Switzerland quailfy for last 16 in five-goal thriller against Serbia


Switzerland quailfy for last 16 in five-goal thriller against Serbia

Breel Embolo got his side on level terms before Freuler's second half strike
Breel Embolo got his side on level terms before Freuler's second half strikeAFP, StatsPerform
Switzerland wrestled their way to a enthralling 3-2 victory over Serbia in Group G at the World Cup with goals from Xherdan Shaqiri, Breel embolo and Remo Freuler in a game where tensions were high throughout.

Follow the other game in Group G here.

Full Time: Serbia 2 Switzerland 3

Emotions ran high throughout in a fixture with political history and the fireworks on the pitch were just as strong. Switzerland took the lead through Xherdan Shaqiri, Kosovan born, who celebrated in front of the travelling Serbian fans.

Serbia, though fought back, with goals from Aleksander Mitrovic and Dusan Vlahovic to, as it stood, send them through to the next round.

Switzerland were back at it soon after as Embolo tapped in just before the break and Freuler scored the winner in the 47th minute.

So much to unpack from this game, so if you missed any of it make sure to check out our full report, written by James Hilsum.

Check out the full match stats from Opta by StatsPerform - a game that had it all.

Full match statistics
Full match statisticsOpta by Stats Perform

Second Half

99': After all the arguments, we are still playing into the ninth minute of injury time. Still we play as a Serbia goal here would send Cameroon through. But they can't make anything from their last attack.

95': Back in this one and tempers are really flaring up between Granit Xhaka and much of the Serbian team. He is booked for his part in it as Serbian tempers are really boiling over. Breel Embolo is coming off for Noah Okafor.

In the other game, Cameroon have the lead through Vincent Aboubakar, who whips his shirt in celebration only to be sent off for a second yellow card.

93': Luka Jovic gets his head on the ball but the effort is high and wide. It feels like the end of the road for Serbia.

90': Seven minutes for the Swiss to survive or for Serbia to find two goals.

90': Switzerland have a great chance to seal it, but Milenkovic-Savic smothers Fassnacht and keps his side's hopes alive, barely.

87': Time ticking down for Serbia as Switzerland look pretty imregnable at the back - Manuel Akanji has been a collosus for them as has Fabian Schar.

84': Christian Fassnacht is on for Ruben Vargas, who has had a very good game.

83': After Mitrovic picks up a yellow for dissent, Manuel Akanji hits the side netting from the free kick. It's getting pretty spicy out there now.

81': Filip Djuricic is coming off because he has a cut to his face after being caught in a Swiss sandwich. He is furious that he wasn't given a free kick, but it's Switzerland who have a chance to settle it from a free kick just 20 metres from goal.

77': Last throw of the dice from Serbia as Filip Djuricic and Nemanja Radonjic come on in place of Dusan Tadic and Andrija Zivkovic. 

75': For the first time since the fifth goal of the game, Switzerland have a spell of possession that just takes the sting out of the game. Brilliant game management.

71': Twenty minutes to go and Serbia still need two goals if they are to qualify. Dusan Tadic, their best player in the game, finds Mitrovic but his shot is blocked.

68': Switzerland make their first substitutions. Denis Zakaria is coming on for Xherdan Shaqiri and Edimilson Fernandes replaces Djibril Sow.

67': Granit Xhaka now having an argument with the whole Serbia bench following that penalty claim. It takes everyone to calm it down - tensions are simmering now. Change for Serbia, Sergej Milenkovic-Savic is off for Nemanja Maksimovic.

65': Penalty shout for Serbia, but the referee waves it away immediately. Mitrovic stays down after the incident with cramp. There was minimal contact and we play on.

64': Again down the left for Serbia, Filip Kostic tries to find Mitrovic but Gregor Kobel is there to claim the cross.

61': Serbia flying forward in search of that equaliser. Mitrovic crosses over to Tadic, but the playmaker can't wrap his left foot around it, slicing the shot over the bar. The scoring doesn't feel like it's over here.

58': Filip Kostic puts in one of the best crosses of the game, but no Serbian players are able to get on the end of it. A great chance to get level once again. We have a very open game on now.

57': Embolo! NO! He has the easiest chance to score from a yard out to score, but he puts it over the bar. The flag goes up after to spare his blushes.

54': Jovic will be playing off Aleksander Mitrovic as Serbia go to a back four. He nearly picks up the ball from a free kick. Strahinja Pavlovic is then booked and he will miss the next game if Servbia do make it through tonight.

53': Now, having been behind once, what can Serbia do to keep their World Cup dreams alive? They will make a double change, Luka Jovic on for Dusan Vlahovic and Nemanja Gudelj is replacing Milos Veljkovic.


We have a blockbuster on our hands here. It's Remo Freuler who gives the lead to the Swiss, after some wonderful link-up play and a super touch from Ruben Vargas. Still some 40 minutes left in this. Wow.

47': Early booking for Sergej Milenkovic-Savic - he thinks it's a fair challenge on Granit Xhaka, but the referee disagrees.

46': Four goals in the first half, what can we expect in the second? No changes at the break for either side.

Half Time

20:57 CET: Let's check in with Brazil, Cameroon and Pat Dempsey: As the first-half stats suggest, Brazil have dominated the opening 45 minutes. To be quite frank, Cameroon have barely threatened Brazil aside from one good header by Bryan Mbuemo just before the halftime whistle. This second-string Brazil side will be annoyed they haven't filled their boots with some goals already. For Cameroon, they will be happy to still be in this contest. As mentioned, they must win this game to have a chance of advancing.

20:53 CET: Only thing to check out from the first half - the momentum graphic. Now, that's up and down!

First half momentum
First half momentumOpta by Stats Perform

20:49 CET: What a half of football! Four goals and a topsy-turvy encounter that could yet produce more moments of magic in the second half. Xherdan Shaqiri got us off and running with a deflected effort, before Serbia's new strike partnership of Aleksander Mitrovic and Dusan Vlahovic netted. Breel Embolo then scored just before the break to put this game on a knife's edge.

First Half

46': Three minutes of added time in the half.


Sow, instrumental in the first goal, finds Widmer and he coolly finds Breel Embolo, who, from two yards out, can't miss. Now it's Switzerland who have one foot in the last 16. 

43': With a couple of minutes to go before the break, Serbia are sitting in and protecting their lead going into half-time.

38': Switzerland need to score now to get them through and Ruben Vargas hammers one at the goal, but it's blocked by Pavlovic and he clebrates it like he has scored. Proper old-school defending.


Tadic the creator again, he sends a weighted pass into Dusan Vlahovic and, running away from goal, he manages to get enough of his left foot on it to force the shot into the bottom corner and give his nation the lead. Right now, it's Serbia who are going through from Group G.

31': Shaqiri in behind and he's onside - he manages to get a shot away but it flashes just the wrong side of the post. A great chance to double his tally gone.


Down the left again with Tadic and he picks out Mitrovic inside the box, who glances a header beautifully into the far corner. Game on!

23': Djibril Sow in the action again and he goes down inside the box, getting onto a long ball. The referee waves away his claims.

20': Against the run of play, SWITZERLAND LEAD!

On the counter, Switzerland escape down the left with Ricardo Rodriguez. He crosses, but it falls to Djibril Sow, who shows composure to set up Xherdan Shaqiri. He fires and the deflection sends it home. 

18': Some good pressure for Serbia as they continue to probe down the left hand side with Dusan Tadic. Two corners don't come to much. However, they have quite the height advantage if they can get a set play right.

14': Switzerland get down the left flank and Granit Xhaka receives the ball on the edge of the box but finds his shot blocked. Moments later, Silvan Widmer picks up a yellow for a late foul on Filip Kostic - the first of the game.

11': WHAT A STRIKE! Andrija Zivkovic hits one from distance and it beats the keeper but not the post, cannoning off it. Nearly the breakthrough for Serbia from what would have been one of the goals of the tournament.

7': No Yann Sommer tonight for Switzerland, who misses out through illness. He has been one of the best performing international goalkeepers in the last few years. How much of an impact will that have on Switzerland? 

4': Serbia now forward and with their strike partnership of Dusan Vlahovic and Aleksander Mitrovic, they will be a danger from crosses. Dusan Tadic gets a ball into the box, but it's cleared for a corner. From that, Serbia head just wide. An open game in the first few minutes.

2': Just seconds into the game and Switzlerand have two great chances from Breel Embolo and Ruben Vargas to score. But Milenkovic-Savic saves well to keep it goalless.

1': Anthems done, time for business.


19:50 CET: Here we go then, the final group stage games before we start the last 16 tomorrow. Switzerland and Serbia can both still qualify and both are ready to go.

Here are the standings going into the final round of fixtures.

Group G standings
Group G standingsFlashscore

Team News

Serbia: V Milinkovic-Savic, Pavlovic, Milenkovic, Veljkovic, Mitrovic, Tadic, Zivkovic, Lukic, Kostic, Vlahovic, S Milinkovic-Savic

Switzerland: Kobel, Widmer, Akanji, Embolo, Freuler, Xhaka, Rodriguez, Sow, Vargas, Schar, Shaqiri


Political undertones have been simmering away in the background ahead of the game between Serbia and Switzerland.

Switzerland and Serbia - who along with Cameroon need a win for a chance to advance - have only played each other once, in the group stage of the 2018 World Cup. That match remains etched in the memory of fans as one with heavy political undertones.

Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka, born in Basel to ethnic Albanian parents from Kosovo, celebrated his goal against Serbia by forming a double-headed eagle with his hands, an Albanian nationalist symbol that can be found on Albania's flag.

Xherdan Shaqiri - born in Kosovo, which declared its independence from Serbia in 2008 - added another Swiss goal and replicated Xhaka's celebration in the 2-1 group stage win, infuriating the Serbia side and prompting world soccer governing body FIFA to fine both players for unsporting behaviour.

There could be fireworks in this one and you can follow our live audio commentary from 19:55 CET.


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