Switzerland hero Xherdan Shaqiri lets political gesture speak for itself

Harry Kane England Tunisia

Switzerland were largely ineffective in the first half, but they came out after the restart with more intent, and Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka levelled proceedings with a bullet strike right out of the top drawer, while a late victor from Xherdan Shaqiri secured a vital 2-1 result for the Swiss.

The celebration was a nod to his Kosovar Albanian heritage and a pointed gesture aimed at Serbia.

Although they are both Swiss nationals who represent the Swiss national team, Shaqiri and Xhaka are also both of Kosovan-Albanian descent.

Aleksandar Mitrovic opened the scoring for Serbia in the fifth minute but Xhaka's superb long-range effort in the second half pulled Switzerland level.

Kosovo gained independence from Serbia in 2008, however, Serbia still reject this.

"I'm not into politics", he said, also speaking through an interpreter. You can see what I did, I have emotions.

"It's clear that emotions were displayed up and I think we all need to steer away from politics and focus on this sport as a attractive game that brings people together", Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic told reporters. "I did it, and we don't have to speak about this".

Xhaka was nearly upstaged by Shaqiri who clipped the crossbar with a curling, dipping shot from the unlikeliest of angles and the match turned into a pulsating end-to-end affair which was brilliantly settled by Shaqiri.

More news: The incredible reaction in Walkabout Sheffield after England's last-minute victor against Tunisia

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

Serbia's players did not react to the eagle gestures at Kaliningrad Stadium. "I am a man of sports, and this is what I'm going to stay being". It's a wonderful atmosphere and positive emotions and that's what football should be about.

Tensions have been building in Serbia before the Group E match Friday in Kaliningrad.

The win puts Switzerland in pole position to make it out of a tough Group E that contains five-times winners Brazil but they were pushed all the way by the Serbs.

But it was Serbia, who beat Costa Rica 1-0 in their Group E opener, who almost went in two up.

Petkovic paid tribute to the Switzerland fans for the backing they gave their team despite being outnumbered by Serbia supporters, and picked out Granit Xhaka's equalising goal as the turning point in the game.

Serbia could have gone in two goals to the good at the break but Matic missed a glorious chance when Tadic's in-swinging corner found him unmarked at the back post but he couldn't sort his feet out.

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