Kolarov scores from free kick, Serbia beats Costa Rica 1-0


Aleksandar Kolarov struck a superb free-kick as Serbia opened their World Cup campaign with a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica in Samara.

The other teams in Group E are Brazil and Switzerland, with the five-time world champions overwhelming favourites to top the group.

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.

"It is great to have three points, but we are not finished".

The wall of noise and colour from outside the ground was soon transported indoors, where the nearby Costa Rica fans in particular made it hard to hold a conversation with a colleague sat three yards away.

When Serbia were on the ball, the 23-year-old found space alongside Aleksandar Mitrovic in attack, switching the formation to a 4-2-4 at times using his height and power to become a nuisance to the defenders winning four of his aerial duels while also creating three chances. Kolarov and company still have two more tricky group stage fixtures against Switzerland and Brazil.

The captain added that Costa Rica hoped to show on Sunday that they had learned from their mistakes. Kolarov capitalized on the opportunity, curling the free kick past Navas' reach.

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Meanwhile, Costa Rica boss Óscar Ramírez spoke defiantly after his sides loss, claiming that the World Cup is far from over for his side despite the defeat.

Goals are of course what everybody watching that match will be wanting to see scored, and this is going to be a very tricky match to call, if you are trying to get your head around which team is going to win.

"I'm friends with Kolarov who scored an unbelievable goal today, and (Nemanja) Matic, these guys", he said.

Costa Rica's defender Francisco Calvo (left) vies for the ball with Serbia's midfielder Luka Milivojevic during their 2018 World Cup Group E match at the Samara Arena in Samara on June 17, 2018. Indeed, only Germany's Joshua Kimmich (nine) weighed in with more assists than Tadic (seven) in the World Cup qualifying rounds, and is available at 13/5 to score anytime with Betfair.

Ivanovic went into the book for a foul on Johan Venegas soon afterwards, with the latter making way for Christian Bolanos as Costa Rica made the game's first change.

The first half ended goalless.