Xherdan Shaqiri says controversial celebration was 'emotion' during Switzerland win over Serbia

Jo Caldwell
June 23, 2018

Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic said politics and football should "never mix" after his two players celebrated goals with the political gestures.

Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri both scored to lift Switzerland to a 2-1 win over Serbia in Friday's Group E World Cup clash between the two teams.

Xhaka and Shaqiri are among several members of the Swiss squad who are of Kosovar heritage, which added an extra dimension to the match. We have a lot of Albanians, so there is a lot of history between Serbia and Albania. It's clear that emotions show up and that's how things happen.

Shaqiri's flag - he also wears a Swiss one on his left boot - has been perceived as provocation with Kosovo declaring independence from 10 years ago - which has refused to recognise.

"I think in football you have always emotions", he said. You can see what I did, I have emotions.

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Serbia almost had their second just before the half but Dusko Tosic's diving header from point-blank range skidded off his head to Nemanja Matic who couldn't react fast enough to finish the chance. The Macedonian Albanian community, which makes up for around 25 percent of the 2.1 million population of Macedonia, are the biggest ethnic minority in the country.

Serbia raced out of the blocks, funnelling possession to Southampton winger Dusan Tadic on the right flank, who troubled Switzerland with his crossing all match. The hard-working striker (and goal-scorer) Aleksandar Mitrovic disrupted Switzerland's build-up play, and Nemanja Matic orchestrated the game while protecting the battle-hardened back four.

On the half-hour mark, Steven Zuber cleverly teed up Blerim Dzemaili but the Hoffenheim man got his feet in a muddle and Vladimir Stojkovic was able to parry away.

They had the better chances in the second period, with Shaqiri's curling effort from the edge of the area grazing Stojkovic's bar on the hour mark.

This prompted Vladimir Petkovic to switch it up at half-time and he brought on Mario Gavranovic at the expense of a despondent Seferovic, and the Swiss attack was immediately transformed, as they pushed forward with more intent and objective than in the first half.

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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.

"What is important is that we've developed this winning mentality".

"We're in a situation where we need a win against Brazil on and we will focus and do whatever we can to try and win".

And Serbia head coach Mladen Krstajic is braced for a hard encounter, telling Swiss newspaper Blick: "They are very strong!"

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