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Knowing that victory over Switzerland would have taken them into the last 16, Serbia made a fast start to the match.

When Swiss midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri scored a 90th-minute victor against Serbia in their group E match at the World Cup on Saturday morning there was a hidden, or not-so-hidden, message behind his celebration.

"We can't just play physically", he said.

Shaqiri's flag - he also wears a Swiss one on his left boot - has been perceived as provocation with Kosovo declaring independence from 10 years ago - which has refused to recognise.

Serbia are the lowest ranked team in Group E but come into this game in pole position after their 1-0 win over Costa Rica, while the Swiss earned a creditable 1-1 draw with joint-favourites Brazil in their opening game.

Shaqiri was born in Kosovo, the former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008, while Xhaka's parents are originally from Kosovo and they are of Albanian heritage.

Switzerland kept Serbia under pressure for the remainder of the game, and Xherdan Shaqiri broke through with the game-winner in the 90th minute.

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Politicians in Switzerland and Serbia had their say, too, in the matter. Lone striker Aleksandar Mitrovic fired a powerful header beyond the helpless Yann Sommer in the Switzerland net.

A draw for Serbia would have put them in the ascendancy going into that crucial crunch clash with the South Americans, but the Europeans will now be resting their hopes of qualification on, not only a Costa Rican masterclass, but also a masterclass of their own against the most decorated nation in the competition's history.

Unlike Croatia, who had erected a "cage" for Lionel Messi on the inside-right area of midfield, Serbia's central players had to deal with a much more varied threat. Mitrovic came close in the 19th minute when he controlled a cross from Branislav Ivanovic on his chest and sent a bicycle kick over the bar.

On the other hand, Switzerland hasn't lost a game since Euro 2016.

Coach Vladimir Petkovic brought on attackers Breel Embolo and Mario Gavranovic in a bid to force a victor, and Gavranovic forced a smart save from Stojkovic from a close range effort with 10 minutes remaining. Serbia will face Brazil in Moscow at the same time.

Shaqiri had been booed relentlessly by Serbia fans throughout a high-quality match, but the Stoke City forward had the last laugh with his last ditch victor.


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