An incredible free-kick from Aleksandar Kolarov was the highlight as Serbia grabbed a deserved 1-0 victory over Costa Rica.
Serbia were the favourites for the game thanks to their attacking talent, but a lively first half from Costa Rica gave them a scare.
However, an improved second half performance was capped off by Kolarov’s great goal and Serbia were off the board with a win.
This was the game Serbia would have earmarked as must-win with games against Germany and Mexico coming up, but Costa Rica were determined not to be overlooked and should have been in front after just three minutes.
Oscar Duarte did well on the left to swing in a perfectly-placed cross, but Giancarlo Gonzalez’s header was straight at the goalkeeper, despite getting a clean connection from ten yards out. It was a great chance, but the striker would be guilty of missing a bigger opportunity minutes later.
David Guzman did well to find a cross and Serbia’s awful marking meant Gonzalez had a free header from inside the six-yard box. It was bread and butter for a striker, but he got it all wrong and directed the ball well over the cross bar. It was a really bad miss and Costa Rica will be looking back at these moments as hugely important for their tournament.
It was a first half that Costa Rica bossed, but the second period proved to be Serbia’s moment to shine. With attacking talent like Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Tadic, the chances were soon to come but the Fulham striker wasted a great chance for the Serbians. Tadic played his part with a superb slide-through pass but Mitrovic fired his shot straight at Keylor Navas from ten yards.
It didn’t matter though as the only real moment of quality in the game proved to be the match-winner. Kolarov is well-known for liking a long-range shot but the ex-Manchester City man surprised the stadium when he curled home a free-kick from close to 35 yards. It was a terrific strike, perhaps the best of the tournament so far, and it deservedly gave Serbia all three points.
Costa Rica tried to push back, but couldn’t force a goal-scoring opportunity. In fact, Serbia could have killed the game off but a lack of composure in the final third meant it ended 1-0.