Brazil and Switzerland ensure their spots in the Round of Sixteen of FIFA World Cup 2018.
Switzerland vs Costa Rica – key events:
Switzerland XI (4-2-3-1): Yann Sommer; Stephan Lichtsteiner, Fabian Schar, Manuel Akanji, Ricardo Rodriguez; Valon Behrami (Denis Zakaria, 60′), Granit Xhaka; Xherdan Shaqiri (Michael Lang, 81′), Blerim Dzemaili, Breel Embolo; Mario Gavranovic (Josip Drmic, 69′).
Costa Rica XI (3-4-2-1): Keylor Navas; Johnny Acosta, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Kendall Waston; Cristian Gamboa (Ian Smith, 90’+3′), Celso Borges, David Guzman (Randall Azofeifa, 90’+1′), Bryan Oviedo; Daniel Colindres (Rodney Wallace, 81′), Bryan Ruiz; Joel Campbell.
Goals: Dzemaili (31′), Waston (56′), Drmic (88′)
Yellow cards: Gamboa (11′), Campbell (29′), Lichtsteiner (37′), Zakaria (75′), Schar (83′), Waston (89′)
Costa Rica started the day well and looked determined to save some glory. Switzerland goalkeeper had a busy day during the first half an hour. Campbell and Oviedo in particular tested Sommer a few times. The custodian made several stunning saves to keep them at bay while two shots from the Costa Ricans hit the post as well. And then, the Swiss attack got the first breakthrough, against the run of the play. Embolo was the target of a Lichtsteiner ball and he set Dzemaili up with a nice head. The attacking midfielder just needed to slot it home from a close range and he did that perfectly with a thunderbolt, to make it 1-0 for Switzerland. The two teams went to the halftime break with the same score and Shaqiri and co were likely to progress to the next round at that stage.
But, the underdogs were not ready to let go. 10 minutes into the second half, Campbell’s well-taken corner was perfectly nodded home by Waston and Costa Rica got their equalizer. However, the Swiss took the lead again in the final minutes. Substitute striker Drmic pounced on a good ball from Zakaria and put it comfortably past Navas. The stoppage time though experienced more drama. Switzerland conceded a penalty and Ruiz failed to convert it, but the rebound fell on Sommer and then moved inside the goal, to make the final scoreline 2-2.
Switzerland vs Costa Rica highlights:
Let us now turn our attention to the bigger match of the day.
Serbia vs Brazil – key events:
Serbia XI (4-2-3-1): Vladimir Stojkovic; Antonio Rukavina, Nikola Milenkovic, Milos Veljkovic, Aleksandar Kolarov; Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Nemanja Matic; Dusan Tadic, Adem Ljajic (Andrij Zivkovic, 75′), Filip Kostic (Nemanja Radonjic, 82′); Aleksandar Mitrovic (Stefan Jovic, 89′).
Brazil XI (4-3-3): Alisson; Fagner, Thiago Silva, Miranda, Marcelo (Filipe Luis, 10′); Paulinho (Fernandinho, 66′), Casemiro, Philippe Coutinho (Renato Augusto, 80′); Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.
Goals: Paulinho (36′), Silva (67′)
Yellow cards: Ljajic (33′), Matic (48′), Mitrovic (70′)
Brazil were the better team in the beginning stages, controlling the play and creating better opportunities. Stojkovic had to pull off a couple of great saves to keep the Latin Americans away. However, it was coming, all along! With about 10 minutes to go in the first half, Coutinho found Paulinho with a delicious long ball, and the Barcelona man made no mistake to lob the ball above the Serbian goalkeeper’s head. It was 1-0 to Brazil. The scoreline remained the same at the break and Serbia needed two goals to make it through.
The European came back stronger and attacked repeatedly in the second half. But, Alisson had the last laugh every time. And then, unlikely candidate Thiago Silva headed from a Neymar corner to double the lead for Brazil. Soon after, Luis almost got the third, but this time, the opponent goalkeeper made a save. Eventually, Brazil ensured a 2-0 victory and went to the next round as group toppers. They will face Mexico in the Round of 16 while Switzerland will take on Sweden for a quarter-final berth.
Serbia will be dejected by all means. Especially, Manchester United star Nemanja Matic and former Fulham forward Mitrovic could not deliver as expected. On the other hand, Brazil once again relied on former Liverpool man Coutinho who now has two goals and one assist to his name. It goes without saying that in the Round of 16 too, the Selecao attack will once again depend on the little magician.