Shaqiri & Xhaka celebrations spark scandal as politics overshadows Swiss win against Serbia

Alfred Finnbogason

- This will be the first meeting between Serbia (as an independent nation) and Switzerland.

One sub-plot to watch out for could be the Serbian fans' treatment of Switzerland's three players with links to Kosovo.

Xhaka and Shaqiri are among several members of the Swiss squad who are of Kosovar heritage, which added an extra dimension to the match.

"You should never mix politics and football, it's good to be a fan and important to show respect", Petkovic said.

"It's clear that emotions were displayed up and I think we all need to steer away from politics and focus on this sport as a attractive game that brings people together", Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic told reporters.

His performance will be just one of the reasons why they will go into their final group match against Brazil with hope.

Boasting one of the oldest defences in the tournament, Serbia's rearguard and goalkeeper have collectively racked up almost 300 caps between them, as defensive tyro Nikola Milenkovic is the only player in the Serbian backline below the age of 30.

A 1-0 win over Costa Rica and Brazil's surprise 1-1 draw with Switzerland has left Serbia on the cusp of advancing from Group E in Russian Federation.

Politicians in Switzerland and Serbia had their say, too, in the matter.

But the best of the drama was saved until the 90th minute, when Serbian defender Dusko Tosic made a massive error - stepping up in his own half to leave Xherdan Shaqiri through on goal, the Stoke man racing through on goal and finishing calmly to give his side the victor to an epic encounter.

Stoke midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri is expected to continue to wear footwear which will have the Kosovo flag on his right heel to pay tribute to his heritage.

Ahead of the grudge match, Serbian media had reported that FIFA had asked the Swiss federation to ban Kosova or "Greater Albania" flags, but the Swiss denied the story as baseless.

9 - the number of World Cup matches Nati captain Stefan Lichtsteiner has now played for Switzerland, breaking the national record held by Charles Antenen since Chile 1962. Lone striker Aleksandar Mitrovic fired a powerful header beyond the helpless Yann Sommer in the Switzerland net.

Friday's match also features two coaches who both come from Bosnia, a country that emerged from the former Yugoslavia after a bitter war in the 1990s.

Serbia were making all the forays in and around the offensive third.

"I think that Mr. Petkovic is from Sarajevo".

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