Captain Kolarov strikes as Serbia beat Costa Rica 1-0

Brenda Watkins
June 18, 2018

Serbia should have made the final 10 minutes a little less nerve-wracking when Tadic crossed for substitute Filip Kostic on the penalty spot, although Navas got a vital touch on the ball to prevent the forward from finishing on the half-volley.

That was to prove the only goal of a fractious and largely ho-hum affair. The set-piece allowed Kolarov to step up in the 56th minute and bend a memorable free kick over the wall and beyond Navas into the top corner.

It was the third free kick goal so far at the World Cup: Russia midfielder Aleksandr Golovin had one in stoppage time in the 5-0 tournament opener against Saudi Arabia and Ronaldo capped his hat trick against Spain with the other.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, whose non-selection during qualifying led to Slavo Muslin's sacking as Serbia coach, nearly broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time, but his overhead kick was well kept out by Real Madrid 'keeper Keylor Navas in the Costa Rica goal. Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who plays for Real Madrid, couldn't reach it.

But Serbia will face far better teams than Costa Rica in the knockout stages, if they make it that far, and their lack of cohesion and communication will hamper them.

Potentially tougher clashes against both Brazil and Switzerland now await Serbia later in the group.

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Celebrating his 34th birthday in February, many would have forgiven former Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic for slowing down but against Costa Rica he showed no signs of doing so.

Arsenal forward Joel Campbell was introduced with Costa Rica chasing the game and he nearly capitalised on an error from Nikola Milenkovic, but the centre-back recovered remarkably to deny the striker as he found himself one-on-one with Stojkovic.

Serbia's defender Dusko Tosic (C) and Serbia's defender Aleksandar Kolarov (L) celebrate their victory at the end of the Russian Federation 2018 World Cup Group E football match between Costa Rica and Serbia.

But it was Los Ticos that started strongest in Samara, taking advantage of a snoozing Serbia defense with a quick corner, but Giancarlo Gonzalez's header went well over when unmarked from four yards out.

The Serbia manager feigned a pass in a bid to waste time in the second-half and there was a fracas late on between Nemanja Matic and the Costa Rican bench. Navas also stopped Milinkovic-Savic's bicycle kick in front of goal in the 42nd minute, but it was ruled offside.

Now with Italian club Lazio, rumours have swirled that Manchester United might be interested in the dynamic 23-year-old midfielder. "I told the lads in the changing room "This isn't over".

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