NEW DELHI: Serbia set off their World Cup 2018 campaign at Samara on Sunday on a winning note. They defeated Costa Rica 1-0.
The goal came in the second half through a free kick from Aleksandar Kolarov in the second half of the game. The Roma man beat Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas with a curling free kick into the upper corner, giving the Serbians three vital points and putting Costa Rica in a tough spot to qualify from the group.
According to Sports Illustrated, both teams got golden opportunities in less than two minutes but ended up in the hands of Keylor Navas and Vladimir Stojkovic. In the 11th minute, Giancarlo Gonzalez had a great chance in the box but couldn't keep his header down.
Equally on the 15th, Keylor Navas pushed away a cross from Branislav Ivanovic to keep the score 0-0. In the 26th minute, Navas came to the rescue once again as Serbia missed a great chance to take the lead.
In the 35th minute, Southampton's Dusan Tadic won a free-kick on the right-hand side but in the end Navas cleared it out of the danger zone once the ball came in.
A great chance in the 41st minute found Calvo play a great one-two and take his shot outside the box but just going wide. Los Ticos were gaining confidence as the first 45 was coming to a close. Thus, the first half concluded as an exciting battle with no goals.
The second half continued with the same pace as Tadic, once again, pulled the strings on the right but carefully watched by Costa Rica's defensive unit. In the 50th minute, Keylor Navas made an incredible save to deny a certain goal. But shortly after, Kolarov's incredible free kick was too much for the Real Madrid stopper and it was 1-0 to Serbia.
With 20 minutes to go, Costa Rica was awarded a free-kick but Joel Campbell's in-swinger was easily cleared away. In the 86th minute, Aleksandar Mitrovic was tackled in the box, which looked like a penalty at first glance but the referee was having none of it. In the end, Serbia held on to a precious victory thanks to a fantastic piece of magic from its captain.