goalkeepers, Keylor Navas, under the bar. They are a tough side to break down. Bryan Ruiz will be expected to pull the strings in the midfield for what is the oldest side in the entire tournament.
04.49 pm: Costa Rica are unbeaten in their last five World Cup games (all were played in the 2014 edition of the tournament). Los Ticos have also tied their last three games. The tournament record for consecutive draws was set by Belgium (5 consecutive draws between 1998 and 2002).
04.00 pm: Hello all and welcome to The Field’s live blog of the first match on this Super Sunday at Russia 2018. Two powerhouses make their bow at the 2018 World Cup later today, but the appetizer before Germany and Brazil’s matches is a fascinating match-up between Serbia and Costa Rica. This is the first match of Group E that also includes Brazil and Switzerland.