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Switzerland defeats Serbia in a tense battle to get to the World Cup’s last 16 stage.

Remo Freuler’s spectacular second-half goal advanced Switzerland to the knockout stages for the fourth time in five World Cups.
Switzerland qualified for the World Cup’s last-16 encounter against Portugal on Friday following a 3-2 win against Serbia in a tense battle. Xherdan Shaqiri’s deflected shot placed Switzerland ahead, but Aleksandar Mitrovic’s superb header equalised at Stadium 974. Serbia took the lead with Dusan Vlahovic, only for Breel Embolo to equalise before halftime.
When the clubs met in the 2018 tournament, Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri celebrated goals with pro-Kosovo gestures that upset the Serbs. After Serbia appealed for a penalty in the second half on Friday, a stadium announcer called for a halt to “any racist shouts and gestures” roughly 15 minutes later.
Switzerland, who controlled their own fate, nearly struck inside 30 seconds, but Embolo’s shot was brilliantly stopped by Vanja Milinkovic-Savic, who palmed away Xhaka’s follow-up.
Serbia’s Andrija Zivkovic hit the post with a lovely curling attempt from distance, and Vlahovic bundled the rebound right into goalkeeper Gregor Kobel’s arms.
Ricardo Rodriguez speared a cross into the box, which was cleared straight to Djibril Sow, who lay off for Shaqiri to swipe home in front of the Serbia supporters via the leg of Strahinja Pavlovic. There was no double eagle this time. Instead, Shaqiri put his finger to his lips and pointed to his shirt’s name as a handful of bottles rained down on him.
Serbia responded quickly after Switzerland lost possession of the ball in midfield, with Dusan Tadic bending in a cross for Mitrovic to meet superbly and nod into the far corner.
After precisely timing his run to meet Rodriguez’s sweeping diagonal pass, Shaqiri swerved wide under pressure from Pavlovic, but the Swiss immediately suffered for another mistake of concentration. They lost control once more, and Freuler watched in dismay as his attempted interception only helped to set up Vlahovic to roll the ball past Kobel.
Switzerland equalised a minute before halftime when Sow found Silvan Widmer in acres of space on the right and his driving low cross was turned in by Embolo.
The Cameroonian striker’s pressure on a sluggish Pavlovic set up Switzerland’s third goal just after halftime, capping off a magnificent team performance finished by Freuler. After Embolo won it back high up, Shaqiri clipped in an exquisite pass, and Ruben Vargas’ cushioned backheel left Freuler to direct in from outside the penalty spot.
Serbia unsuccessfully requested for a penalty as Mitrovic theatrically collapsed to the ground, resulting in a violent clash that resulted in reserve Serbia goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic getting cautioned.
When clean through on goal, substitute Christian Fassnacht missed a late chance to calm Swiss nerves. An unpleasant quarrel between Xhaka and Nikola Milenkovic threatened to erupt, but the Swiss eventually crossed the line to set up a rendezvous with Cristiano Ronaldo.

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