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FIFA WC: Switzerland win thriller to seal last-16 spot

A game that began at a cracking pace and never let up swung one way then the other, Switzerland tossing away a one-goal lead, only to recover for their second straight win.

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Doha: Switzerland overcome Serbia fightback to secure 3-2 decisive victory to book a FIFA World Cup last-16 date with Portugal, scheduled on Tuesday.

A game that began at a cracking pace and never let up swung one way then the other, Switzerland tossing away a one-goal lead, only to recover for their second straight win.

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A game that began at a cracking pace and never let up swung one way then the other, Switzerland tossing away a one-goal lead, only to recover for their second straight win.

Vanja Milinkovic-Savic saved from Breel Embolo and Granit Xhaka as the Swiss poured forward in the first minute.

Serbia’s response came in the form of an Andrija Zivkovic shot from distance that slammed the post. But Switzerland led when Djibril Sow collected a weak clearance from Strahinja Pavlovic to calmly feed Xherdan Shaqiri for the forward to score in a third consecutive World Cup.

Serbia stormed back from trailing Cameroon on Monday and they repeated the trick here. Aleksandar Mitrovic met Dusan Tadic’s delivery with a brilliant header that flew beyond Gregor Kobel, the goalkeeper who received a late summons, with regular No1 Yann Sommer laid low by illness.

Kobel was beaten again eight minutes later, Dusan Vlahovic profiting when the ubiquitous Tadic’s eye-of-the-needle pass was deflected into the striker’s path for a lashed finish into the bottom corner.

Embolo levelled 60 seconds before half-time, steering in from close range after Switzerland got down the Serbia left for Silvan Widmer to cross along floor. Nottingham Forest midfielder Freuler fastened onto Ruben Vargas’s magnificent lay-off on the volley from Shaqiri’s pitching-wedge pass to slide a cute effort past Milinkovic-Savic three minutes after half-time.

The Serbians needed two goals inside 42 minutes to progress. For an idea of the scale of that challenge. The game was up for Serbia, who surrendered a two-goal lead to draw their second match with Cameroon and had another advantage conclusively wrenched from their grasp when Freuler buried his strike.

Sahqiri is keeping company with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi among the three players, who have scored at the 2014, 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Freuler is the first Nottingham Forest player to score at a FIFA World Cup since Pierre van Hooijdonk netted for the Netherlands against Korea Republic at France 98.

“My team said they wanted to make history. We were happy with this result and the way we played. We deserved to win,” Switzerland coach Murat Yakin said.

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