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 on Sunday.
Serbia's defender Dusko Tosic (C) and Serbia's defender Aleksandar Kolarov (L) celebrate their victory at the end of the Russian Federation 2018 World Cup Group E football match between Costa Rica and Serbia.
Four years ago, Costa Rica were the Cinderella story of the tournament because they could handle a variety of opponents and were able to change their approach on the fly.
These two sides began their Russian Federation 2018 campaign under sunny Samara skies on Sunday but despite the abundant quality on show, profligacy was the underlying theme until Aleksandar Kolarov struck in spectacular fashion just prior to the hour to earn a 1-0 win for his side.
The Diario Extra argued that Costa Rica "got off on the wrong foot".
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The 23-year-old midfielder was the standout player in his side's 1-0 victory and he proved his worth on the field after a stunning debut performance in Russian Federation. Costa Rica faces Brazil on Friday, and it is likely going to need at least a draw to have any shot of moving on from the group stage.
If Mitrovic and Co. were on their game in front of goal, Costa Rica could have found themselves on the end of a similar scoreline to Saudi Arabia on Thursday. The match is the first one on Day 4 of the FIFA World Cup in Russian Federation.
"I'm friends with Kolarov who scored an incredible goal today, and (Nemanja) Matic, these guys", he said.
"Now, the impressive 6'3" footballer has shown off his skills with Serbia in a World Cup, but it has not been the first time the youngster has appeared in an worldwide competition.
"We have to be planted firmly on the ground and proceed as a team", coach Mladen Krstajic said.
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The coach didn't want to criticise the referee after Gabriel Jesus went down in the Swiss area in the second half, but he did say he thought Zuber had pushed defender Joao Miranda prior to the equalizer.
"That's something that maybe cost us in our friendlies, especially in our last match where we had a hard time dealing with Belgium".
The goal also represented a new record in this World Cup.
With Costa Rica proving a tough nut to crack, Kolarov stepped up to bury a 25-metre effort from wide on the right, lighting up an otherwise tight game in the southern Russian city of Samara.
The Ticos are hoping to improve on the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
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