Doha, Dec 2 (EFE).- Switzerland are through to the knockout stage of the World Cup for the third consecutive time after nipping Serbia 3-2 here Friday.
The Swiss ended the group stage level on points with top-ranked Brazil, but the Canarinha won Group G on goal difference and will face South Korea in the round of 16.
Next up for Switzerland at World Cup 2022 are Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal.
With just a point from their first two games, the Serbs started the match at Doha’s Stadium 974 knowing the nothing less than victory would do, while Switzerland needed only a draw to advance.
Even so, the Swiss hit the ground running and Serbia goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic was forced into action inside the first minute, making saves in quick succession against Breel Embolo and Granit Xhaka.
Serbia’s Andrija Zivkovic hit the post in the 11th minute and the initiative shifted to the Balkan side for a spell before Xherdan Shaqiri scored for Switzerland at the 20-minute mark.
Aleksandar Mitrovic, Serbia’s all-time leading scorer, brought his team level in the 27th, getting his head to a Dusan Tadic cross.
Tadic went on to set up Dusan Vlahovic’s go-ahead goal in the 35th minute after Shaqiri lost the ball in midfield, but the Serbs’ advantage lasted only until the 44th minute, when a pass found Breel Embolo alone in front of goal and he converted.
The frenetic pace carried over into the second half and Switzerland retook the lead with Remo Freuler’s goal in the 48th minute, which proved to be the match-winner.
As the minutes passed, an already rough game grew rougher and the teams combined for 31 fouls and 11 yellow cards, the most in a World Cup game since the 2010 final between Spain and the Netherlands, which saw 12 yellow cards. EFE sa/dr