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Switzerland edge Serbia in thriller to progress to round of 16

It was an exhilarating match between the two European sides in which both nations were fighting to progress out of the group.

The Swiss drew first blood in the 20th minute through Xherdan Shaqiri who notched his 5th goal in 15 World Cup matches. The ball was laid off to him by Sow and his effort deflected off Pavlovic and found the net.

But in-from Fulham striker Alexander Mitrovic equalised for Serbia just seven minutes later after a fantastic glancing header. It was Mitrovic at his best as Tadic’s cross found the forward who was not marked closely enough. But take nothing away from the header which nestled into the corner to make the game level.

The frantic first half continued as Serbia scored a second 10 minutes before the break courtesy of Vlahovic who slotted a left foot finish right into the corner, leaving Sommer unmoved as he watched the ball trickle into the net. It came from a through ball by Tadic which was not cut out properly by Freuler and Vlahovic dispatched it to complete the turnaround.

Yet the goals were not done, as Switzerland found a leveller just before half time through Embolo following a cross right across the face of goal into the path of the striker who could not miss.

It was a truly enthralling first 45 between the two sides as they traded punches, but ultimately went into the break on level terms. The fate of both still remained in question but at that stage, Switzerland were going through.

The second half picked off from where the first ended as the Swiss retook the lead just 3 minutes after the restart. Shaqiri dinked a ball into Vargas who cleverly flicked it into the path of Freuler, who atoned for his earlier defensive error and finished on the half volley.

The magnitude of the contest began to boil over as tempers on both benches rose following a Serbian penalty appeal. Mitrovic was caught by a flailing arm from Schar but seemed to make a great deal out of nothing and the appeal was waved away. The Serbian bench were furious at the decision and half of them were on the pitch, however, Argentinian referee Fernando Rapallini managed to calm matters down.

Emotions were at the forefront again in stoppage time; it was no surprise that Xhaka and Mitrovic were heavily involved. Serbia, obviously frustrated, as they were heading out, but Switzerland had no reason to react at all.

As Cameroon beat Brazil, a Serbian equaliser would have sent the African side through, and they did have half a chance in the dying seconds as Radonjic flashed a shot wide of the post.

But the Swiss managed to hold on to reach the knockout stages, finishing behind Brazil only on goal difference in Group G.

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