Stretching the Serbians inadvertently led to the leveler, as a cross-field ball found Xherdan Shaqiri but, after seeing his shot blocked away, it fell to Granit Xhaka, who rifled the ball beyond Vladimir Stojković in the 52nd minute.
Xhaka was born to Kosovan-Albanian parents and his father Ragip spent three-and-a-half years in prison for demonstrating against the Communist Yogoslavia rule in Kosovo. His family sought refuge in Switzerland, like so many others, during the bloody war between Kosovo and Serbia.
"In football you have always emotions and you can see what I did and it's just emotion", he said in reference to his controversial celebration.
The result left Brazil, 2-0 winners over Costa Rica, top with four points, ahead of Switzerland on goal difference with Serbia on three.
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Kosovo gained independence from Serbia in 2008, however, Serbia still reject this. "But there is this history between them and the Albanians in our team, so it was not easy". The Swiss have dozens of ethnic Albanians in their national football program.
"You should never mix politics and football, it's good to be a fan and important to show respect", he told reporters after the game. Serbia, too often less than the sum of their parts, gradually prevailed over Costa Rica because of Aleksandar Kolarov's sumptuous free-kick and the eye-catching attacking thrusts of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
Serbia went in front in the fifth minute when Aleksandar Mitrovic, after missing a header moments earlier, rose above a Swiss defender and wonderfully guided a Dusan Tadic cross from the right past goalkeeper Yann Sommer and into the far corner.
Sharp, fast, tireless and elusive, *Xherdan Shaqiri *proved more than a handful for the Serbia defence.
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Both Shaqiri and Xhaka trace their roots back to Kosovo, a former province of Serbia, a fact that stoked tensions before and during Friday's clash. Mitrovic came close in the 19th minute when he controlled a cross from Branislav Ivanovic on his chest and sent a bicycle kick over the bar.
"If they are such great patriots, why don't they play for their own countries instead of Switzerland?".
Matic said during the build-up the team were expecting a "hellish" encounter with the Swiss, who in their game with Brazil fouled star forward Neymar 10 times alone.
Switzerland snatched a last-gasp victor against Switzerland on Friday night, Stoke City's Xherdan Shaqiri keeping their dream of qualifying well and truly alive.
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