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The political meaning behind Shaqiri's celebration against Serbia

23 June 2018

Xherdan Shaqiri's last minute victor capped an impressive comeback for the Swiss in an eventful Group E encounter in Kaliningrad after Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka levelled following Aleksandar Mitrovic's opener. A deflected shot from Shaqiri fell beautifully for Granit Xhaka to run onto the loose ball and rifle the shot past Stojkovic to even the scores.

Kolarov, whose stunning free-kick saw off Costa Rica, stressed Serbia will maintain its intensity when the Balkan nation faces Switzerland in Kaliningrad on Friday.

Following the match, Xhaka posted a picture of his celebration on his Instagram story, with the caption in Albanian roughly translated to, "Here you go Serbia, this is why they call me Granit Kosovo!"

Kosovo, a former Serbian province, declared its independence in 2008.

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Shaqiri then struck in the 90th minute to secure victory for the Swiss, who are second in Group E behind Brazil on four points with one game remaining. "But there is this history between them and the Albanians in our team, so it was not easy".

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. Not between Swiss and Serbian fans, but between Albanian and Serbian supporters.

"I don't have any comments", Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic said.

Sharp, fast, tireless and elusive, *Xherdan Shaqiri *proved more than a handful for the Serbia defence.

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Lazio's highly rated Sergej Milinkovic-Savic fizzed a right-footed shot narrowly wide of Sommer's right post on 15 minutes, and Mitrovic nearly scored with a spectacular bicycle kick that went the same way minutes later.

Tensions have been building in Serbia ahead of the Switzerland match.

Switzerland midfielder Valon Behrami is receiving treatment for a muscle problem but is still likely to play. Albania and Serbia have a particularly tumultuous relationship, with their leaders meeting for the first time in over 60 years in 2014, which caused tempers to flare.

Coach Vladimir Petkovic brought on attackers Breel Embolo and Mario Gavranovic in a bid to force a victor, and Gavranovic forced a smart save from Stojkovic from a close range effort with 10 minutes remaining.

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He opened proceedings at the Kaliningrad Stadium after heading home a towering header, which means he has now scored 15 goals in his last 18 starts for Serbia.

The political meaning behind Shaqiri's celebration against Serbia