01:30 am: Wrapping up...
Switzerland had higher possession, 59% and a better passing accuracy, 85%, completing almost double the passes. They were struggling early on to convert those numbers into chances but something clicked in the second half and as a result we witnessed one of the best group stage matches this year.
A fabulous end to the day and we’ll see you on Saturday (just three games this time, not four) starting with Belgium vs Tunisia. Goodnight!
01;26 am: What a game in Kaliningrad, folks. This late night game proved to be a classic. Mitroooo-vic helped Serbia take the lead, but a Xhaka stunner and a Shaqiri solo-run-and-finish from a brilliant counterattack helping the Swiss to a win.
Serbia (3 points) v Brazil (4 points), Switzerland (4 points) vs Costa Rica (out of the World Cup)... this group is wide open now!
FULL-TIME: Switzerland complete a come-from-behind win! What a match!
96th minute: Shaqiri tries to add gloss to the scoreline, his shot from outside the box over the crossbar.
INTO STOPPAGE TIME: A yellow card to Shaqiri for his shirt-off celebration. What a stunning counterattack that was. Turned defence into attack with two touches, and Shaqiri did the rest. Switzerland are set to become the first team to come back from a goal down to win a match at this World Cup.
90th minute: GOALLLLLL, SWITZERLAND! WHAT A COUNTER! Xhaka to Gavranovic, who feeds Shaqiri – has plenty to do, and does it superbly.
89th minute: Another corner from the left for Switzerland, cleared away. Mitrovic with a yellow earrlier. The Serbian forward was arguing with the referee and it was coming.
Arka Bhattacharya says: “Surprisingly good match this, was expecting a drab affair to be honest.”
87th minute: Corner from one end to corner at the other! Good breakaway by Serbia, but Akanji does well to track back with Lichtsteiner out of position.
86th minute: Free-kick Switzerland from a good position, to the left of the goal a few yards away from the box. Matic is the guilty party of fouling Shaqiri – he’s on a yellow. That could have been bad for Serbia, but the ref keeps the card in his pocket. Rodriquez’s free-kick hits the wall and goes for a corner. Serbia hanging on, clear it away. But the Swiss come back.
After 84 minutes, Serbia 1-1 Switzerland
Serbia can’t get a touch on the ball at the moment. Ivanovic almost adds another to the tally of the top-scorer of this World Cup – Mr. Own Goal. Stabs the ball for a corner after it hits the side-netting. Stojkovic is then forced into a good save.
After 81 minutes, Serbia 1-1 Switzerland
Switzerland move the ball well from one side to another. A draw here would do just fine for the Swiss, one thinks. With Costa Rica to come, they’d fancy finishing on 5 points which should be enough given Serbia face Brazil in the final game.
RADONJIĆ (IN) REPLACES MILIVOJEVIĆ
77th minute: This is now a thoroughly entertaining end-to-end affair. Ljajic with a shot at one end, blocked. Shaqiri then breaks forward at pace but tries to do too much on his own. Chance goes begging.
74th minute: Gavranovic will thank the assistant referee later for raising the flag for offside (rightly) against him because he misses a wonderful chance to put the ball in the back of the net after being released down the left flank.
73rd minute: Embolo comes on for Dzemaili.
Meanwhile, this tweet is in reference to how Mitrovic was aghast when a foul was against Serbia in the box.
69th minute: CHANCE SERBIA! Kolarov with a sweet, well-hit low cross from the left that has the Swiss defence scurrying. Mitrovic can’t get a touch at the far post.
67th minute: Some argy-bargy inside the Swiss box, Mitrovic seems aghast that a foul has been called against him.
Meanwhile, here’s an trivia: Granit Xhaka is now the only player who’s surname begins with an X to have scored at the World Cup finals. A record that could be broken one day by this brother perhaps?
65th minute: The second half has been exciting with good pace. Two teams who may not be favourites, but are regular at the World Cup for sure. Ljajic has come on for Kostic, as Serbia now revert to the starting lineup in the previous game.
After 63 minutes, Serbia 1-1 Switzerland
Serbia with a couple of good forays down the left, led by Kostic, but Lichtsteiner has been solid there. Like he was against the likes of Neymar and Marcelo in the previous game.
Xhaka, apparently, has scored five of his 10 goals for Switzerland from outside the box. Arsenal fans must be sharpening their vocal chords to go “shoooooooooot!” every time he has the ball in midfield now, when the Premier League season begins.
58th minute: OHHHH, POST! Shaqiri with another brilliant effort, curling it with power from the left inside the box – it clips the far side of the post. Stunning hit. Switzerland with their tail up.
After 55 minutes, Serbia 1-1 Switzerland
WHAT A GOAL BY XHAKA: Shaqiri’s shot i blocked brilliantly in the box, but it deflects to the Arsenal midfielder who absolutely leathers it from distance, giving Serbia’s keeper no chance. The ball swerving away and nestling into the net on Stojkovic’s right.
52nd minute: GOALLLLLLL, XHAKA!!! Switzerland have hit back! What a strike!
51st minute: Xhaka loses possession in his own half, and Milinkovic-Savic with a through ball to Mitrovic, who does well to make space for himself, but it’s cleared for a corner. A Tadic corner sees Mitrovic head the ball wide.
50th minute: Rodriguez has a wonderful left foot, one of the best in the game but the same cannot be said of his right. Takes a shot from distance and it’s so wide that it goes for a throw in on the right side.
48th minute: The Swiss start on the front foot, but it’s more passive possession than anything still.
46th minute: Second half underway. A change for Switzerland, Seferovic off and Gavranovic on. A straight swap at the top.
Serbia 1 - 0 Switzerland: Mitrovic with the early goal, and Serbia have had the better of the chances there on but have been unable to double the lead. Mitrovic has been involved in 15 goals in his last 15 Serbian starts. This is a striker on fire for his country. He has had 5 of his team’s 10 shots, with two of them on target. Switzerland have 62% ball possession and 87% pass accuracy, but to no avail.
Join us soon for the second half....
HALF-TIME, SERBIA 1-0 SWITZERLAND: An early Mitrovic header has put Serbia within touching distance of their first ever round of 16 appearance at the World Cup. Hold on in the second half, and they progress.
47th minute: Matic is booked for a foul on Lichtsteiner.
46th minute: Ohhhhh! TADIC!! That would have been one of the goals of the tournament! Mitrovic’s header sets up Tadic to have a go from distance. The volley is struck beautifully and it whistles just over the crossbar!
After 43 minutes, Serbia 1-0 Switzerland
A good phase for Switzerland as far as build-up play is concerned but there is no penetration in their passing game. Largely being played in front of the Serbian defence. Serbia break at the other end and Tadic twists and turns in the box but his cross his over-hit.
OHHH! Chance! Serbia have a corner, their first of the match. The delivery is brilliant by Tadic and Tosic is free in the middle but can get only a glancing touch on it - better contact and that was 2-0.
Meanwhile, a good point this by Mr. Lineker. Escaped a few games (France vs Australia comes to mind) the referees have let the game flow.
After 37 minutes, Serbia 1-0 Switzerland
For whatever reason, the Swiss have switched off in the last few minutes. Some poor passes, silly fouls, unable to keep possession. A free-kick from the left now, with Kolarov standing over it. An air of expectation in the stadium. Good delivery, cleared partially, Tadic has a crack from distance – but it’s straight at Sommer.
33rd minute: First booking of the night and it’s for a high boot by Milinkovic-Savic.
30th minute: CHANCE SWITZERLAND! A lovely, well-worked move down the left started by a Xhaka pass to Zuber. The latter slides Dzemaili through on goal, who’s shot is saved well Stojkovic! Resulting corner is wasted by the Swiss. But this is more promising.
27th minute: A foul in the midfield on Xhaka that would make Xhaka proud. Properly mistimed. It’s been a little scrappy over the last few minutes. Switzerland with 61% possession as it stands. Serbia ahead in the stat that matters.
After 24 minutes, Serbia 1-0 Switzerland
This is the 26th match at Russia 2018 and there is still yet to be a goalless draw. And no team has come back from a goal down to win a game.
19th minute: Mitrovic is a hungry man tonight! A lovely cross from deep in the right flank by Ivanovic, drilled with pace. Mitrovic takes it on his chest and tries a bicycle kick – it’s always going over the bar though.
After 15 minutes, Serbia 1-0 Switzerland
A few half chances for Switzerland to attack but nothing concrete comes of it. Kolarov breaks down the left flank once again and chips a good ball to Mitrovic, but he’s crowded out.
Meanwhile... Overheard in the newsroom: “It’s acche din for Serbia as Mitrooooo scores...”
10th minute: Chance, Switzerland! Rodriguez does well against Ivanovic down the left, cuts it back into the box but Dzemaili shot is well wide. Had time and space to do much better.
8th minute: Corner for Switzerland, Shaqiri’s delivery is decent. But Serbia deal with it.
5th minute: GOALLLLL, SERBIA! MITROVIC STRIKES! Brilliant header. The Serbs keep attacking, the ball goes down the right from where Tadic puts in a fantastic cross... this time Mitrovic rises high and glances it over and above Sommer. Lovely, lovely header.
5th minute: SOMMER, SAVE! Good header from Mitrovic (we believe) but it’s a good height. Saved well. But Serbia come again...
4th minute: Xhaka, who is often urged by Arsenal fans to ‘shooooootttt’ when he gets the ball, does so from a distance. It’s a good hit, goes just over the bar.
2nd minute: A Kolarov free-kick from close to the half line causes problems in the box, but Switzerland clear. Shaqiri fouled while trying to counter and gives a bemused look to Kolarov.
1st minute: Serbia in all-red, Switzerland in all-white. That’s going to take a while to get used to.
11:30 pm: Time for kick-off! This promises to be a good game, folks. Strap in...
11:28 pm: A reminder of what’s at stake for this match. A win for Serbia puts them through to the round of 16. A win for Switzerland puts them in pole position.
11:26 pm: Time for the national anthems... first Serbia, followed by Switzerland.
11:22 pm: Serbia vs Switzerland is not an uncommon sight in world sport. There is one of modern day’s most storied sporting rivalry – Novak Djokovic vs Roger Federer. Both, incidentally, big fans of their football teams.
11:28 pm: Switzerland, remember, are ranked 6th in the world and are in some form at the moment...
11:16 pm: For captain Kolarov, the first match was memorable in more ways than one: he scored a magnificent World Cup goal and was presented with a Lada by the governor.
The Roma defender struck a thunderous second-half free-kick that clinched Serbia a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica on Sunday.
“Kolarov scored a wonderful goal and we gave him a prize – a certificate for a Lada 4x4,” acting governor Dmitry Azarov was quoted as saying by the Izvestia newpaper.
“He was very happy and the entire team celebrated the news.”
11:12 pm: Here’s how the two teams are expected to lineup...
(Graphic: @FIFAWorldCup / Twitter)
11:08 pm: “Nemanja [Matic] and I freed Sergej from some defensive duties, which meant that he could show all the potential that he has.” - Luka Milivojevic on highly rated midfielder Sergej Milenkovic-Savic.
He was the one who caught the eye in the first match.
It is widely believed that one of the reasons Serbia sacked former coach Slavoljub Muslin was because he refused to give game time to a young Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
If true, it will surely go down as one of the most bizarre reasons for a coach losing his job. That too, after topping a group that featured Wales and Republic of Ireland in the qualifiers, and booking a World Cup spot.
Read more about him in Vishal R’s feature here.
11:00 pm: The two teams have never faced each other, although Yugoslavia, the predecessors to Serbia, and Switzerland have faced each other 13 times. The Swiss have won two, lost six and drawn five.
10:54 pm: A Switzerland win will make this group very interesting. Don’t just consider this game as a battle for the second spot – if the Swiss go to four points with a game against Costa Rica, the Brazil-Serbia match becomes mighty significant!
Meanwhile, in Argentina’s group...
10:45 pm: The Serbia vs Switzerland game has a very interesting sub-plot.
Kosovo’s team is taking not part in the World Cup but emotions are running high ahead of Serbia’s match between Switzerland, whose squad includes three players from Kosovo.
Midfielders Valon Behrami of Italian club Udinese and Xherdan Shaqiri of Stoke City were born in Kosovo, while Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka was born in Basel to a Kosovar family, and all three played in Switzerland’s surprise 1-1 draw against Brazil.
For Valon Behrami’s uncle Qaush, his nephew will have a “special motivation for victory” on Friday, because his parents suffered while Kosovo was Serbia’s province.
“They both lost their jobs and father was persecuted,” Qaush Behrami said.
Agon Xhaka, a 22-year-old football player, said the father of his cousin Granit was in a prison during the regime of late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic and that the “family emigrated after he was released.”
Read more here.
10:40 pm: Alright folks, here are the confirmed lineups... Kostic replaces Ljajic for Serbia, Switzerland are unchanged. Lichtsteiner fit and set to lead again after limping out in the game against Brazil.
10:34 pm: Alright, it’s time to focus on Group E. In the earlier match of the day, Coutinho and Neymar scored in the 91st and 97th minutes to give Brazil a 2-0 win. And that win put them top of the group.
10:28 pm: It’s FULL-TIME in the other game! Nigeria have done it! They have defeated Iceland 2-0 and set-up a blockbuster final matchday in the group... Musa throws Messi & Co a lifeline. More importantly, Musa keeps Nigeria’s fate in their own hands. Here’s how that match went down.
10:21 pm: We are into added time in the second match of the day where Nigeria are in the process of throwing Argentina a lifeline! Leading 2-0...
10:15 pm: Hello all and welcome to The Field’s live blog of Friday’s third match, as Serbia take on Switzerland in an all-European battle in Group E. After strong performances in their first matches – Serbian winning while the Swiss troubled Brazil big time in a 1-1 draw – the objective tonight would be to build on that platform. Who’s going to come out on top?