Eagles have early advantage in group play — Serbia Surprise

Branislav Ivanovic

Branislav Ivanovic

Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic was a relieved man following his side's 1-0 victory over Costa Rica in their opening World Cup Group E match on Sunday.

Costa Rica face an upwards battle to qualify with Brazil and Switzerland to come in Group E following their loss to Serbia.

The Eagles defeated Costa Rica 1-0 in their World Cup opener Sunday, secured by Aleksandar Kolarov's curling free kick that got past veteran goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

After Costa Rica midfielder David Guzman was handed a yellow card, Kolarov stepped up and curled his shot over the wall and into the net in the 56th minute.

If Costa Rica are going to recover, however, they will need to rediscover the defensive organization and clinical counter-attacks that propelled them to the quarter-finals four years ago.

Aleksandar Kolarov's sensational free kick was the difference between the sides in Samara, giving Serbia their first opening match victory in a World Cup since France in 1998.

While not pacing right down to the touchline, Ivanovic tested the Costa Rica defence with his crosses for deep up into Mitrovic and the pushing Milinkovic-Savic.




This reaction from Matic was surprising as Serbia was already winning the match and any time wasting tactic by Costa Rica's coach would have gone in Serbia's favour.

"They [Serbia] are one of the greatest teams, they work intensely, and we are ready to cope with this challenge", Gonzalez said.

Krstajic, who replaced Slavoljub Muslin past year, said his team would study video of Switzerland's match.

"I do not see inordinate pressure on them, even through many people want to (put pressure on them) but they know what to do and are fully focused".

"The first match in the World Cup is always crucial".

Costa Rica has only been able to grab two wins in their last 10 encounters and have not having the best time in the previous games. But a narrow, one-goal win over a Costa Rican team that came into the World Cup in poor form is hardly cause for celebration, and the match highlighted a key weakness in the side.

Milinkovic-Savic gave Navas a workout in the first half, and while he didn't score, he is clearly a potent weapon for Serbia.

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