2018 FIFA World Cup, Group Stage
  • Aleksandar Kolarov (56')

Aleksandar Kolarov free kick gives Serbia win over Costa Rica

A superb second-half free kick from Aleksandar Kolarov was enough to give Serbia a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in a scrappy match at the Samara Arena.

Serbia threatened in the opening seconds, Aleksandar Mitrovic flicking on dangerously from an early corner before Giancarlo Gonzalez cleared.

The action switched to the other end moments later, Vladimir Stokovic saving an angled strike from Marco Urena and, from the resulting corner, gathering a header by Giancarlo Gozalez.

Serbia captain Kolarov fired a low shot wide, but Costa Rica should have been in front moments later when Gonzalez sent a free header horribly over the bar after Urena had crossed.

As an open start continued, Mitrovic saw a deflected strike saved by Keylor Navas.

Costa Rica's Francisco Calvo went into the book for a late challenge on Dusan Tadic as the pace began to slacken slightly, but Serbia were beginning to find more rhythm to their passing.

They fashioned half a chance when Tadic played a pass to Mitrovic, who produced a sublime touch to bring it down but saw his shot blocked.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic shot straight at the keeper when clean through, his blushes spared by the offside flag, before another Tadic attempt to find Mitrovic in the area was thwarted.

Costa Rica defender Johnny Acosta was dazed after being caught by an accidental elbow from Dusko Tosic, but both were able to continue before, with the first half approaching its final five minutes, Urena blasted over from the edge of the box.

Calvo sent a low strike wide as Costa Rica threatened again before Nemanja Matic and Luka Milivojevic combined to find Milinkovic-Savic, whose overhead kick was saved by Navas with the flag up in any case.

With five minutes of the second half gone, only a good save by Navas prevented Mitrovic from opening the scoring after a clipped pass from Milinkovic-Savic, although the striker should have done better.

But after 56 minutes the breakthrough came when Mitrovic was fouled by Calvo, who was booked, and Kolarov curled an unstoppable free kick over the wall and just inside the post.

Ivanovic went into the book for a foul on Johan Venegas soon afterwards, with the latter making way for Christian Bolanos as Costa Rica made the game's first change.

Bolanos was swiftly into the action, curling in a couple of dangerous crosses, before Costa Rica made another change after 67 minutes, Joel Campbell coming on for Urena.

Adem Ljajic was replaced by Filip Kostic as Serbia made their first substitution, and only a good challenge stopped Campbell as he threatened to break through moments later.

David Guzman made way for Daniel Colindres fo Costa Rica before Tadic produced an excellent cross for substitute Kostic, who was unable to get a telling touch as Serbia threatened to seal the points.

With a little over 10 minutes remaining, Celso Borges had a shot blocked before Serbia made another switch, attacker Tadic making way for defender Antonio Rukavina, with Mitrovic missing another chance to double the lead before being swapped for Aleksandar Prijovic late on.

Kostic, with three teammates in space to his right, somehow failed to make the most of a break and Matic got involved in a spat with the Costa Rica bench as he tried to claim a Serbia throw, but no card was shown.