Kolarov’s stunning free-kick secures perfect start for Serbia

Captain secures three points with brilliant second-half effort in Samara

Serbia’s Aleksandar Kolarov scores their  goal from a free kick during the  World Cup  Group E  game against Costa Rica at  Samara Arena. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

Serbia’s Aleksandar Kolarov scores their goal from a free kick during the World Cup Group E game against Costa Rica at Samara Arena. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

 

Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1

Aleksandar Kolarov produced a moment of captain’s inspiration, curling home a superb free kick as Serbia got their World Cup Group E campaign up and running with a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica in Samara on Sunday.

With Costa Rica proving a tough nut to crack, the Roma and former Manchester City player stepped up to bury a 25-metre effort from wide on the right, lighting up an otherwise tight game in the southern Russian city.

Serbia had dominated against a Costa Rica side who had rarely threatened after a bright start, but chances were thin on the ground until Kolarov made the breakthrough in the 56th minute.

With Brazil heavy favourites to win the group, which also features Switzerland, the victory delivered a potentially vital three points for Serbia and left Costa Rica in a precarious position.

After a furious start in which Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic had a header scooped off the line and Costa Rica’s Giancarlo Gonzalez failed to convert two headed chances, the match settled into a more predictable pattern.

Serbia bossed the ball as their enterprising midfield, fusing the experience of Manchester United enforcer Nemanja Matic and the raw talent of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, got on top.

The Lazio playmaker was Serbia’s most creative influence, although his blushes were spared by the linesman’s flag when he fluffed a first-half chance after racing through on goal.

That would have been easily forgotten, however, had he converted an outrageous overhead kick moments before the break that forced a brilliant save from Keylor Navas.

The bullish Mitrovic spearheaded the Serbia attack and was a menace to Costa Rica with his battering ram approach, but when a fantastic chance fell his way early in the second half, his tame sidefoot finish was easily saved by Navas.

It mattered little, however, as the deadlock was broken when Kolarov produced his moment of magic, curling his free kick left-footed over the wall and past the despairing dive of Navas.

There were few chances in the closing stages with Costa Rica substitute Joel Campbell, a mainstay of their run to the quarters four years ago, taking too long to get a shot away when he appeared to be through.

Serbian appeals for a penalty were waved away when Mitrovic went down in the box but their disappointment lasted only until the final whistle.

COSTA RICA (5-4-1): Navas; Gamboa, Acosta, Gonzalez, Duarte, Calvo; Venegas (Bolanos, 60 mins), Guzman (Colindres, 73 mins), Borges, Ruiz; Urena (Campbell, 67 mins). Booked: Calvo,Guzman.

SERBIA (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic; Ivanovic, Milenkovic,Tosic, Kolarov; Matic, Milivojevic; Tadic (Rukavina, 82 mins), Milinkovic-Savic, Ljajic (Kostic, 70 mins); Mitrovic (Prijovic, 89 mins). Booked: Ivanovic,Prijovic.

Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal).

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.