After an exchange of blows in the first half with goals from Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri (20th) and Breel Embolo (44th) and Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic (26th) and Dusan Vlahovic (35th), Remo Freuler scored at Stadium 974 in Doha in the 48th minute crucial.

The Swiss team of team boss Murat Yakin meets Portugal in the first knockout round on Tuesday in Lusail. Serbia needed a win to progress. The south-eastern Europeans, as an independent nation, have to wait for a round of 16 participation even after the third World Cup start.

The game was explosive because of its history. In the group duel at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the Swiss Granit Xhaka and Shaqiri, who have Kosovar roots, celebrated their goals with a special gesture: with their hands they formed the double-headed eagle that adorns the Albanian flag – a symbol of Kosovo’s demarcation against Serbia. The Serbs still regard the republic, which has been independent since 2008, as part of their territory.

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Hot duel

Shaqiri and Xhaka should also be there on Friday. Switzerland, who had only one goal before the game, started ambush, Serbia’s goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic had to get in front of Embolo after 20 seconds and also parried Xhaka’s follow-up shot. Gregor Kobel was not idle either. The Dortmund goalkeeper replaced Yann Sommer in the Swiss goal after he missed the game like Nico Elvedi with a cold. In the 11th minute, Kobel was lucky with a shot from Andrija Zivkovic at the bar, the rebound bounced off a Serb right into the keeper’s hands.

An exchange of blows developed in which the Swiss presented. Shaqiri of all people scored with a low shot that was slightly deflected by Salzburg defender Strahinja Pavlovic, for the muscle man under contract with Chicago Fire it was the fifth goal in eleven World Cup appearances. Shaqiri has also become the first Swiss to score goals in three World Cups. The Swiss opened the door to the round of 16 – but Serbia answered.