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What is it? This match sees Colombia and Japan make their bow at the World Cup 2018, as Group H - the last of the eight groups, finally gets under way. When is it? Tuesday 19 June - ie today. What time is kick-off? 1pm UK time. What TV channel is it on? BBC One. Alternatively, you can follow the match live with us on Telegraph Sport. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game Where is the game being played? At the Mordovia Arena in Saransk. World Cup 2018 stadium: Mordovia Arena What is the team news? Premier League fans, there are familiar faces on both sides here: Arsenal's David Ospina and Tottenham's Davinson Sanchez will be joining forces to guard the Colombia goal, while Chelsea and Manchester United flop Radamel Falcao will lead the line. Another former Chelsea man in Juan Cuadrado should also start. For Japan, Southampton's Maya Yoshida and Leicester's Shinji Okazaki should both start. Former United man Shinji Kagawa will pull the strings in behind Okazaki. And as well as all of that, the biggest star has yet to be mentioned: 2014 Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez will play in behind Falcao. He scored six goals in five games at the last World Cup. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more And the squads in full: Colombia squad Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Arsenal), Camilo Vargas (AC Deportivo Cali), Jose Fernando Cuadrado (CD Once Caldas). Defenders: Cristian Zapata (AC Milan), Oscar Murillo (CF Pachuca), Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven), Yerry Mina (Barcelona), Johan Mojica (Girona FC), Frank Fabra (CA Boca Juniors), Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham Hotspur). Midfielders: Wilmar Barrios (CA Boca Juniors), Carlos Sanchez (RCD Espanyol), Abel Aguilar (AC Deportivo Cali), James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich), Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Juventus), Mateus Uribe (Club America), Jefferson Lerma (Levante), Juan Fernando Quintero (CA River Plate). James Rodriguez will be key for Colombia Credit: AP Forwards: Carlos Bacca (Villarreal), Radamel Falcao Garcia (Monaco), Luis Muriel (Sevilla), Miguel Borja (SE Palmeiras), Jose Izquierdo (Brighton & Hove Albion). Japan squad Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Metz), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka), Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol). Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo (Galatasaray), Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds), Wataru Endo (Urawa Reds), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Hiroki Sakai (Marseille), Gotoku Sakai (Hamburg), Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers), Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers). Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt), Keisuke Honda (Pachuca), Takashi Inui (Eibar), Shinji Kagawa (Dortmund), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Genki Haraguchi (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Takashi Usami (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe), Ryota Oshima (Kawasaki Frontale). Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Leicester), Yuya Osako (Werder Bremen), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz). What's the latest news on the two teams? Earthquake back home adds to Japan's worries Japan has not had the best of preparations for the World Cup in Russia, and news of an earthquake back home added to their worries on Monday, while a false hotel alarm a day before their opener against Colombia did little to help settle the team. The four-time Asian champions, who also face Senegal and Poland, have undergone a turbulent 10 months since qualifying, culminating in the firing of Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic, the former Algeria coach, in April after a string of poor results. Japan's players in training on the eve of the game Credit: Getty images Former technical director Akira Nishino, who played as a midfielder for the national side, was named to lead the Samurai Blue in Russia, and has been in charge for just three games in the leadup to the tournament. The team woke up to the news on Monday that Osaka, Japan's second-biggest metropolis, was hit by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake in the early hours, killing three people and injuring dozens. "There were players who were a bit shocked by this incident and they were concerned about relatives and family members," Nishino told reporters ahead of Japan's Group H opener at the Mordovia Arena. "They were concerned, so this psychological impact is something I am a bit worried about. But we, the team staff, are consulting with them and hope they will settle down." What are the odds? Colombia win - 8/11 Draw - 13/5 Japan win - 5/1 What's our prediction? Colombia are rightly favourites to win, and although Japan have quality sprinkled across their first team, the South Americans should just have that bit too much star quality. Prediction: Colombia 3 Japan 1 WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018, Colombia vs Japan: What time is kick-off, what TV channel is it on and what is our prediction?
What is it? This match sees Colombia and Japan make their bow at the World Cup 2018, as Group H - the last of the eight groups, finally gets under way. When is it? Tuesday 19 June - ie today. What time is kick-off? 1pm UK time. What TV channel is it on? BBC One. Alternatively, you can follow the match live with us on Telegraph Sport. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game Where is the game being played? At the Mordovia Arena in Saransk. World Cup 2018 stadium: Mordovia Arena What is the team news? Premier League fans, there are familiar faces on both sides here: Arsenal's David Ospina and Tottenham's Davinson Sanchez will be joining forces to guard the Colombia goal, while Chelsea and Manchester United flop Radamel Falcao will lead the line. Another former Chelsea man in Juan Cuadrado should also start. For Japan, Southampton's Maya Yoshida and Leicester's Shinji Okazaki should both start. Former United man Shinji Kagawa will pull the strings in behind Okazaki. And as well as all of that, the biggest star has yet to be mentioned: 2014 Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez will play in behind Falcao. He scored six goals in five games at the last World Cup. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more And the squads in full: Colombia squad Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Arsenal), Camilo Vargas (AC Deportivo Cali), Jose Fernando Cuadrado (CD Once Caldas). Defenders: Cristian Zapata (AC Milan), Oscar Murillo (CF Pachuca), Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven), Yerry Mina (Barcelona), Johan Mojica (Girona FC), Frank Fabra (CA Boca Juniors), Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham Hotspur). Midfielders: Wilmar Barrios (CA Boca Juniors), Carlos Sanchez (RCD Espanyol), Abel Aguilar (AC Deportivo Cali), James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich), Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Juventus), Mateus Uribe (Club America), Jefferson Lerma (Levante), Juan Fernando Quintero (CA River Plate). James Rodriguez will be key for Colombia Credit: AP Forwards: Carlos Bacca (Villarreal), Radamel Falcao Garcia (Monaco), Luis Muriel (Sevilla), Miguel Borja (SE Palmeiras), Jose Izquierdo (Brighton & Hove Albion). Japan squad Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Metz), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka), Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol). Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo (Galatasaray), Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds), Wataru Endo (Urawa Reds), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Hiroki Sakai (Marseille), Gotoku Sakai (Hamburg), Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers), Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers). Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt), Keisuke Honda (Pachuca), Takashi Inui (Eibar), Shinji Kagawa (Dortmund), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Genki Haraguchi (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Takashi Usami (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe), Ryota Oshima (Kawasaki Frontale). Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Leicester), Yuya Osako (Werder Bremen), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz). What's the latest news on the two teams? Earthquake back home adds to Japan's worries Japan has not had the best of preparations for the World Cup in Russia, and news of an earthquake back home added to their worries on Monday, while a false hotel alarm a day before their opener against Colombia did little to help settle the team. The four-time Asian champions, who also face Senegal and Poland, have undergone a turbulent 10 months since qualifying, culminating in the firing of Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic, the former Algeria coach, in April after a string of poor results. Japan's players in training on the eve of the game Credit: Getty images Former technical director Akira Nishino, who played as a midfielder for the national side, was named to lead the Samurai Blue in Russia, and has been in charge for just three games in the leadup to the tournament. The team woke up to the news on Monday that Osaka, Japan's second-biggest metropolis, was hit by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake in the early hours, killing three people and injuring dozens. "There were players who were a bit shocked by this incident and they were concerned about relatives and family members," Nishino told reporters ahead of Japan's Group H opener at the Mordovia Arena. "They were concerned, so this psychological impact is something I am a bit worried about. But we, the team staff, are consulting with them and hope they will settle down." What are the odds? Colombia win - 8/11 Draw - 13/5 Japan win - 5/1 What's our prediction? Colombia are rightly favourites to win, and although Japan have quality sprinkled across their first team, the South Americans should just have that bit too much star quality. Prediction: Colombia 3 Japan 1 WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
What is it? This match sees Colombia and Japan make their bow at the World Cup 2018, as Group H - the last of the eight groups, finally gets under way. When is it? Tuesday 19 June - ie today. What time is kick-off? 1pm UK time. What TV channel is it on? BBC One. Alternatively, you can follow the match live with us on Telegraph Sport. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game Where is the game being played? At the Mordovia Arena in Saransk. World Cup 2018 stadium: Mordovia Arena What is the team news? Premier League fans, there are familiar faces on both sides here: Arsenal's David Ospina and Tottenham's Davinson Sanchez will be joining forces to guard the Colombia goal, while Chelsea and Manchester United flop Radamel Falcao will lead the line. Another former Chelsea man in Juan Cuadrado should also start. For Japan, Southampton's Maya Yoshida and Leicester's Shinji Okazaki should both start. Former United man Shinji Kagawa will pull the strings in behind Okazaki. And as well as all of that, the biggest star has yet to be mentioned: 2014 Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez will play in behind Falcao. He scored six goals in five games at the last World Cup. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more And the squads in full: Colombia squad Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Arsenal), Camilo Vargas (AC Deportivo Cali), Jose Fernando Cuadrado (CD Once Caldas). Defenders: Cristian Zapata (AC Milan), Oscar Murillo (CF Pachuca), Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven), Yerry Mina (Barcelona), Johan Mojica (Girona FC), Frank Fabra (CA Boca Juniors), Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham Hotspur). Midfielders: Wilmar Barrios (CA Boca Juniors), Carlos Sanchez (RCD Espanyol), Abel Aguilar (AC Deportivo Cali), James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich), Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Juventus), Mateus Uribe (Club America), Jefferson Lerma (Levante), Juan Fernando Quintero (CA River Plate). James Rodriguez will be key for Colombia Credit: AP Forwards: Carlos Bacca (Villarreal), Radamel Falcao Garcia (Monaco), Luis Muriel (Sevilla), Miguel Borja (SE Palmeiras), Jose Izquierdo (Brighton & Hove Albion). Japan squad Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Metz), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka), Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol). Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo (Galatasaray), Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds), Wataru Endo (Urawa Reds), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Hiroki Sakai (Marseille), Gotoku Sakai (Hamburg), Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers), Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers). Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt), Keisuke Honda (Pachuca), Takashi Inui (Eibar), Shinji Kagawa (Dortmund), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Genki Haraguchi (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Takashi Usami (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe), Ryota Oshima (Kawasaki Frontale). Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Leicester), Yuya Osako (Werder Bremen), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz). What's the latest news on the two teams? Earthquake back home adds to Japan's worries Japan has not had the best of preparations for the World Cup in Russia, and news of an earthquake back home added to their worries on Monday, while a false hotel alarm a day before their opener against Colombia did little to help settle the team. The four-time Asian champions, who also face Senegal and Poland, have undergone a turbulent 10 months since qualifying, culminating in the firing of Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic, the former Algeria coach, in April after a string of poor results. Japan's players in training on the eve of the game Credit: Getty images Former technical director Akira Nishino, who played as a midfielder for the national side, was named to lead the Samurai Blue in Russia, and has been in charge for just three games in the leadup to the tournament. The team woke up to the news on Monday that Osaka, Japan's second-biggest metropolis, was hit by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake in the early hours, killing three people and injuring dozens. "There were players who were a bit shocked by this incident and they were concerned about relatives and family members," Nishino told reporters ahead of Japan's Group H opener at the Mordovia Arena. "They were concerned, so this psychological impact is something I am a bit worried about. But we, the team staff, are consulting with them and hope they will settle down." What are the odds? Colombia win - 8/11 Draw - 13/5 Japan win - 5/1 What's our prediction? Colombia are rightly favourites to win, and although Japan have quality sprinkled across their first team, the South Americans should just have that bit too much star quality. Prediction: Colombia 3 Japan 1 WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018, Colombia vs Japan: What time is kick-off, what TV channel is it on and what is our prediction?
What is it? This match sees Colombia and Japan make their bow at the World Cup 2018, as Group H - the last of the eight groups, finally gets under way. When is it? Tuesday 19 June - ie today. What time is kick-off? 1pm UK time. What TV channel is it on? BBC One. Alternatively, you can follow the match live with us on Telegraph Sport. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game Where is the game being played? At the Mordovia Arena in Saransk. World Cup 2018 stadium: Mordovia Arena What is the team news? Premier League fans, there are familiar faces on both sides here: Arsenal's David Ospina and Tottenham's Davinson Sanchez will be joining forces to guard the Colombia goal, while Chelsea and Manchester United flop Radamel Falcao will lead the line. Another former Chelsea man in Juan Cuadrado should also start. For Japan, Southampton's Maya Yoshida and Leicester's Shinji Okazaki should both start. Former United man Shinji Kagawa will pull the strings in behind Okazaki. And as well as all of that, the biggest star has yet to be mentioned: 2014 Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez will play in behind Falcao. He scored six goals in five games at the last World Cup. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more And the squads in full: Colombia squad Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Arsenal), Camilo Vargas (AC Deportivo Cali), Jose Fernando Cuadrado (CD Once Caldas). Defenders: Cristian Zapata (AC Milan), Oscar Murillo (CF Pachuca), Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven), Yerry Mina (Barcelona), Johan Mojica (Girona FC), Frank Fabra (CA Boca Juniors), Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham Hotspur). Midfielders: Wilmar Barrios (CA Boca Juniors), Carlos Sanchez (RCD Espanyol), Abel Aguilar (AC Deportivo Cali), James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich), Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Juventus), Mateus Uribe (Club America), Jefferson Lerma (Levante), Juan Fernando Quintero (CA River Plate). James Rodriguez will be key for Colombia Credit: AP Forwards: Carlos Bacca (Villarreal), Radamel Falcao Garcia (Monaco), Luis Muriel (Sevilla), Miguel Borja (SE Palmeiras), Jose Izquierdo (Brighton & Hove Albion). Japan squad Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Metz), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka), Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol). Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo (Galatasaray), Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds), Wataru Endo (Urawa Reds), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Hiroki Sakai (Marseille), Gotoku Sakai (Hamburg), Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers), Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers). Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt), Keisuke Honda (Pachuca), Takashi Inui (Eibar), Shinji Kagawa (Dortmund), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Genki Haraguchi (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Takashi Usami (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe), Ryota Oshima (Kawasaki Frontale). Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Leicester), Yuya Osako (Werder Bremen), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz). What's the latest news on the two teams? Earthquake back home adds to Japan's worries Japan has not had the best of preparations for the World Cup in Russia, and news of an earthquake back home added to their worries on Monday, while a false hotel alarm a day before their opener against Colombia did little to help settle the team. The four-time Asian champions, who also face Senegal and Poland, have undergone a turbulent 10 months since qualifying, culminating in the firing of Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic, the former Algeria coach, in April after a string of poor results. Japan's players in training on the eve of the game Credit: Getty images Former technical director Akira Nishino, who played as a midfielder for the national side, was named to lead the Samurai Blue in Russia, and has been in charge for just three games in the leadup to the tournament. The team woke up to the news on Monday that Osaka, Japan's second-biggest metropolis, was hit by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake in the early hours, killing three people and injuring dozens. "There were players who were a bit shocked by this incident and they were concerned about relatives and family members," Nishino told reporters ahead of Japan's Group H opener at the Mordovia Arena. "They were concerned, so this psychological impact is something I am a bit worried about. But we, the team staff, are consulting with them and hope they will settle down." What are the odds? Colombia win - 8/11 Draw - 13/5 Japan win - 5/1 What's our prediction? Colombia are rightly favourites to win, and although Japan have quality sprinkled across their first team, the South Americans should just have that bit too much star quality. Prediction: Colombia 3 Japan 1 WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
What is it? This match sees Colombia and Japan make their bow at the World Cup 2018, as Group H - the last of the eight groups, finally gets under way. When is it? Tuesday 19 June - ie today. What time is kick-off? 1pm UK time. What TV channel is it on? BBC One. Alternatively, you can follow the match live with us on Telegraph Sport. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game Where is the game being played? At the Mordovia Arena in Saransk. World Cup 2018 stadium: Mordovia Arena What is the team news? Premier League fans, there are familiar faces on both sides here: Arsenal's David Ospina and Tottenham's Davinson Sanchez will be joining forces to guard the Colombia goal, while Chelsea and Manchester United flop Radamel Falcao will lead the line. Another former Chelsea man in Juan Cuadrado should also start. For Japan, Southampton's Maya Yoshida and Leicester's Shinji Okazaki should both start. Former United man Shinji Kagawa will pull the strings in behind Okazaki. And as well as all of that, the biggest star has yet to be mentioned: 2014 Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez will play in behind Falcao. He scored six goals in five games at the last World Cup. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more And the squads in full: Colombia squad Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Arsenal), Camilo Vargas (AC Deportivo Cali), Jose Fernando Cuadrado (CD Once Caldas). Defenders: Cristian Zapata (AC Milan), Oscar Murillo (CF Pachuca), Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven), Yerry Mina (Barcelona), Johan Mojica (Girona FC), Frank Fabra (CA Boca Juniors), Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham Hotspur). Midfielders: Wilmar Barrios (CA Boca Juniors), Carlos Sanchez (RCD Espanyol), Abel Aguilar (AC Deportivo Cali), James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich), Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Juventus), Mateus Uribe (Club America), Jefferson Lerma (Levante), Juan Fernando Quintero (CA River Plate). James Rodriguez will be key for Colombia Credit: AP Forwards: Carlos Bacca (Villarreal), Radamel Falcao Garcia (Monaco), Luis Muriel (Sevilla), Miguel Borja (SE Palmeiras), Jose Izquierdo (Brighton & Hove Albion). Japan squad Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Metz), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka), Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol). Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo (Galatasaray), Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds), Wataru Endo (Urawa Reds), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Hiroki Sakai (Marseille), Gotoku Sakai (Hamburg), Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers), Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers). Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt), Keisuke Honda (Pachuca), Takashi Inui (Eibar), Shinji Kagawa (Dortmund), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Genki Haraguchi (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Takashi Usami (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe), Ryota Oshima (Kawasaki Frontale). Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Leicester), Yuya Osako (Werder Bremen), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz). What's the latest news on the two teams? Earthquake back home adds to Japan's worries Japan has not had the best of preparations for the World Cup in Russia, and news of an earthquake back home added to their worries on Monday, while a false hotel alarm a day before their opener against Colombia did little to help settle the team. The four-time Asian champions, who also face Senegal and Poland, have undergone a turbulent 10 months since qualifying, culminating in the firing of Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic, the former Algeria coach, in April after a string of poor results. Japan's players in training on the eve of the game Credit: Getty images Former technical director Akira Nishino, who played as a midfielder for the national side, was named to lead the Samurai Blue in Russia, and has been in charge for just three games in the leadup to the tournament. The team woke up to the news on Monday that Osaka, Japan's second-biggest metropolis, was hit by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake in the early hours, killing three people and injuring dozens. "There were players who were a bit shocked by this incident and they were concerned about relatives and family members," Nishino told reporters ahead of Japan's Group H opener at the Mordovia Arena. "They were concerned, so this psychological impact is something I am a bit worried about. But we, the team staff, are consulting with them and hope they will settle down." What are the odds? Colombia win - 8/11 Draw - 13/5 Japan win - 5/1 What's our prediction? Colombia are rightly favourites to win, and although Japan have quality sprinkled across their first team, the South Americans should just have that bit too much star quality. Prediction: Colombia 3 Japan 1 WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018, Colombia vs Japan: What time is kick-off, what TV channel is it on and what is our prediction?
What is it? This match sees Colombia and Japan make their bow at the World Cup 2018, as Group H - the last of the eight groups, finally gets under way. When is it? Tuesday 19 June - ie today. What time is kick-off? 1pm UK time. What TV channel is it on? BBC One. Alternatively, you can follow the match live with us on Telegraph Sport. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game Where is the game being played? At the Mordovia Arena in Saransk. World Cup 2018 stadium: Mordovia Arena What is the team news? Premier League fans, there are familiar faces on both sides here: Arsenal's David Ospina and Tottenham's Davinson Sanchez will be joining forces to guard the Colombia goal, while Chelsea and Manchester United flop Radamel Falcao will lead the line. Another former Chelsea man in Juan Cuadrado should also start. For Japan, Southampton's Maya Yoshida and Leicester's Shinji Okazaki should both start. Former United man Shinji Kagawa will pull the strings in behind Okazaki. And as well as all of that, the biggest star has yet to be mentioned: 2014 Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez will play in behind Falcao. He scored six goals in five games at the last World Cup. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more And the squads in full: Colombia squad Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Arsenal), Camilo Vargas (AC Deportivo Cali), Jose Fernando Cuadrado (CD Once Caldas). Defenders: Cristian Zapata (AC Milan), Oscar Murillo (CF Pachuca), Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven), Yerry Mina (Barcelona), Johan Mojica (Girona FC), Frank Fabra (CA Boca Juniors), Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham Hotspur). Midfielders: Wilmar Barrios (CA Boca Juniors), Carlos Sanchez (RCD Espanyol), Abel Aguilar (AC Deportivo Cali), James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich), Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Juventus), Mateus Uribe (Club America), Jefferson Lerma (Levante), Juan Fernando Quintero (CA River Plate). James Rodriguez will be key for Colombia Credit: AP Forwards: Carlos Bacca (Villarreal), Radamel Falcao Garcia (Monaco), Luis Muriel (Sevilla), Miguel Borja (SE Palmeiras), Jose Izquierdo (Brighton & Hove Albion). Japan squad Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Metz), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka), Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol). Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo (Galatasaray), Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds), Wataru Endo (Urawa Reds), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Hiroki Sakai (Marseille), Gotoku Sakai (Hamburg), Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers), Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers). Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt), Keisuke Honda (Pachuca), Takashi Inui (Eibar), Shinji Kagawa (Dortmund), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Genki Haraguchi (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Takashi Usami (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe), Ryota Oshima (Kawasaki Frontale). Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Leicester), Yuya Osako (Werder Bremen), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz). What's the latest news on the two teams? Earthquake back home adds to Japan's worries Japan has not had the best of preparations for the World Cup in Russia, and news of an earthquake back home added to their worries on Monday, while a false hotel alarm a day before their opener against Colombia did little to help settle the team. The four-time Asian champions, who also face Senegal and Poland, have undergone a turbulent 10 months since qualifying, culminating in the firing of Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic, the former Algeria coach, in April after a string of poor results. Japan's players in training on the eve of the game Credit: Getty images Former technical director Akira Nishino, who played as a midfielder for the national side, was named to lead the Samurai Blue in Russia, and has been in charge for just three games in the leadup to the tournament. The team woke up to the news on Monday that Osaka, Japan's second-biggest metropolis, was hit by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake in the early hours, killing three people and injuring dozens. "There were players who were a bit shocked by this incident and they were concerned about relatives and family members," Nishino told reporters ahead of Japan's Group H opener at the Mordovia Arena. "They were concerned, so this psychological impact is something I am a bit worried about. But we, the team staff, are consulting with them and hope they will settle down." What are the odds? Colombia win - 8/11 Draw - 13/5 Japan win - 5/1 What's our prediction? Colombia are rightly favourites to win, and although Japan have quality sprinkled across their first team, the South Americans should just have that bit too much star quality. Prediction: Colombia 3 Japan 1 WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Japan's 2018 World Cup squad is thoroughly analysed below. This is your guide to everything you need to know about the players who will be representing their country at the tournament, when their games are taking place, who is in charge of the team, the key men to watch and how they're likely to fare in Russia. To read our comprehensive guide simply register with the Telegraph and log in to your account. Japan's World Cup squad - the 23 names 23-man final squad: Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Metz), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka), Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol). Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo (Galatasaray), Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds), Wataru Endo (Urawa Reds), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Hiroki Sakai (Marseille), Gotoku Sakai (Hamburg), Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers), Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers). Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt), Keisuke Honda (Pachuca), Takashi Inui (Eibar), Shinji Kagawa (Dortmund), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Genki Haraguchi (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Takashi Usami (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe), Ryota Oshima (Kawasaki Frontale). Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Leicester), Yuya Osako (Werder Bremen), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz). SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) Squad, Schedule - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia #footballhttps://t.co/gYocS44u09pic.twitter.com/HTfeLx4YRH— jfa_en (@jfa_en) May 31, 2018 Japan's World Cup 2018 fixtures Colombia: Tuesday, June 19 at 1pm Poland: Sunday, June 24 at 7pm Senegal: Thursday, June 28 at 3pm What odds are Japan to win the World Cup? 200/1 The kits See where Japan's shirts ends up in our ranking of all 64 World Cup shirts below: World Cup kits ranked Who's the coach? Akira Nishino, the former Japan technical director, was parachuted into the job after the abrupt sacking of Vahid Halilhodzic in April. An unknown quantity. Who's the star? Keisuke Honda is still the talisman, and should be happier now Halilhodzic - with whom he had a rocky relationship - is out of the picture. Keisuke Honda in action for Japan Credit: Getty Images Best thing about them Should have noisy and loyal support, and will defend stoutly enough. They will have to. Worst thing about them Compared to recent Japan teams, this is a desperately limited squad - one that needed an injury-time equaliser to draw with Haiti last October. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more You may recognise… The two Shinjis - Kagawa and Okazaki - are both familiar faces for Premier League supporters, and the side’s best players. Cameramen will be picking out… Shots of improbably large groups of fans watching giant screens back home. Fans' favourite chant ‘Vamos Nippon’ is a terrace standard, accompanied by manic bouncing and flag-waving. On-field prediction An early exit, leading to shame-faced public apologies from the Japanese equivalents of Martin Glenn and Dan Ashworth. Off-field prediction The team wins the much-coveted ‘Best Bleached Hair’ award. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Japan World Cup 2018 squad list and team guide
Japan's 2018 World Cup squad is thoroughly analysed below. This is your guide to everything you need to know about the players who will be representing their country at the tournament, when their games are taking place, who is in charge of the team, the key men to watch and how they're likely to fare in Russia. To read our comprehensive guide simply register with the Telegraph and log in to your account. Japan's World Cup squad - the 23 names 23-man final squad: Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Metz), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka), Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol). Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo (Galatasaray), Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds), Wataru Endo (Urawa Reds), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Hiroki Sakai (Marseille), Gotoku Sakai (Hamburg), Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers), Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers). Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt), Keisuke Honda (Pachuca), Takashi Inui (Eibar), Shinji Kagawa (Dortmund), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Genki Haraguchi (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Takashi Usami (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe), Ryota Oshima (Kawasaki Frontale). Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Leicester), Yuya Osako (Werder Bremen), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz). SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) Squad, Schedule - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia #footballhttps://t.co/gYocS44u09pic.twitter.com/HTfeLx4YRH— jfa_en (@jfa_en) May 31, 2018 Japan's World Cup 2018 fixtures Colombia: Tuesday, June 19 at 1pm Poland: Sunday, June 24 at 7pm Senegal: Thursday, June 28 at 3pm What odds are Japan to win the World Cup? 200/1 The kits See where Japan's shirts ends up in our ranking of all 64 World Cup shirts below: World Cup kits ranked Who's the coach? Akira Nishino, the former Japan technical director, was parachuted into the job after the abrupt sacking of Vahid Halilhodzic in April. An unknown quantity. Who's the star? Keisuke Honda is still the talisman, and should be happier now Halilhodzic - with whom he had a rocky relationship - is out of the picture. Keisuke Honda in action for Japan Credit: Getty Images Best thing about them Should have noisy and loyal support, and will defend stoutly enough. They will have to. Worst thing about them Compared to recent Japan teams, this is a desperately limited squad - one that needed an injury-time equaliser to draw with Haiti last October. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more You may recognise… The two Shinjis - Kagawa and Okazaki - are both familiar faces for Premier League supporters, and the side’s best players. Cameramen will be picking out… Shots of improbably large groups of fans watching giant screens back home. Fans' favourite chant ‘Vamos Nippon’ is a terrace standard, accompanied by manic bouncing and flag-waving. On-field prediction An early exit, leading to shame-faced public apologies from the Japanese equivalents of Martin Glenn and Dan Ashworth. Off-field prediction The team wins the much-coveted ‘Best Bleached Hair’ award. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Japan's 2018 World Cup squad is thoroughly analysed below. This is your guide to everything you need to know about the players who will be representing their country at the tournament, when their games are taking place, who is in charge of the team, the key men to watch and how they're likely to fare in Russia. To read our comprehensive guide simply register with the Telegraph and log in to your account. Japan's World Cup squad - the 23 names 23-man final squad: Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Metz), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka), Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol). Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo (Galatasaray), Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds), Wataru Endo (Urawa Reds), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Hiroki Sakai (Marseille), Gotoku Sakai (Hamburg), Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers), Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers). Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt), Keisuke Honda (Pachuca), Takashi Inui (Eibar), Shinji Kagawa (Dortmund), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Genki Haraguchi (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Takashi Usami (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe), Ryota Oshima (Kawasaki Frontale). Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Leicester), Yuya Osako (Werder Bremen), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz). SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) Squad, Schedule - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia #footballhttps://t.co/gYocS44u09pic.twitter.com/HTfeLx4YRH— jfa_en (@jfa_en) May 31, 2018 Japan's World Cup 2018 fixtures Colombia: Tuesday, June 19 at 1pm Poland: Sunday, June 24 at 7pm Senegal: Thursday, June 28 at 3pm What odds are Japan to win the World Cup? 200/1 The kits See where Japan's shirts ends up in our ranking of all 64 World Cup shirts below: World Cup kits ranked Who's the coach? Akira Nishino, the former Japan technical director, was parachuted into the job after the abrupt sacking of Vahid Halilhodzic in April. An unknown quantity. Who's the star? Keisuke Honda is still the talisman, and should be happier now Halilhodzic - with whom he had a rocky relationship - is out of the picture. Keisuke Honda in action for Japan Credit: Getty Images Best thing about them Should have noisy and loyal support, and will defend stoutly enough. They will have to. Worst thing about them Compared to recent Japan teams, this is a desperately limited squad - one that needed an injury-time equaliser to draw with Haiti last October. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more You may recognise… The two Shinjis - Kagawa and Okazaki - are both familiar faces for Premier League supporters, and the side’s best players. Cameramen will be picking out… Shots of improbably large groups of fans watching giant screens back home. Fans' favourite chant ‘Vamos Nippon’ is a terrace standard, accompanied by manic bouncing and flag-waving. On-field prediction An early exit, leading to shame-faced public apologies from the Japanese equivalents of Martin Glenn and Dan Ashworth. Off-field prediction The team wins the much-coveted ‘Best Bleached Hair’ award. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Japan World Cup 2018 squad list and team guide
Japan's 2018 World Cup squad is thoroughly analysed below. This is your guide to everything you need to know about the players who will be representing their country at the tournament, when their games are taking place, who is in charge of the team, the key men to watch and how they're likely to fare in Russia. To read our comprehensive guide simply register with the Telegraph and log in to your account. Japan's World Cup squad - the 23 names 23-man final squad: Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Metz), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka), Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol). Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo (Galatasaray), Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds), Wataru Endo (Urawa Reds), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Hiroki Sakai (Marseille), Gotoku Sakai (Hamburg), Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers), Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers). Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt), Keisuke Honda (Pachuca), Takashi Inui (Eibar), Shinji Kagawa (Dortmund), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Genki Haraguchi (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Takashi Usami (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe), Ryota Oshima (Kawasaki Frontale). Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Leicester), Yuya Osako (Werder Bremen), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz). SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) Squad, Schedule - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia #footballhttps://t.co/gYocS44u09pic.twitter.com/HTfeLx4YRH— jfa_en (@jfa_en) May 31, 2018 Japan's World Cup 2018 fixtures Colombia: Tuesday, June 19 at 1pm Poland: Sunday, June 24 at 7pm Senegal: Thursday, June 28 at 3pm What odds are Japan to win the World Cup? 200/1 The kits See where Japan's shirts ends up in our ranking of all 64 World Cup shirts below: World Cup kits ranked Who's the coach? Akira Nishino, the former Japan technical director, was parachuted into the job after the abrupt sacking of Vahid Halilhodzic in April. An unknown quantity. Who's the star? Keisuke Honda is still the talisman, and should be happier now Halilhodzic - with whom he had a rocky relationship - is out of the picture. Keisuke Honda in action for Japan Credit: Getty Images Best thing about them Should have noisy and loyal support, and will defend stoutly enough. They will have to. Worst thing about them Compared to recent Japan teams, this is a desperately limited squad - one that needed an injury-time equaliser to draw with Haiti last October. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more You may recognise… The two Shinjis - Kagawa and Okazaki - are both familiar faces for Premier League supporters, and the side’s best players. Cameramen will be picking out… Shots of improbably large groups of fans watching giant screens back home. Fans' favourite chant ‘Vamos Nippon’ is a terrace standard, accompanied by manic bouncing and flag-waving. On-field prediction An early exit, leading to shame-faced public apologies from the Japanese equivalents of Martin Glenn and Dan Ashworth. Off-field prediction The team wins the much-coveted ‘Best Bleached Hair’ award. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
What is it? This match sees Colombia and Japan make their bow at the World Cup 2018, as Group H - the last of the eight groups, finally gets under way. When is it? Tuesday 19 June. What time is kick-off? 1pm UK time. What TV channel is it on? BBC One. Alternatively, you can follow the match live with us on Telegraph Sport. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game Where is the game being played? At the Mordovia Arena in Saransk. World Cup 2018 stadium: Mordovia Arena What is the team news? Premier League fans, there are familiar faces on both sides here: Arsenal's David Ospina and Tottenham's Davinson Sanchez will be joining forces to guard the Colombia goal, while Chelsea and Manchester United flop Radamel Falcao will lead the line. Another former Chelsea man in Juan Cuadrado should also start. For Japan, Southampton's Maya Yoshida and Leicester's Shinji Okazaki should both start. Former United man Shinji Kagawa will pull the strings in behind Okazaki. And as well as all of that, the biggest star has yet to be mentioned: 2014 Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez will play in behind Falcao. He scored six goals in five games at the last World Cup. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more And the squads in full: Colombia Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Arsenal), Camilo Vargas (AC Deportivo Cali), Jose Fernando Cuadrado (CD Once Caldas). Defenders: Cristian Zapata (AC Milan), Oscar Murillo (CF Pachuca), Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven), Yerry Mina (Barcelona), Johan Mojica (Girona FC), Frank Fabra (CA Boca Juniors), Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham Hotspur). Midfielders: Wilmar Barrios (CA Boca Juniors), Carlos Sanchez (RCD Espanyol), Abel Aguilar (AC Deportivo Cali), James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich), Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Juventus), Mateus Uribe (Club America), Jefferson Lerma (Levante), Juan Fernando Quintero (CA River Plate). James Rodriguez will be key for Colombia Credit: AP Forwards: Carlos Bacca (Villarreal), Radamel Falcao Garcia (Monaco), Luis Muriel (Sevilla), Miguel Borja (SE Palmeiras), Jose Izquierdo (Brighton & Hove Albion). Japan Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Metz), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka), Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol). Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo (Galatasaray), Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds), Wataru Endo (Urawa Reds), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Hiroki Sakai (Marseille), Gotoku Sakai (Hamburg), Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers), Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers). Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt), Keisuke Honda (Pachuca), Takashi Inui (Eibar), Shinji Kagawa (Dortmund), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Genki Haraguchi (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Takashi Usami (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe), Ryota Oshima (Kawasaki Frontale). Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Leicester), Yuya Osako (Werder Bremen), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz). What's the latest news on the two teams? Earthquake back home adds to Japan's worries Japan has not had the best of preparations for the World Cup in Russia, and news of an earthquake back home added to their worries on Monday, while a false hotel alarm a day before their opener against Colombia did little to help settle the team. The four-time Asian champions, who also face Senegal and Poland, have undergone a turbulent 10 months since qualifying, culminating in the firing of Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic, the former Algeria coach, in April after a string of poor results. Japan's players in training on the eve of the game Credit: Getty images Former technical director Akira Nishino, who played as a midfielder for the national side, was named to lead the Samurai Blue in Russia, and has been in charge for just three games in the leadup to the tournament. The team woke up to the news on Monday that Osaka, Japan's second-biggest metropolis, was hit by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake in the early hours, killing three people and injuring dozens. "There were players who were a bit shocked by this incident and they were concerned about relatives and family members," Nishino told reporters ahead of Japan's Group H opener at the Mordovia Arena. "They were concerned, so this psychological impact is something I am a bit worried about. But we, the team staff, are consulting with them and hope they will settle down." What are the odds? Colombia win - 8/11 Draw - 13/5 Japan win - 5/1 What's our prediction? Colombia are rightly favourites to win, and although Japan have quality sprinkled across their first team, the South Americans should just have that bit too much star quality. Prediction: Colombia 3 Japan 1 WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
World Cup 2018, Colombia vs Japan: What time is kick-off tomorrow, what TV channel is it on and what is our prediction?
What is it? This match sees Colombia and Japan make their bow at the World Cup 2018, as Group H - the last of the eight groups, finally gets under way. When is it? Tuesday 19 June. What time is kick-off? 1pm UK time. What TV channel is it on? BBC One. Alternatively, you can follow the match live with us on Telegraph Sport. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game Where is the game being played? At the Mordovia Arena in Saransk. World Cup 2018 stadium: Mordovia Arena What is the team news? Premier League fans, there are familiar faces on both sides here: Arsenal's David Ospina and Tottenham's Davinson Sanchez will be joining forces to guard the Colombia goal, while Chelsea and Manchester United flop Radamel Falcao will lead the line. Another former Chelsea man in Juan Cuadrado should also start. For Japan, Southampton's Maya Yoshida and Leicester's Shinji Okazaki should both start. Former United man Shinji Kagawa will pull the strings in behind Okazaki. And as well as all of that, the biggest star has yet to be mentioned: 2014 Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez will play in behind Falcao. He scored six goals in five games at the last World Cup. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more And the squads in full: Colombia Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Arsenal), Camilo Vargas (AC Deportivo Cali), Jose Fernando Cuadrado (CD Once Caldas). Defenders: Cristian Zapata (AC Milan), Oscar Murillo (CF Pachuca), Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven), Yerry Mina (Barcelona), Johan Mojica (Girona FC), Frank Fabra (CA Boca Juniors), Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham Hotspur). Midfielders: Wilmar Barrios (CA Boca Juniors), Carlos Sanchez (RCD Espanyol), Abel Aguilar (AC Deportivo Cali), James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich), Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Juventus), Mateus Uribe (Club America), Jefferson Lerma (Levante), Juan Fernando Quintero (CA River Plate). James Rodriguez will be key for Colombia Credit: AP Forwards: Carlos Bacca (Villarreal), Radamel Falcao Garcia (Monaco), Luis Muriel (Sevilla), Miguel Borja (SE Palmeiras), Jose Izquierdo (Brighton & Hove Albion). Japan Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Metz), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka), Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol). Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo (Galatasaray), Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds), Wataru Endo (Urawa Reds), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Hiroki Sakai (Marseille), Gotoku Sakai (Hamburg), Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers), Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers). Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt), Keisuke Honda (Pachuca), Takashi Inui (Eibar), Shinji Kagawa (Dortmund), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Genki Haraguchi (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Takashi Usami (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe), Ryota Oshima (Kawasaki Frontale). Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Leicester), Yuya Osako (Werder Bremen), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz). What's the latest news on the two teams? Earthquake back home adds to Japan's worries Japan has not had the best of preparations for the World Cup in Russia, and news of an earthquake back home added to their worries on Monday, while a false hotel alarm a day before their opener against Colombia did little to help settle the team. The four-time Asian champions, who also face Senegal and Poland, have undergone a turbulent 10 months since qualifying, culminating in the firing of Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic, the former Algeria coach, in April after a string of poor results. Japan's players in training on the eve of the game Credit: Getty images Former technical director Akira Nishino, who played as a midfielder for the national side, was named to lead the Samurai Blue in Russia, and has been in charge for just three games in the leadup to the tournament. The team woke up to the news on Monday that Osaka, Japan's second-biggest metropolis, was hit by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake in the early hours, killing three people and injuring dozens. "There were players who were a bit shocked by this incident and they were concerned about relatives and family members," Nishino told reporters ahead of Japan's Group H opener at the Mordovia Arena. "They were concerned, so this psychological impact is something I am a bit worried about. But we, the team staff, are consulting with them and hope they will settle down." What are the odds? Colombia win - 8/11 Draw - 13/5 Japan win - 5/1 What's our prediction? Colombia are rightly favourites to win, and although Japan have quality sprinkled across their first team, the South Americans should just have that bit too much star quality. Prediction: Colombia 3 Japan 1 WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Aleksandar Kolarov produced a ­moment of captain’s inspiration, curling home a superb free-kick as Serbia got their Group E campaign up and running on Sunday. The former Manchester City full-back had appeared to be injured in the warm-up but recovered to curl in the winner against Costa Rica. Serbia had dominated the match but chances were at a premium 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 lifted a weight from coach Mladen Krstajic, in what was his first competitive game. “There was a great deal of pressure on the team, and on me, over the past seven months,” said Krstajic, who took the job in October. Krstajic’s relief was matched in equal measure by the disappointment of Oscar Ramirez, the Costa Rica manager, whose side are now in a precarious position. “Maybe we have lost a certain margin for qualifying,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult, but our intention remains the same. I told the lads ‘This isn’t over’.” Aleksandar Kolarov struck a wonderful free-kick to win all three points for Serbia Credit: REUTERS If Costa Rica are going to recover, they will need to rediscover the defensive organisation and clinical counter-attacks that propelled them to the quarter-finals four years ago. Serbia found it hard to break them down, but they rarely looked troubled at the back and, barring a late half-chance for substitute Joel Campbell, they coasted through the game. The match began in furious ­fashion, with Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic having a header scooped off the line and Costa Rica’s Giancarlo Gonzalez failing to convert two headed chances. But it soon 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. Mitrovic failed to find the net with a good chance early in the second half, but it mattered little when Kolarov, the AS Roma left-back, produced his moment of magic, curling a free kick, left-footed, over the wall and past the despairing dive of Navas. “It is great to have three points, but we are not finished. I don’t want to do the maths yet,” Kolarov said. Match details Costa Rica (3-4-3): Navas (Real Madrid) 7; Gamboa (Celtic) 6, Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas) 6, Gonzalez (Bologna) 6; Duarte (Espanyol) 6, Calvo (Minnesota) 7, Venegas (Saprissa) 6, Guzman (Portland) 6; Borges (Coruna) 6, Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon) 6, Urena (Los Angeles) 5. Subs: Campbell (Arsenal) for Urena 73, Bolanos (Saprissa) for Venegas 60, Colindres (Saprissa) for Guzman 73. Booked: Guzman, Calvo. Serbia (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic (Partizan) 6; Ivanovic (Zenit) 6, Tosic (Besiktas) 6, Milenkovic (Fiorentina) 6, Kolarov (Roma) 7; Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) 8, Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) 6; Matic (Man Utd) 6, Ljajic (Torino) 7, Tadic (Southampton) 6; Mitrovic (Newcastle) 6. Subs: Kostic (Hamburg) for Ljajic 70, Rukavina (Villarreal) for Tadic 83, Prijovic (PAOK) for Mitrovic 90. Booked: Prijovic. Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal). 3:08PM Some full-time stats for you After losing five consecutive World Cup games between 1998 and 2010, Serbia have since won two of their last three in the competition (L1). Serbia have won their opening game at a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1998, when they did so as Yugoslavia against Iran (1-0). Serbia have now won all four of their World Cup games against teams from the CONCACAF region, with the first three of those coming as Yugoslavia between 1950 and 1998. Costa Rica suffered their first defeat at the World Cup since 2006 (1-2 v Poland), ending a run of five games unbeaten in the competition (W2 D3). And my favourite of all: Aleksandar Kolarov’s goal for Serbia was the third direct free-kick scored at this year’s World Cup (after Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo), which is already as many as there were in the entire 2014 tournament in Brazil. 3:05PM Next up It's Germany vs Mexico! Join Alan Tyers in our World Cup liveblog as he brings you the team news, updates and analysis from the match. 3:05PM The referee separating the players Credit: GETTY IMAGES This is that little rammy towards the end when Matic went nuts. It looks like the Costa Rica nine, Colindres, puts a full on slap on a Serbia player. Could be a red card, might not. I'd argue that the players are just getting fired up late on - if it had been earlier in the game then it would have been in the ref's interests to sort things out further. 3:02PM Who stood out there then? Let's do some player ratings. Costa Rica (3-4-3 / 5-4-1) Navas 7, Gamboa 6, Acosta 6, González 6, Duarte 6, Calvo 7, Venegas 6, Guzmán 6, Borges 6, Ruiz 6, Ureña 5 Serbia (4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2) Stojkovic 6, Ivanovic 6, Tosic 6, Milenkovic 6, Kolarov 7, Milinkovic-Savic 8, Milivojevic 6, Matic 6, Ljajic 6, Tadic 7, Mitrovic 5 2:58PM Analysis Average touch positions (full time) A game of one half. Specifically the right for Serbia and left for Costa Rica. Passes kept going down the one side of the pitch. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:55PM FULL TIME Credit: AFP And that's it! Serbia get a deserved win against a spirited Costa Rica. Kolarov's free-kick was a thing of wonder and has won the points. 2:54PM 90 mins +7 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 More controversy here. Prijovic has caught someone off the ball with his forearm and Acosta throws himself to the floor. Is this a red card? The VAR is in use! Aaaaand it's a yellow card. Another good decision (IMO). 2:52PM 90 mins +5 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 VAR time! The referee is reviewing that decision! He wants to see if Matic should be in more trouble... but the VAR says no. Seems fair. Costa Rica keep coming... the ball is hooked in, headed down IT'S A CHANCE FOR BOLANOS! And he's missed from six yards! Thankfully, the linesman calls offside and he is miles ahead of the last man. What a miss though. Dreadful finish. 2:50PM 90 mins +4 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 That's poor from the substitute Rukavina. He loses possession then doesn't try to win it back but now Serbia are on the counter-attack, with men over! And the ball's been lost. And now Matic is involved with the bench! He's getting all fired up needlessly with the Costa Rica staff. 2:49PM 90 mins +3 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick 40 yards out, hit it in the area and it;s headed away. Gamboa goes for a distance wondergoal but his long range effort is saved by the goalkeeper easily. 2:47PM 90 mins +1 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 M-Savic has had a superb game. His timing of pass and movement off the ball is excellent. Serbia take Mitrovic off for Prijovic. Serbia come forward again - they have men over! Kostic spots the chance to shoot but blasts over the bar. So many players have been jumping their shots miles over. Practise required. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Filip Kostic, 90 min) 2:45PM 89 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 MITROVIC IS IN AGAIN! And he's wasted the chance again! Oh my word. He's so very nearly a great player - gets in the right positions, is strong but his finishing isn't all that. And here he gets into the box, slows down to wait for the ball to roll ahead of his body and the Costa Rica defender goes down. Mitrovic goes down too but I suspect that's more a problem of balance than an actual foul. No VAR for this incident. 2:43PM 87 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Stojkovic gets someone to help him tie his shoelaces. Cunning time-wasting tactic? Or cruel window into a life spent never learning to tie shoelaces? Only he really knows. 2:41PM 85 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica are now focusing most of their play down the right, targeting Kolarov. Nothing's coming off at the moment now, they're running out of ideas. 2:39PM 82 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell's been lively since coming on but you can kind of tell he's not played much recently. A half yard off the pace on the ball has given Serbia defenders opportunity to rob him of possession. Rukavina comes on for Tadic, which is almost certainly to give Ivanovic back-up at right-back. It might mean a 5-4-1 for Serbia. 2:36PM 80 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell tries to work space for a shot on the edge of the area but is blocked. M-Savic pulls off another beautiful bit of skill to take the ball round the outside of a midfielder and puts Serbia on the attack. They're starting to look a little tired now... 2:35PM 78 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: TASS Ooooh that should be 2-0. Tadic gets in behind on the right and squares the pass into the six yard box. Navas dives at it, gets a tiny flick on it and Kostic has a side foot to finish in an empty net. He gets it all wrong though and the net is unharmed. 2:32PM 76 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Colindres comes on for Guzman, which means Costa Rica have used all their substitutions up. Serbia fire some passes together and link well. M-Savic has the chance to shoot 25 yards out, takes the chance but balloons his effort way over the bar. 2:30PM 74 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell is in behind! There's a lucky deflection and Campbell gets ahead of Milenkovic but just isn't sharp enough to beat him to the ball and get a shot away. Corner. The goalie comes to get the cross but is nowhere near it. Like someone's thrown a scarecrow into the air at the ball. Serbia survive and Mitrovic shields the ball high up the pitch. 2:29PM 72 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica free-kick wide left... Campbell takes it and a Serbian head puts it clear. Kostic tries to break but the ball goes out of play, Serbia go back to their 4-4-1-1 shape and get behind the ball. 2:27PM 70 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell goes on a little dribble into the box but Ljajic puts in a great tackle and wins the ball. Costa Rica in a clear 3-4-3 now and making much snappier passes. Now Serbia are taking their turn to defend with blocks of four. Ljajic comes off for Kostic. 2:24PM 68 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Here comes Joel Campbell! Urena heads off. Look at the difference in possession now! Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:22PM 66 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES What a photo that is! The ball smashing into the back of the net from Kolarov's free-kick. Serbia have dropped really deep now they're 1-0 up... I wonder whether the best form of defence might actually be attacking Costa Rica more. They're inviting trouble like this. 2:20PM 64 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 1 - Kolarov has been the first Serbian player to score from direct free kick at the WC since Sinisa Mihajlovic v Iran on 14 June 1998 (including Yugoslavia). Southpaw. pic.twitter.com/yLePjJ0cmn— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 17, 2018 Costa Rica taking the game to Serbia now and Serbia are dropping further and further back. 2:18PM 62 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick in the final third but Serbia defend deep and head away. Costa Rica trying to get back into the game straight away. You're at your most vulnerable just after scoring goes the old saying. 2:16PM 60 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Serbia have the momentum now. Ljajic makes a run ahead of the defence and just can't get on the end of a chipped pass from Tadic. Will Costa Rica come out of their defensive shell now? 2:13PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! WHAT A HIT! KOLAVOC HAS SCORED! Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Aleksandar Kolarov, 56 min) Navas had absolutely no chance! It's a perfect free-kick, curled over the wall with power into the top corner. Goal: Serbia ( 56 min ) Unstoppable. 2:13PM 56 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win another free-kick in a dangerous area. Kolarov can shoot from here and seems to be lining one up. 2:12PM 55 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic gets a head on the ball as Duarte grabs hold of him in full view of the referee. Consistency in refereeing? There's not an awful lot of difference between that incident and the one yesterday that resulted in a penalty for Argentina. 2:11PM 54 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia enjoying more of the ball here. Kolarov curls a cross to the box and wins a corner as Calvo heads away at the back post. The referee has to sort out some pushing and pulling in the area. 2:09PM 52 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia are stretching the pitch and attacking through the middle more now. Although another cross from wide is collected from Navas. 2:08PM 50 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 HUGE MISS! Mitrovic breaks the offside trap, is one on one with Navas and his shot is terrible. Navas saves well but Mitrovic has to score there. What a massive moment that could prove to be. 2:07PM 49 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are on the right (light blue), Serbia the left (dark blue). 2:03PM 47 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic comes back to help out Ivanovic early on as Bryan Ruiz skins him on the left wing. No change of tactic here then. 2:02PM KICK-OFF 2 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica start the second half. We're back! 2:00PM Next up World Cup 2018 tactics: Why Germany's goalkeeper is key to how they attack Don't forget that after this game is Germany vs Mexico! You can join Alan Tyers in our liveblog coverage of that once this match is over. And not a moment sooner! Don't leave me. Please. 1:57PM Serbia's strikers Check the starting position of Milinkovic-Savic in possession. He's a central striker! Patrice Evra on him being linked with Man Utd: "You need to be a character, a personality. I'm afraid now you miss players playing for the passion. If you said 20 years ago Patrice you play for Manchester United and you don't even get paid, you do it." Doesn't really answer the question but I think I know what I mean. At least he hasn't literally applauded Aluko's football knowledge with this answer. 1:49PM Serbia's very attacking average positions That's a 2-4-4! Love it. Average touch positions (42 min) Look at the near-comical focus on one particular side of the pitch. Poor Ivanovic, he'll be knackered at the end of this. 1:47PM HALF TIME - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Thoroughly entertaining stuff there. Costa Rica targeting Ivanovic down the left and relying on quick counter-attacks, while Serbia have done well without really taking advantage of all their possession. Where there's Mitrovic there's a chance and Milinkovic-Savic has turned up in dangerous areas too. I can see a goal or two in the second half. 1:46PM 45 mins +1 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Borges should be booked for pulling Ljajic back just as he was about to get Serbia moving in the Costa Rica half... but Mitrovic is penalised for a tiny nudge on the back of Gonzalez. 1:44PM 44 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 MILINKOVIC-SAVIC BICYLE KICK! Saved by Navas! Wow. That would have been something else! Ivanovic chips into the box, the Lazio man goes for the spectacular, the linesman says he's offside. He isn't, so that goal would have counted if it had gone in. 1:42PM 42 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are enjoying the ball for a while. They've been on the back foot for quite a lot of the game so far, though this possession stat feels like it's way off. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia Calvo cuts inside from the left once more and tries a shot on his right foot... but drags it wide of the near post. Out: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Francisco Calvo, 42 min) 1:40PM 40 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ohhhh there's a slip in the Serbia defence by Tosic and it's given Costa Rica a chance to shoot. Urena takes it... but that's miles away. Calvo then wins a corner off Ivanovic, who isn't being given any peace. 1:37PM 38 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Both players appear OK to continue after a pause in play. What a collision that was though. Like a train battering into... another train. Or a Costa Rica defender. Anyway, they're alright. 1:35PM 36 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic wins a free-kick right in the corner. The big lads come up for the set piece, which Kolarov will whip in as in in-swinger. Navas Superman throws himself at it and punches away and then Tosic batters into Acosta while going for a header and both are in a lot of pain. 1:34PM 34 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ivanovic over-hits an early cross from wide right and puts it out for a goal kick. Costa Rica have been impressive with how they stop Serbia's build-up play. By blocking the passing option, Serbia don't really have anywhere to go other than long but are trying to keep the ball in defence until an opportunity to get forward opens up. 1:30PM 31 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are blocking the Serbian passing lanes with three forwards and two midfielders behind them, and it's forcing the defenders to really think about where they move the ball so as not to concede possession in a dangerous counter-attacking area. Once the ball is past the halfway line Costa Rica are a 5-4-1... Serbia need another option. And there it is - the chipped pass to Mitrovic. 1:28PM 29 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Bit chance! Super run off the ball by Milinkovic-Savic but he doesn't get the ball out of his feet as a pass over the top puts him through on goal. A low shot is saved easily by Navas but the offside flag had one anyway. He gets away with that miss. 1:26PM 27 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great take by Tadic. The pass is fired straight at him at pace and he controls and flicks the ball on to keep a move going. It just won't drop for Mitrovic in the area and his shot is blocked. 1:24PM 25 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: AFP Serbia are focusing their attacks through the middle then moving play out to the right wing once in the final third. Costa Rica survive another decent move but Serbia are back in possession. You can see they're favouring that right wing here: Serbia crosses Calvo is the left wing-back and is on a yellow card now too. 1:22PM 23 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica get in down the left again though and... that's a shocking tackle. He doesn't mean to go in as heavy as he does but Calvo is rightly booked for a late slide tackle near the corner on Tadic. That's the sort of challenge you put in for a laugh on Pro Evo. 1:21PM 21 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia switch the play a couple of times but Costa Rica look organised and shift over to deny the space and win possession back. Serbia are getting Tadic deeper with Matic helping out on the right now to make sure Ivanovic isn't exposed. 1:19PM 19 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win a free-kick about 35 yards from goal and this will be aimed towards Mitrovic. The referee has to tell Guzman to stand further back from the kick but doesn't book him. The ball goes in, is headed at the back post... and Costa Rica manage to get it away then drop into their low block. 1:16PM 17 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great save by Navas! Serbia have men over, Ivanovic overlaps down the right and dribbles past his man but Navas blocks the low cross into the area. Serbia might be in again! Tadic chips to the back post for Mitrovic but nobody is following up. Milinkovic-Savic has had a couple of lovely touches in the approach play to both those moves. 1:14PM 15 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic receives the ball on the edge of the box, moves it onto his right foot and shoots but the effort is blocked and Navas catches. Costa Rica attack down the left wing again - they're targeting Ivanovic at right-back. Serbia look ropey at the back here. A dreadful pass forward has nearly gifted Costa Rica the chance to break with an overload but the centre-backs just about to manage to see out the danger. 1:12PM 13 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 FREE HEADER! What a miss! Oh my word. A short corner, the second cross gives Gonzalez a completely free header. Dreadful defending from Serbia - what were they doing there? Total chaos in the second phase of that set piece and Costa Rica should be 1-0 up. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Giancarlo González, 12 min) Gonzalez can't believe he's put that miles over the bar. 1:11PM 11 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Costa Rica are looking to use their pace to take on the full-backs. Ivanovic and Kolarov aren't the young men they once were but still have a bit speed left in the legs - Costa Rica look like they might have the running of them though. Costa Rica win a corner. 1:09PM 9 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are quick and break with three forwards. It's not quite coming together for them in the final third for now but they've been able to run with the ball in Serbia's half a couple of times now. 1:07PM 7 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mitrovic is causing problems with his strength upfront and Serbia are looking for him with long throws and chipped passes. Serbia attack through the middle, the ball drops to Kolarov and he tries a shot from 30 yards but pings it wide of goal. 1:05PM 5 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia get up the pitch and win another corner. Both teams are attacking quickly and it's already entertaining. Serbia can't get space in the area thanks to the close attentions of the Costa Rica defence and Kolarov fouls Gamboa while trying to win the second ball from the corner. Costa Rica go long. 1:03PM 3 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 But now Costa Rica are in! Urena gets in behind the defence after a Ruiz pass puts him there and he wins a corner! Mitrovic is back defending now and powers a header away from goal. Calvo joins in down the left and hooks a swinging cross into the area and GONZALEZ IS THERE! But his header is straight at the goalkeeper! What a start this is! 1:01PM 2 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia start with the ball and Mitrovic gets a touch inside the area within 30 seconds. Corner. If he'd controlled that properly he was in for a shot from about 10 yards! The corner comes in and it's headed at goal! Navas looks frantic as he hops onto his other foot... but the referee has spotted a foul. The sign of things to come? 1:00PM KICK OFF Here we go! 12:55PM National anthems 12:54PM Here come the players! Costa Rica will be a 5-4-1 and try to keep things tight and take advantage of counter-attack situations while Serbia will be a 4-2-3-1. The wing-backs will get forward, the defence will be protected by Matic and Milivojevic and Milinkovic-Savic will support Mitrovic throughout. 12:47PM Evra's wearing a tin foil hat Paul Pogba's goal against Australia has been taken away from him. It's an own goal now (because it is...) and Evra has just said he wishes people would leave Paul alone. "If it was Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo I wonder if they would take that goal away," he says. Perhaps he's preparing some sort of speech about jet fuel and steel beams for half time. Patrice Evra showing surprise and actually *clapping* Eni Aluko’s analysis... awful, patronising— Omar Chaudhuri (@OmarChaudhuri) June 17, 2018 12:45PM The warm-ups Credit: GETTY IMAGES The players are just finishing their warm-ups and soon they'll be out on the pitch ready to put on a spectacle. Kolarov was holding his knee for a bit of it but I'm not sure if he's picked up a knock or something during his little pre-match routine. Now, if you'd like to get updates sent to your phone on Whatsapp, sign up for this thing we have here: World Cup whatsapp promo It keeps you up to date with all the news and scores from the games. 12:39PM Take care of the ball and the ball will take care of you Vladimir Stojkovic �� Serbia’s goalkeeper kisses the ball after every save he makes! #SRB#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/JEjD9gYCu8— Kay Murray (@KayLMurray) June 17, 2018 12:38PM Evra is impressed by a woman knowing football "Wow I'm really impressed, she knows more about the game than us," says Evra, in a somewhat* patronising way to Eni Aluko. Do your research pal. ITV have been pretty good at getting their pundits well read before going on air to be fair. Aluko has been explaining what makes Milinkovic-Savic such a threat, detailing his ability to play with the ball at feet but that he's also great at attacking and will support Mitrovic throughout today's game. *incredibly. 12:33PM The current and ex-pros' opinions "They're a strong defensive team but they don't score a lot of goals," says Eni Aluko of Costa Rica. Henrik Larsson and Patrice Evra make up the rest of ITV's pundits bench today. That's a strong lineup. 12:27PM Ivanovic becomes Serbia's all-time most capped player Credit: FIFA Today is his 104th cap, so assuming nothing changes before kick-off he will become the most capped player in the history of Serbia, surpassing Dejan Stankovic. But the real question is how tall is he compared to Mel from Mel and Sue? At 6 feet tall that makes him 1.something Mels from Mel and Sue. 12:24PM Inside the dressing rooms Credit: FIFA Credit: FIFA 12:22PM Our lovely new columnist Cesc Fabregas has joined our writing team for the World Cup and his first couple of columns are already up on the website. You can read his thoughts on Raheem Sterling here. Cesc Fabregas column: England's Raheem Sterling can deliver on the biggest stage 12:17PM Star players to look out for Keylor Navas is by far and away the best player on this Costa Rica team and according to my handy Football Manager database app (their database is used as a scouting tool by top level clubs around the world...), with an average rating of 81 he's way ahead of Borges and Campbell, both rated at 69. Bryan Ruiz shares the same rating... and then everything goes a bit south from there. Serbia meanwhile have some of the most highly rated young players in the world. Predrag Rajkovic is on the bench but at a base level 67 is expected to be about an 85 at some point in his career. I realise some of you might think I'm talking nonsense using a video game's database but their hit rate and accuracy is awesome. Matic - 78, Milinkovic-Savic -78, Adem Ljajic - 72, Aleksandar Kolarov -73... I think you get the idea. If Serbia can work their way around the Costa Rica low block and avoid making any particularly silly mistakes, they should really win this. 12:06PM Those teams in written form Costa Rica (3-5-2 / 5-4-1) Navas, Gamboa, Acosta, González, Duarte, Calvo, Venegas, Guzmán, Borges, Ruiz, Ureña Serbia (4-2-3-1) Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Tosic, Milenkovic, Kolarov, Milinkovic-Savic, Milivojevic, Matic, Ljajic, Tadic, Mitrovic Got to think Serbia are missing a trick leaving all the Football Manager wonderkids out. Zivkovic and Rajkovic on the bench? What is this - amateur hour? pic.twitter.com/LiPrSQumMX— JJ Bull (@jj_bull) June 17, 2018 12:00PM Starting lineups 10 'ic' and one Kolarov: Who's ready for the first match of the day? Here are the teams for #CRCSRB ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/np2DCvEQ78— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 17, 2018 11:59AM The best kits World Cup kits ranked 11:47AM Where is today's game? Well that would be the Samara Arena of course: World Cup 2018 stadium: Samara Arena And as we all know [looks down at phone] it is is the sixth largest city in Russia. This is what the stadium looks like.: Credit: FIFA And the inside is even cooler: Credit: REUTERS 11:40AM Welcome! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for Costa Rica vs Serbia, a match which should be really entertaining and one I'm looking forward to. Yesterday was another brilliant day of World Cup football notable for featuring several high profile VAR moments - it seems like having that extra help has really allowed referees to make some attack-minded decisions and goals make games great. So what to expect today? Serbia have the better (arguably - and I will argue it) group of players with several wonderkids supplemented by hardworking others. Nemanja Matic can run the midfield, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is one of the hottest prospects in football and Dusan Tadic is guaranteed to create chances to score. “As far as this story about me lacking experience, I don’t have any problem because I am working with professional players who prove themselves in clubs across Europe,” their manager Mladen Krstajic said. “My conscience is clear because we are working really well and have been together for three weeks. These are things that make me happy. “We have to be focused, responsible. When I met my squad for the first time I said let's relax, be friends off the pitch, but when comes to matches, everyone has to be responsible.” Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players In the red corner, Costa Rica aren't quite so strong but do have Keylor Navas in goal. You know, the Real Madrid guy. Yeh, him. Other than that, Arsenal's eternally nomadic loanee Joel Campbell is perhaps their best bet of getting a result with Celso Borges the most likely to set someone up for a goal. They didn't impress at all in defeat to England recently and were hammered by Belgium too - today is a massive test. Team news should be with us soon and I'll endeavour to bring you that as well as all the build-up and then analysis of the live action. Stick around to join in the fun.
Aleksandar Kolarov scores sensational free-kick as Serbia claim hard-fought World Cup 2018 win against Costa Rica
Aleksandar Kolarov produced a ­moment of captain’s inspiration, curling home a superb free-kick as Serbia got their Group E campaign up and running on Sunday. The former Manchester City full-back had appeared to be injured in the warm-up but recovered to curl in the winner against Costa Rica. Serbia had dominated the match but chances were at a premium 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 lifted a weight from coach Mladen Krstajic, in what was his first competitive game. “There was a great deal of pressure on the team, and on me, over the past seven months,” said Krstajic, who took the job in October. Krstajic’s relief was matched in equal measure by the disappointment of Oscar Ramirez, the Costa Rica manager, whose side are now in a precarious position. “Maybe we have lost a certain margin for qualifying,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult, but our intention remains the same. I told the lads ‘This isn’t over’.” Aleksandar Kolarov struck a wonderful free-kick to win all three points for Serbia Credit: REUTERS If Costa Rica are going to recover, they will need to rediscover the defensive organisation and clinical counter-attacks that propelled them to the quarter-finals four years ago. Serbia found it hard to break them down, but they rarely looked troubled at the back and, barring a late half-chance for substitute Joel Campbell, they coasted through the game. The match began in furious ­fashion, with Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic having a header scooped off the line and Costa Rica’s Giancarlo Gonzalez failing to convert two headed chances. But it soon 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. Mitrovic failed to find the net with a good chance early in the second half, but it mattered little when Kolarov, the AS Roma left-back, produced his moment of magic, curling a free kick, left-footed, over the wall and past the despairing dive of Navas. “It is great to have three points, but we are not finished. I don’t want to do the maths yet,” Kolarov said. Match details Costa Rica (3-4-3): Navas (Real Madrid) 7; Gamboa (Celtic) 6, Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas) 6, Gonzalez (Bologna) 6; Duarte (Espanyol) 6, Calvo (Minnesota) 7, Venegas (Saprissa) 6, Guzman (Portland) 6; Borges (Coruna) 6, Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon) 6, Urena (Los Angeles) 5. Subs: Campbell (Arsenal) for Urena 73, Bolanos (Saprissa) for Venegas 60, Colindres (Saprissa) for Guzman 73. Booked: Guzman, Calvo. Serbia (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic (Partizan) 6; Ivanovic (Zenit) 6, Tosic (Besiktas) 6, Milenkovic (Fiorentina) 6, Kolarov (Roma) 7; Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) 8, Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) 6; Matic (Man Utd) 6, Ljajic (Torino) 7, Tadic (Southampton) 6; Mitrovic (Newcastle) 6. Subs: Kostic (Hamburg) for Ljajic 70, Rukavina (Villarreal) for Tadic 83, Prijovic (PAOK) for Mitrovic 90. Booked: Prijovic. Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal). 3:08PM Some full-time stats for you After losing five consecutive World Cup games between 1998 and 2010, Serbia have since won two of their last three in the competition (L1). Serbia have won their opening game at a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1998, when they did so as Yugoslavia against Iran (1-0). Serbia have now won all four of their World Cup games against teams from the CONCACAF region, with the first three of those coming as Yugoslavia between 1950 and 1998. Costa Rica suffered their first defeat at the World Cup since 2006 (1-2 v Poland), ending a run of five games unbeaten in the competition (W2 D3). And my favourite of all: Aleksandar Kolarov’s goal for Serbia was the third direct free-kick scored at this year’s World Cup (after Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo), which is already as many as there were in the entire 2014 tournament in Brazil. 3:05PM Next up It's Germany vs Mexico! Join Alan Tyers in our World Cup liveblog as he brings you the team news, updates and analysis from the match. 3:05PM The referee separating the players Credit: GETTY IMAGES This is that little rammy towards the end when Matic went nuts. It looks like the Costa Rica nine, Colindres, puts a full on slap on a Serbia player. Could be a red card, might not. I'd argue that the players are just getting fired up late on - if it had been earlier in the game then it would have been in the ref's interests to sort things out further. 3:02PM Who stood out there then? Let's do some player ratings. Costa Rica (3-4-3 / 5-4-1) Navas 7, Gamboa 6, Acosta 6, González 6, Duarte 6, Calvo 7, Venegas 6, Guzmán 6, Borges 6, Ruiz 6, Ureña 5 Serbia (4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2) Stojkovic 6, Ivanovic 6, Tosic 6, Milenkovic 6, Kolarov 7, Milinkovic-Savic 8, Milivojevic 6, Matic 6, Ljajic 6, Tadic 7, Mitrovic 5 2:58PM Analysis Average touch positions (full time) A game of one half. Specifically the right for Serbia and left for Costa Rica. Passes kept going down the one side of the pitch. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:55PM FULL TIME Credit: AFP And that's it! Serbia get a deserved win against a spirited Costa Rica. Kolarov's free-kick was a thing of wonder and has won the points. 2:54PM 90 mins +7 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 More controversy here. Prijovic has caught someone off the ball with his forearm and Acosta throws himself to the floor. Is this a red card? The VAR is in use! Aaaaand it's a yellow card. Another good decision (IMO). 2:52PM 90 mins +5 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 VAR time! The referee is reviewing that decision! He wants to see if Matic should be in more trouble... but the VAR says no. Seems fair. Costa Rica keep coming... the ball is hooked in, headed down IT'S A CHANCE FOR BOLANOS! And he's missed from six yards! Thankfully, the linesman calls offside and he is miles ahead of the last man. What a miss though. Dreadful finish. 2:50PM 90 mins +4 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 That's poor from the substitute Rukavina. He loses possession then doesn't try to win it back but now Serbia are on the counter-attack, with men over! And the ball's been lost. And now Matic is involved with the bench! He's getting all fired up needlessly with the Costa Rica staff. 2:49PM 90 mins +3 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick 40 yards out, hit it in the area and it;s headed away. Gamboa goes for a distance wondergoal but his long range effort is saved by the goalkeeper easily. 2:47PM 90 mins +1 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 M-Savic has had a superb game. His timing of pass and movement off the ball is excellent. Serbia take Mitrovic off for Prijovic. Serbia come forward again - they have men over! Kostic spots the chance to shoot but blasts over the bar. So many players have been jumping their shots miles over. Practise required. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Filip Kostic, 90 min) 2:45PM 89 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 MITROVIC IS IN AGAIN! And he's wasted the chance again! Oh my word. He's so very nearly a great player - gets in the right positions, is strong but his finishing isn't all that. And here he gets into the box, slows down to wait for the ball to roll ahead of his body and the Costa Rica defender goes down. Mitrovic goes down too but I suspect that's more a problem of balance than an actual foul. No VAR for this incident. 2:43PM 87 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Stojkovic gets someone to help him tie his shoelaces. Cunning time-wasting tactic? Or cruel window into a life spent never learning to tie shoelaces? Only he really knows. 2:41PM 85 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica are now focusing most of their play down the right, targeting Kolarov. Nothing's coming off at the moment now, they're running out of ideas. 2:39PM 82 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell's been lively since coming on but you can kind of tell he's not played much recently. A half yard off the pace on the ball has given Serbia defenders opportunity to rob him of possession. Rukavina comes on for Tadic, which is almost certainly to give Ivanovic back-up at right-back. It might mean a 5-4-1 for Serbia. 2:36PM 80 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell tries to work space for a shot on the edge of the area but is blocked. M-Savic pulls off another beautiful bit of skill to take the ball round the outside of a midfielder and puts Serbia on the attack. They're starting to look a little tired now... 2:35PM 78 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: TASS Ooooh that should be 2-0. Tadic gets in behind on the right and squares the pass into the six yard box. Navas dives at it, gets a tiny flick on it and Kostic has a side foot to finish in an empty net. He gets it all wrong though and the net is unharmed. 2:32PM 76 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Colindres comes on for Guzman, which means Costa Rica have used all their substitutions up. Serbia fire some passes together and link well. M-Savic has the chance to shoot 25 yards out, takes the chance but balloons his effort way over the bar. 2:30PM 74 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell is in behind! There's a lucky deflection and Campbell gets ahead of Milenkovic but just isn't sharp enough to beat him to the ball and get a shot away. Corner. The goalie comes to get the cross but is nowhere near it. Like someone's thrown a scarecrow into the air at the ball. Serbia survive and Mitrovic shields the ball high up the pitch. 2:29PM 72 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica free-kick wide left... Campbell takes it and a Serbian head puts it clear. Kostic tries to break but the ball goes out of play, Serbia go back to their 4-4-1-1 shape and get behind the ball. 2:27PM 70 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell goes on a little dribble into the box but Ljajic puts in a great tackle and wins the ball. Costa Rica in a clear 3-4-3 now and making much snappier passes. Now Serbia are taking their turn to defend with blocks of four. Ljajic comes off for Kostic. 2:24PM 68 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Here comes Joel Campbell! Urena heads off. Look at the difference in possession now! Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:22PM 66 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES What a photo that is! The ball smashing into the back of the net from Kolarov's free-kick. Serbia have dropped really deep now they're 1-0 up... I wonder whether the best form of defence might actually be attacking Costa Rica more. They're inviting trouble like this. 2:20PM 64 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 1 - Kolarov has been the first Serbian player to score from direct free kick at the WC since Sinisa Mihajlovic v Iran on 14 June 1998 (including Yugoslavia). Southpaw. pic.twitter.com/yLePjJ0cmn— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 17, 2018 Costa Rica taking the game to Serbia now and Serbia are dropping further and further back. 2:18PM 62 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick in the final third but Serbia defend deep and head away. Costa Rica trying to get back into the game straight away. You're at your most vulnerable just after scoring goes the old saying. 2:16PM 60 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Serbia have the momentum now. Ljajic makes a run ahead of the defence and just can't get on the end of a chipped pass from Tadic. Will Costa Rica come out of their defensive shell now? 2:13PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! WHAT A HIT! KOLAVOC HAS SCORED! Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Aleksandar Kolarov, 56 min) Navas had absolutely no chance! It's a perfect free-kick, curled over the wall with power into the top corner. Goal: Serbia ( 56 min ) Unstoppable. 2:13PM 56 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win another free-kick in a dangerous area. Kolarov can shoot from here and seems to be lining one up. 2:12PM 55 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic gets a head on the ball as Duarte grabs hold of him in full view of the referee. Consistency in refereeing? There's not an awful lot of difference between that incident and the one yesterday that resulted in a penalty for Argentina. 2:11PM 54 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia enjoying more of the ball here. Kolarov curls a cross to the box and wins a corner as Calvo heads away at the back post. The referee has to sort out some pushing and pulling in the area. 2:09PM 52 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia are stretching the pitch and attacking through the middle more now. Although another cross from wide is collected from Navas. 2:08PM 50 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 HUGE MISS! Mitrovic breaks the offside trap, is one on one with Navas and his shot is terrible. Navas saves well but Mitrovic has to score there. What a massive moment that could prove to be. 2:07PM 49 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are on the right (light blue), Serbia the left (dark blue). 2:03PM 47 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic comes back to help out Ivanovic early on as Bryan Ruiz skins him on the left wing. No change of tactic here then. 2:02PM KICK-OFF 2 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica start the second half. We're back! 2:00PM Next up World Cup 2018 tactics: Why Germany's goalkeeper is key to how they attack Don't forget that after this game is Germany vs Mexico! You can join Alan Tyers in our liveblog coverage of that once this match is over. And not a moment sooner! Don't leave me. Please. 1:57PM Serbia's strikers Check the starting position of Milinkovic-Savic in possession. He's a central striker! Patrice Evra on him being linked with Man Utd: "You need to be a character, a personality. I'm afraid now you miss players playing for the passion. If you said 20 years ago Patrice you play for Manchester United and you don't even get paid, you do it." Doesn't really answer the question but I think I know what I mean. At least he hasn't literally applauded Aluko's football knowledge with this answer. 1:49PM Serbia's very attacking average positions That's a 2-4-4! Love it. Average touch positions (42 min) Look at the near-comical focus on one particular side of the pitch. Poor Ivanovic, he'll be knackered at the end of this. 1:47PM HALF TIME - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Thoroughly entertaining stuff there. Costa Rica targeting Ivanovic down the left and relying on quick counter-attacks, while Serbia have done well without really taking advantage of all their possession. Where there's Mitrovic there's a chance and Milinkovic-Savic has turned up in dangerous areas too. I can see a goal or two in the second half. 1:46PM 45 mins +1 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Borges should be booked for pulling Ljajic back just as he was about to get Serbia moving in the Costa Rica half... but Mitrovic is penalised for a tiny nudge on the back of Gonzalez. 1:44PM 44 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 MILINKOVIC-SAVIC BICYLE KICK! Saved by Navas! Wow. That would have been something else! Ivanovic chips into the box, the Lazio man goes for the spectacular, the linesman says he's offside. He isn't, so that goal would have counted if it had gone in. 1:42PM 42 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are enjoying the ball for a while. They've been on the back foot for quite a lot of the game so far, though this possession stat feels like it's way off. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia Calvo cuts inside from the left once more and tries a shot on his right foot... but drags it wide of the near post. Out: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Francisco Calvo, 42 min) 1:40PM 40 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ohhhh there's a slip in the Serbia defence by Tosic and it's given Costa Rica a chance to shoot. Urena takes it... but that's miles away. Calvo then wins a corner off Ivanovic, who isn't being given any peace. 1:37PM 38 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Both players appear OK to continue after a pause in play. What a collision that was though. Like a train battering into... another train. Or a Costa Rica defender. Anyway, they're alright. 1:35PM 36 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic wins a free-kick right in the corner. The big lads come up for the set piece, which Kolarov will whip in as in in-swinger. Navas Superman throws himself at it and punches away and then Tosic batters into Acosta while going for a header and both are in a lot of pain. 1:34PM 34 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ivanovic over-hits an early cross from wide right and puts it out for a goal kick. Costa Rica have been impressive with how they stop Serbia's build-up play. By blocking the passing option, Serbia don't really have anywhere to go other than long but are trying to keep the ball in defence until an opportunity to get forward opens up. 1:30PM 31 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are blocking the Serbian passing lanes with three forwards and two midfielders behind them, and it's forcing the defenders to really think about where they move the ball so as not to concede possession in a dangerous counter-attacking area. Once the ball is past the halfway line Costa Rica are a 5-4-1... Serbia need another option. And there it is - the chipped pass to Mitrovic. 1:28PM 29 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Bit chance! Super run off the ball by Milinkovic-Savic but he doesn't get the ball out of his feet as a pass over the top puts him through on goal. A low shot is saved easily by Navas but the offside flag had one anyway. He gets away with that miss. 1:26PM 27 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great take by Tadic. The pass is fired straight at him at pace and he controls and flicks the ball on to keep a move going. It just won't drop for Mitrovic in the area and his shot is blocked. 1:24PM 25 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: AFP Serbia are focusing their attacks through the middle then moving play out to the right wing once in the final third. Costa Rica survive another decent move but Serbia are back in possession. You can see they're favouring that right wing here: Serbia crosses Calvo is the left wing-back and is on a yellow card now too. 1:22PM 23 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica get in down the left again though and... that's a shocking tackle. He doesn't mean to go in as heavy as he does but Calvo is rightly booked for a late slide tackle near the corner on Tadic. That's the sort of challenge you put in for a laugh on Pro Evo. 1:21PM 21 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia switch the play a couple of times but Costa Rica look organised and shift over to deny the space and win possession back. Serbia are getting Tadic deeper with Matic helping out on the right now to make sure Ivanovic isn't exposed. 1:19PM 19 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win a free-kick about 35 yards from goal and this will be aimed towards Mitrovic. The referee has to tell Guzman to stand further back from the kick but doesn't book him. The ball goes in, is headed at the back post... and Costa Rica manage to get it away then drop into their low block. 1:16PM 17 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great save by Navas! Serbia have men over, Ivanovic overlaps down the right and dribbles past his man but Navas blocks the low cross into the area. Serbia might be in again! Tadic chips to the back post for Mitrovic but nobody is following up. Milinkovic-Savic has had a couple of lovely touches in the approach play to both those moves. 1:14PM 15 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic receives the ball on the edge of the box, moves it onto his right foot and shoots but the effort is blocked and Navas catches. Costa Rica attack down the left wing again - they're targeting Ivanovic at right-back. Serbia look ropey at the back here. A dreadful pass forward has nearly gifted Costa Rica the chance to break with an overload but the centre-backs just about to manage to see out the danger. 1:12PM 13 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 FREE HEADER! What a miss! Oh my word. A short corner, the second cross gives Gonzalez a completely free header. Dreadful defending from Serbia - what were they doing there? Total chaos in the second phase of that set piece and Costa Rica should be 1-0 up. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Giancarlo González, 12 min) Gonzalez can't believe he's put that miles over the bar. 1:11PM 11 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Costa Rica are looking to use their pace to take on the full-backs. Ivanovic and Kolarov aren't the young men they once were but still have a bit speed left in the legs - Costa Rica look like they might have the running of them though. Costa Rica win a corner. 1:09PM 9 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are quick and break with three forwards. It's not quite coming together for them in the final third for now but they've been able to run with the ball in Serbia's half a couple of times now. 1:07PM 7 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mitrovic is causing problems with his strength upfront and Serbia are looking for him with long throws and chipped passes. Serbia attack through the middle, the ball drops to Kolarov and he tries a shot from 30 yards but pings it wide of goal. 1:05PM 5 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia get up the pitch and win another corner. Both teams are attacking quickly and it's already entertaining. Serbia can't get space in the area thanks to the close attentions of the Costa Rica defence and Kolarov fouls Gamboa while trying to win the second ball from the corner. Costa Rica go long. 1:03PM 3 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 But now Costa Rica are in! Urena gets in behind the defence after a Ruiz pass puts him there and he wins a corner! Mitrovic is back defending now and powers a header away from goal. Calvo joins in down the left and hooks a swinging cross into the area and GONZALEZ IS THERE! But his header is straight at the goalkeeper! What a start this is! 1:01PM 2 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia start with the ball and Mitrovic gets a touch inside the area within 30 seconds. Corner. If he'd controlled that properly he was in for a shot from about 10 yards! The corner comes in and it's headed at goal! Navas looks frantic as he hops onto his other foot... but the referee has spotted a foul. The sign of things to come? 1:00PM KICK OFF Here we go! 12:55PM National anthems 12:54PM Here come the players! Costa Rica will be a 5-4-1 and try to keep things tight and take advantage of counter-attack situations while Serbia will be a 4-2-3-1. The wing-backs will get forward, the defence will be protected by Matic and Milivojevic and Milinkovic-Savic will support Mitrovic throughout. 12:47PM Evra's wearing a tin foil hat Paul Pogba's goal against Australia has been taken away from him. It's an own goal now (because it is...) and Evra has just said he wishes people would leave Paul alone. "If it was Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo I wonder if they would take that goal away," he says. Perhaps he's preparing some sort of speech about jet fuel and steel beams for half time. Patrice Evra showing surprise and actually *clapping* Eni Aluko’s analysis... awful, patronising— Omar Chaudhuri (@OmarChaudhuri) June 17, 2018 12:45PM The warm-ups Credit: GETTY IMAGES The players are just finishing their warm-ups and soon they'll be out on the pitch ready to put on a spectacle. Kolarov was holding his knee for a bit of it but I'm not sure if he's picked up a knock or something during his little pre-match routine. Now, if you'd like to get updates sent to your phone on Whatsapp, sign up for this thing we have here: World Cup whatsapp promo It keeps you up to date with all the news and scores from the games. 12:39PM Take care of the ball and the ball will take care of you Vladimir Stojkovic �� Serbia’s goalkeeper kisses the ball after every save he makes! #SRB#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/JEjD9gYCu8— Kay Murray (@KayLMurray) June 17, 2018 12:38PM Evra is impressed by a woman knowing football "Wow I'm really impressed, she knows more about the game than us," says Evra, in a somewhat* patronising way to Eni Aluko. Do your research pal. ITV have been pretty good at getting their pundits well read before going on air to be fair. Aluko has been explaining what makes Milinkovic-Savic such a threat, detailing his ability to play with the ball at feet but that he's also great at attacking and will support Mitrovic throughout today's game. *incredibly. 12:33PM The current and ex-pros' opinions "They're a strong defensive team but they don't score a lot of goals," says Eni Aluko of Costa Rica. Henrik Larsson and Patrice Evra make up the rest of ITV's pundits bench today. That's a strong lineup. 12:27PM Ivanovic becomes Serbia's all-time most capped player Credit: FIFA Today is his 104th cap, so assuming nothing changes before kick-off he will become the most capped player in the history of Serbia, surpassing Dejan Stankovic. But the real question is how tall is he compared to Mel from Mel and Sue? At 6 feet tall that makes him 1.something Mels from Mel and Sue. 12:24PM Inside the dressing rooms Credit: FIFA Credit: FIFA 12:22PM Our lovely new columnist Cesc Fabregas has joined our writing team for the World Cup and his first couple of columns are already up on the website. You can read his thoughts on Raheem Sterling here. Cesc Fabregas column: England's Raheem Sterling can deliver on the biggest stage 12:17PM Star players to look out for Keylor Navas is by far and away the best player on this Costa Rica team and according to my handy Football Manager database app (their database is used as a scouting tool by top level clubs around the world...), with an average rating of 81 he's way ahead of Borges and Campbell, both rated at 69. Bryan Ruiz shares the same rating... and then everything goes a bit south from there. Serbia meanwhile have some of the most highly rated young players in the world. Predrag Rajkovic is on the bench but at a base level 67 is expected to be about an 85 at some point in his career. I realise some of you might think I'm talking nonsense using a video game's database but their hit rate and accuracy is awesome. Matic - 78, Milinkovic-Savic -78, Adem Ljajic - 72, Aleksandar Kolarov -73... I think you get the idea. If Serbia can work their way around the Costa Rica low block and avoid making any particularly silly mistakes, they should really win this. 12:06PM Those teams in written form Costa Rica (3-5-2 / 5-4-1) Navas, Gamboa, Acosta, González, Duarte, Calvo, Venegas, Guzmán, Borges, Ruiz, Ureña Serbia (4-2-3-1) Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Tosic, Milenkovic, Kolarov, Milinkovic-Savic, Milivojevic, Matic, Ljajic, Tadic, Mitrovic Got to think Serbia are missing a trick leaving all the Football Manager wonderkids out. Zivkovic and Rajkovic on the bench? What is this - amateur hour? pic.twitter.com/LiPrSQumMX— JJ Bull (@jj_bull) June 17, 2018 12:00PM Starting lineups 10 'ic' and one Kolarov: Who's ready for the first match of the day? Here are the teams for #CRCSRB ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/np2DCvEQ78— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 17, 2018 11:59AM The best kits World Cup kits ranked 11:47AM Where is today's game? Well that would be the Samara Arena of course: World Cup 2018 stadium: Samara Arena And as we all know [looks down at phone] it is is the sixth largest city in Russia. This is what the stadium looks like.: Credit: FIFA And the inside is even cooler: Credit: REUTERS 11:40AM Welcome! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for Costa Rica vs Serbia, a match which should be really entertaining and one I'm looking forward to. Yesterday was another brilliant day of World Cup football notable for featuring several high profile VAR moments - it seems like having that extra help has really allowed referees to make some attack-minded decisions and goals make games great. So what to expect today? Serbia have the better (arguably - and I will argue it) group of players with several wonderkids supplemented by hardworking others. Nemanja Matic can run the midfield, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is one of the hottest prospects in football and Dusan Tadic is guaranteed to create chances to score. “As far as this story about me lacking experience, I don’t have any problem because I am working with professional players who prove themselves in clubs across Europe,” their manager Mladen Krstajic said. “My conscience is clear because we are working really well and have been together for three weeks. These are things that make me happy. “We have to be focused, responsible. When I met my squad for the first time I said let's relax, be friends off the pitch, but when comes to matches, everyone has to be responsible.” Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players In the red corner, Costa Rica aren't quite so strong but do have Keylor Navas in goal. You know, the Real Madrid guy. Yeh, him. Other than that, Arsenal's eternally nomadic loanee Joel Campbell is perhaps their best bet of getting a result with Celso Borges the most likely to set someone up for a goal. They didn't impress at all in defeat to England recently and were hammered by Belgium too - today is a massive test. Team news should be with us soon and I'll endeavour to bring you that as well as all the build-up and then analysis of the live action. Stick around to join in the fun.
Aleksandar Kolarov produced a ­moment of captain’s inspiration, curling home a superb free-kick as Serbia got their Group E campaign up and running on Sunday. The former Manchester City full-back had appeared to be injured in the warm-up but recovered to curl in the winner against Costa Rica. Serbia had dominated the match but chances were at a premium 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 lifted a weight from coach Mladen Krstajic, in what was his first competitive game. “There was a great deal of pressure on the team, and on me, over the past seven months,” said Krstajic, who took the job in October. Krstajic’s relief was matched in equal measure by the disappointment of Oscar Ramirez, the Costa Rica manager, whose side are now in a precarious position. “Maybe we have lost a certain margin for qualifying,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult, but our intention remains the same. I told the lads ‘This isn’t over’.” Aleksandar Kolarov struck a wonderful free-kick to win all three points for Serbia Credit: REUTERS If Costa Rica are going to recover, they will need to rediscover the defensive organisation and clinical counter-attacks that propelled them to the quarter-finals four years ago. Serbia found it hard to break them down, but they rarely looked troubled at the back and, barring a late half-chance for substitute Joel Campbell, they coasted through the game. The match began in furious ­fashion, with Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic having a header scooped off the line and Costa Rica’s Giancarlo Gonzalez failing to convert two headed chances. But it soon 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. Mitrovic failed to find the net with a good chance early in the second half, but it mattered little when Kolarov, the AS Roma left-back, produced his moment of magic, curling a free kick, left-footed, over the wall and past the despairing dive of Navas. “It is great to have three points, but we are not finished. I don’t want to do the maths yet,” Kolarov said. Match details Costa Rica (3-4-3): Navas (Real Madrid) 7; Gamboa (Celtic) 6, Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas) 6, Gonzalez (Bologna) 6; Duarte (Espanyol) 6, Calvo (Minnesota) 7, Venegas (Saprissa) 6, Guzman (Portland) 6; Borges (Coruna) 6, Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon) 6, Urena (Los Angeles) 5. Subs: Campbell (Arsenal) for Urena 73, Bolanos (Saprissa) for Venegas 60, Colindres (Saprissa) for Guzman 73. Booked: Guzman, Calvo. Serbia (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic (Partizan) 6; Ivanovic (Zenit) 6, Tosic (Besiktas) 6, Milenkovic (Fiorentina) 6, Kolarov (Roma) 7; Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) 8, Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) 6; Matic (Man Utd) 6, Ljajic (Torino) 7, Tadic (Southampton) 6; Mitrovic (Newcastle) 6. Subs: Kostic (Hamburg) for Ljajic 70, Rukavina (Villarreal) for Tadic 83, Prijovic (PAOK) for Mitrovic 90. Booked: Prijovic. Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal). 3:08PM Some full-time stats for you After losing five consecutive World Cup games between 1998 and 2010, Serbia have since won two of their last three in the competition (L1). Serbia have won their opening game at a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1998, when they did so as Yugoslavia against Iran (1-0). Serbia have now won all four of their World Cup games against teams from the CONCACAF region, with the first three of those coming as Yugoslavia between 1950 and 1998. Costa Rica suffered their first defeat at the World Cup since 2006 (1-2 v Poland), ending a run of five games unbeaten in the competition (W2 D3). And my favourite of all: Aleksandar Kolarov’s goal for Serbia was the third direct free-kick scored at this year’s World Cup (after Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo), which is already as many as there were in the entire 2014 tournament in Brazil. 3:05PM Next up It's Germany vs Mexico! Join Alan Tyers in our World Cup liveblog as he brings you the team news, updates and analysis from the match. 3:05PM The referee separating the players Credit: GETTY IMAGES This is that little rammy towards the end when Matic went nuts. It looks like the Costa Rica nine, Colindres, puts a full on slap on a Serbia player. Could be a red card, might not. I'd argue that the players are just getting fired up late on - if it had been earlier in the game then it would have been in the ref's interests to sort things out further. 3:02PM Who stood out there then? Let's do some player ratings. Costa Rica (3-4-3 / 5-4-1) Navas 7, Gamboa 6, Acosta 6, González 6, Duarte 6, Calvo 7, Venegas 6, Guzmán 6, Borges 6, Ruiz 6, Ureña 5 Serbia (4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2) Stojkovic 6, Ivanovic 6, Tosic 6, Milenkovic 6, Kolarov 7, Milinkovic-Savic 8, Milivojevic 6, Matic 6, Ljajic 6, Tadic 7, Mitrovic 5 2:58PM Analysis Average touch positions (full time) A game of one half. Specifically the right for Serbia and left for Costa Rica. Passes kept going down the one side of the pitch. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:55PM FULL TIME Credit: AFP And that's it! Serbia get a deserved win against a spirited Costa Rica. Kolarov's free-kick was a thing of wonder and has won the points. 2:54PM 90 mins +7 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 More controversy here. Prijovic has caught someone off the ball with his forearm and Acosta throws himself to the floor. Is this a red card? The VAR is in use! Aaaaand it's a yellow card. Another good decision (IMO). 2:52PM 90 mins +5 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 VAR time! The referee is reviewing that decision! He wants to see if Matic should be in more trouble... but the VAR says no. Seems fair. Costa Rica keep coming... the ball is hooked in, headed down IT'S A CHANCE FOR BOLANOS! And he's missed from six yards! Thankfully, the linesman calls offside and he is miles ahead of the last man. What a miss though. Dreadful finish. 2:50PM 90 mins +4 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 That's poor from the substitute Rukavina. He loses possession then doesn't try to win it back but now Serbia are on the counter-attack, with men over! And the ball's been lost. And now Matic is involved with the bench! He's getting all fired up needlessly with the Costa Rica staff. 2:49PM 90 mins +3 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick 40 yards out, hit it in the area and it;s headed away. Gamboa goes for a distance wondergoal but his long range effort is saved by the goalkeeper easily. 2:47PM 90 mins +1 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 M-Savic has had a superb game. His timing of pass and movement off the ball is excellent. Serbia take Mitrovic off for Prijovic. Serbia come forward again - they have men over! Kostic spots the chance to shoot but blasts over the bar. So many players have been jumping their shots miles over. Practise required. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Filip Kostic, 90 min) 2:45PM 89 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 MITROVIC IS IN AGAIN! And he's wasted the chance again! Oh my word. He's so very nearly a great player - gets in the right positions, is strong but his finishing isn't all that. And here he gets into the box, slows down to wait for the ball to roll ahead of his body and the Costa Rica defender goes down. Mitrovic goes down too but I suspect that's more a problem of balance than an actual foul. No VAR for this incident. 2:43PM 87 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Stojkovic gets someone to help him tie his shoelaces. Cunning time-wasting tactic? Or cruel window into a life spent never learning to tie shoelaces? Only he really knows. 2:41PM 85 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica are now focusing most of their play down the right, targeting Kolarov. Nothing's coming off at the moment now, they're running out of ideas. 2:39PM 82 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell's been lively since coming on but you can kind of tell he's not played much recently. A half yard off the pace on the ball has given Serbia defenders opportunity to rob him of possession. Rukavina comes on for Tadic, which is almost certainly to give Ivanovic back-up at right-back. It might mean a 5-4-1 for Serbia. 2:36PM 80 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell tries to work space for a shot on the edge of the area but is blocked. M-Savic pulls off another beautiful bit of skill to take the ball round the outside of a midfielder and puts Serbia on the attack. They're starting to look a little tired now... 2:35PM 78 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: TASS Ooooh that should be 2-0. Tadic gets in behind on the right and squares the pass into the six yard box. Navas dives at it, gets a tiny flick on it and Kostic has a side foot to finish in an empty net. He gets it all wrong though and the net is unharmed. 2:32PM 76 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Colindres comes on for Guzman, which means Costa Rica have used all their substitutions up. Serbia fire some passes together and link well. M-Savic has the chance to shoot 25 yards out, takes the chance but balloons his effort way over the bar. 2:30PM 74 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell is in behind! There's a lucky deflection and Campbell gets ahead of Milenkovic but just isn't sharp enough to beat him to the ball and get a shot away. Corner. The goalie comes to get the cross but is nowhere near it. Like someone's thrown a scarecrow into the air at the ball. Serbia survive and Mitrovic shields the ball high up the pitch. 2:29PM 72 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica free-kick wide left... Campbell takes it and a Serbian head puts it clear. Kostic tries to break but the ball goes out of play, Serbia go back to their 4-4-1-1 shape and get behind the ball. 2:27PM 70 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell goes on a little dribble into the box but Ljajic puts in a great tackle and wins the ball. Costa Rica in a clear 3-4-3 now and making much snappier passes. Now Serbia are taking their turn to defend with blocks of four. Ljajic comes off for Kostic. 2:24PM 68 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Here comes Joel Campbell! Urena heads off. Look at the difference in possession now! Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:22PM 66 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES What a photo that is! The ball smashing into the back of the net from Kolarov's free-kick. Serbia have dropped really deep now they're 1-0 up... I wonder whether the best form of defence might actually be attacking Costa Rica more. They're inviting trouble like this. 2:20PM 64 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 1 - Kolarov has been the first Serbian player to score from direct free kick at the WC since Sinisa Mihajlovic v Iran on 14 June 1998 (including Yugoslavia). Southpaw. pic.twitter.com/yLePjJ0cmn— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 17, 2018 Costa Rica taking the game to Serbia now and Serbia are dropping further and further back. 2:18PM 62 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick in the final third but Serbia defend deep and head away. Costa Rica trying to get back into the game straight away. You're at your most vulnerable just after scoring goes the old saying. 2:16PM 60 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Serbia have the momentum now. Ljajic makes a run ahead of the defence and just can't get on the end of a chipped pass from Tadic. Will Costa Rica come out of their defensive shell now? 2:13PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! WHAT A HIT! KOLAVOC HAS SCORED! Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Aleksandar Kolarov, 56 min) Navas had absolutely no chance! It's a perfect free-kick, curled over the wall with power into the top corner. Goal: Serbia ( 56 min ) Unstoppable. 2:13PM 56 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win another free-kick in a dangerous area. Kolarov can shoot from here and seems to be lining one up. 2:12PM 55 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic gets a head on the ball as Duarte grabs hold of him in full view of the referee. Consistency in refereeing? There's not an awful lot of difference between that incident and the one yesterday that resulted in a penalty for Argentina. 2:11PM 54 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia enjoying more of the ball here. Kolarov curls a cross to the box and wins a corner as Calvo heads away at the back post. The referee has to sort out some pushing and pulling in the area. 2:09PM 52 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia are stretching the pitch and attacking through the middle more now. Although another cross from wide is collected from Navas. 2:08PM 50 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 HUGE MISS! Mitrovic breaks the offside trap, is one on one with Navas and his shot is terrible. Navas saves well but Mitrovic has to score there. What a massive moment that could prove to be. 2:07PM 49 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are on the right (light blue), Serbia the left (dark blue). 2:03PM 47 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic comes back to help out Ivanovic early on as Bryan Ruiz skins him on the left wing. No change of tactic here then. 2:02PM KICK-OFF 2 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica start the second half. We're back! 2:00PM Next up World Cup 2018 tactics: Why Germany's goalkeeper is key to how they attack Don't forget that after this game is Germany vs Mexico! You can join Alan Tyers in our liveblog coverage of that once this match is over. And not a moment sooner! Don't leave me. Please. 1:57PM Serbia's strikers Check the starting position of Milinkovic-Savic in possession. He's a central striker! Patrice Evra on him being linked with Man Utd: "You need to be a character, a personality. I'm afraid now you miss players playing for the passion. If you said 20 years ago Patrice you play for Manchester United and you don't even get paid, you do it." Doesn't really answer the question but I think I know what I mean. At least he hasn't literally applauded Aluko's football knowledge with this answer. 1:49PM Serbia's very attacking average positions That's a 2-4-4! Love it. Average touch positions (42 min) Look at the near-comical focus on one particular side of the pitch. Poor Ivanovic, he'll be knackered at the end of this. 1:47PM HALF TIME - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Thoroughly entertaining stuff there. Costa Rica targeting Ivanovic down the left and relying on quick counter-attacks, while Serbia have done well without really taking advantage of all their possession. Where there's Mitrovic there's a chance and Milinkovic-Savic has turned up in dangerous areas too. I can see a goal or two in the second half. 1:46PM 45 mins +1 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Borges should be booked for pulling Ljajic back just as he was about to get Serbia moving in the Costa Rica half... but Mitrovic is penalised for a tiny nudge on the back of Gonzalez. 1:44PM 44 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 MILINKOVIC-SAVIC BICYLE KICK! Saved by Navas! Wow. That would have been something else! Ivanovic chips into the box, the Lazio man goes for the spectacular, the linesman says he's offside. He isn't, so that goal would have counted if it had gone in. 1:42PM 42 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are enjoying the ball for a while. They've been on the back foot for quite a lot of the game so far, though this possession stat feels like it's way off. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia Calvo cuts inside from the left once more and tries a shot on his right foot... but drags it wide of the near post. Out: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Francisco Calvo, 42 min) 1:40PM 40 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ohhhh there's a slip in the Serbia defence by Tosic and it's given Costa Rica a chance to shoot. Urena takes it... but that's miles away. Calvo then wins a corner off Ivanovic, who isn't being given any peace. 1:37PM 38 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Both players appear OK to continue after a pause in play. What a collision that was though. Like a train battering into... another train. Or a Costa Rica defender. Anyway, they're alright. 1:35PM 36 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic wins a free-kick right in the corner. The big lads come up for the set piece, which Kolarov will whip in as in in-swinger. Navas Superman throws himself at it and punches away and then Tosic batters into Acosta while going for a header and both are in a lot of pain. 1:34PM 34 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ivanovic over-hits an early cross from wide right and puts it out for a goal kick. Costa Rica have been impressive with how they stop Serbia's build-up play. By blocking the passing option, Serbia don't really have anywhere to go other than long but are trying to keep the ball in defence until an opportunity to get forward opens up. 1:30PM 31 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are blocking the Serbian passing lanes with three forwards and two midfielders behind them, and it's forcing the defenders to really think about where they move the ball so as not to concede possession in a dangerous counter-attacking area. Once the ball is past the halfway line Costa Rica are a 5-4-1... Serbia need another option. And there it is - the chipped pass to Mitrovic. 1:28PM 29 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Bit chance! Super run off the ball by Milinkovic-Savic but he doesn't get the ball out of his feet as a pass over the top puts him through on goal. A low shot is saved easily by Navas but the offside flag had one anyway. He gets away with that miss. 1:26PM 27 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great take by Tadic. The pass is fired straight at him at pace and he controls and flicks the ball on to keep a move going. It just won't drop for Mitrovic in the area and his shot is blocked. 1:24PM 25 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: AFP Serbia are focusing their attacks through the middle then moving play out to the right wing once in the final third. Costa Rica survive another decent move but Serbia are back in possession. You can see they're favouring that right wing here: Serbia crosses Calvo is the left wing-back and is on a yellow card now too. 1:22PM 23 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica get in down the left again though and... that's a shocking tackle. He doesn't mean to go in as heavy as he does but Calvo is rightly booked for a late slide tackle near the corner on Tadic. That's the sort of challenge you put in for a laugh on Pro Evo. 1:21PM 21 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia switch the play a couple of times but Costa Rica look organised and shift over to deny the space and win possession back. Serbia are getting Tadic deeper with Matic helping out on the right now to make sure Ivanovic isn't exposed. 1:19PM 19 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win a free-kick about 35 yards from goal and this will be aimed towards Mitrovic. The referee has to tell Guzman to stand further back from the kick but doesn't book him. The ball goes in, is headed at the back post... and Costa Rica manage to get it away then drop into their low block. 1:16PM 17 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great save by Navas! Serbia have men over, Ivanovic overlaps down the right and dribbles past his man but Navas blocks the low cross into the area. Serbia might be in again! Tadic chips to the back post for Mitrovic but nobody is following up. Milinkovic-Savic has had a couple of lovely touches in the approach play to both those moves. 1:14PM 15 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic receives the ball on the edge of the box, moves it onto his right foot and shoots but the effort is blocked and Navas catches. Costa Rica attack down the left wing again - they're targeting Ivanovic at right-back. Serbia look ropey at the back here. A dreadful pass forward has nearly gifted Costa Rica the chance to break with an overload but the centre-backs just about to manage to see out the danger. 1:12PM 13 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 FREE HEADER! What a miss! Oh my word. A short corner, the second cross gives Gonzalez a completely free header. Dreadful defending from Serbia - what were they doing there? Total chaos in the second phase of that set piece and Costa Rica should be 1-0 up. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Giancarlo González, 12 min) Gonzalez can't believe he's put that miles over the bar. 1:11PM 11 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Costa Rica are looking to use their pace to take on the full-backs. Ivanovic and Kolarov aren't the young men they once were but still have a bit speed left in the legs - Costa Rica look like they might have the running of them though. Costa Rica win a corner. 1:09PM 9 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are quick and break with three forwards. It's not quite coming together for them in the final third for now but they've been able to run with the ball in Serbia's half a couple of times now. 1:07PM 7 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mitrovic is causing problems with his strength upfront and Serbia are looking for him with long throws and chipped passes. Serbia attack through the middle, the ball drops to Kolarov and he tries a shot from 30 yards but pings it wide of goal. 1:05PM 5 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia get up the pitch and win another corner. Both teams are attacking quickly and it's already entertaining. Serbia can't get space in the area thanks to the close attentions of the Costa Rica defence and Kolarov fouls Gamboa while trying to win the second ball from the corner. Costa Rica go long. 1:03PM 3 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 But now Costa Rica are in! Urena gets in behind the defence after a Ruiz pass puts him there and he wins a corner! Mitrovic is back defending now and powers a header away from goal. Calvo joins in down the left and hooks a swinging cross into the area and GONZALEZ IS THERE! But his header is straight at the goalkeeper! What a start this is! 1:01PM 2 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia start with the ball and Mitrovic gets a touch inside the area within 30 seconds. Corner. If he'd controlled that properly he was in for a shot from about 10 yards! The corner comes in and it's headed at goal! Navas looks frantic as he hops onto his other foot... but the referee has spotted a foul. The sign of things to come? 1:00PM KICK OFF Here we go! 12:55PM National anthems 12:54PM Here come the players! Costa Rica will be a 5-4-1 and try to keep things tight and take advantage of counter-attack situations while Serbia will be a 4-2-3-1. The wing-backs will get forward, the defence will be protected by Matic and Milivojevic and Milinkovic-Savic will support Mitrovic throughout. 12:47PM Evra's wearing a tin foil hat Paul Pogba's goal against Australia has been taken away from him. It's an own goal now (because it is...) and Evra has just said he wishes people would leave Paul alone. "If it was Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo I wonder if they would take that goal away," he says. Perhaps he's preparing some sort of speech about jet fuel and steel beams for half time. Patrice Evra showing surprise and actually *clapping* Eni Aluko’s analysis... awful, patronising— Omar Chaudhuri (@OmarChaudhuri) June 17, 2018 12:45PM The warm-ups Credit: GETTY IMAGES The players are just finishing their warm-ups and soon they'll be out on the pitch ready to put on a spectacle. Kolarov was holding his knee for a bit of it but I'm not sure if he's picked up a knock or something during his little pre-match routine. Now, if you'd like to get updates sent to your phone on Whatsapp, sign up for this thing we have here: World Cup whatsapp promo It keeps you up to date with all the news and scores from the games. 12:39PM Take care of the ball and the ball will take care of you Vladimir Stojkovic �� Serbia’s goalkeeper kisses the ball after every save he makes! #SRB#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/JEjD9gYCu8— Kay Murray (@KayLMurray) June 17, 2018 12:38PM Evra is impressed by a woman knowing football "Wow I'm really impressed, she knows more about the game than us," says Evra, in a somewhat* patronising way to Eni Aluko. Do your research pal. ITV have been pretty good at getting their pundits well read before going on air to be fair. Aluko has been explaining what makes Milinkovic-Savic such a threat, detailing his ability to play with the ball at feet but that he's also great at attacking and will support Mitrovic throughout today's game. *incredibly. 12:33PM The current and ex-pros' opinions "They're a strong defensive team but they don't score a lot of goals," says Eni Aluko of Costa Rica. Henrik Larsson and Patrice Evra make up the rest of ITV's pundits bench today. That's a strong lineup. 12:27PM Ivanovic becomes Serbia's all-time most capped player Credit: FIFA Today is his 104th cap, so assuming nothing changes before kick-off he will become the most capped player in the history of Serbia, surpassing Dejan Stankovic. But the real question is how tall is he compared to Mel from Mel and Sue? At 6 feet tall that makes him 1.something Mels from Mel and Sue. 12:24PM Inside the dressing rooms Credit: FIFA Credit: FIFA 12:22PM Our lovely new columnist Cesc Fabregas has joined our writing team for the World Cup and his first couple of columns are already up on the website. You can read his thoughts on Raheem Sterling here. Cesc Fabregas column: England's Raheem Sterling can deliver on the biggest stage 12:17PM Star players to look out for Keylor Navas is by far and away the best player on this Costa Rica team and according to my handy Football Manager database app (their database is used as a scouting tool by top level clubs around the world...), with an average rating of 81 he's way ahead of Borges and Campbell, both rated at 69. Bryan Ruiz shares the same rating... and then everything goes a bit south from there. Serbia meanwhile have some of the most highly rated young players in the world. Predrag Rajkovic is on the bench but at a base level 67 is expected to be about an 85 at some point in his career. I realise some of you might think I'm talking nonsense using a video game's database but their hit rate and accuracy is awesome. Matic - 78, Milinkovic-Savic -78, Adem Ljajic - 72, Aleksandar Kolarov -73... I think you get the idea. If Serbia can work their way around the Costa Rica low block and avoid making any particularly silly mistakes, they should really win this. 12:06PM Those teams in written form Costa Rica (3-5-2 / 5-4-1) Navas, Gamboa, Acosta, González, Duarte, Calvo, Venegas, Guzmán, Borges, Ruiz, Ureña Serbia (4-2-3-1) Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Tosic, Milenkovic, Kolarov, Milinkovic-Savic, Milivojevic, Matic, Ljajic, Tadic, Mitrovic Got to think Serbia are missing a trick leaving all the Football Manager wonderkids out. Zivkovic and Rajkovic on the bench? What is this - amateur hour? pic.twitter.com/LiPrSQumMX— JJ Bull (@jj_bull) June 17, 2018 12:00PM Starting lineups 10 'ic' and one Kolarov: Who's ready for the first match of the day? Here are the teams for #CRCSRB ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/np2DCvEQ78— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 17, 2018 11:59AM The best kits World Cup kits ranked 11:47AM Where is today's game? Well that would be the Samara Arena of course: World Cup 2018 stadium: Samara Arena And as we all know [looks down at phone] it is is the sixth largest city in Russia. This is what the stadium looks like.: Credit: FIFA And the inside is even cooler: Credit: REUTERS 11:40AM Welcome! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for Costa Rica vs Serbia, a match which should be really entertaining and one I'm looking forward to. Yesterday was another brilliant day of World Cup football notable for featuring several high profile VAR moments - it seems like having that extra help has really allowed referees to make some attack-minded decisions and goals make games great. So what to expect today? Serbia have the better (arguably - and I will argue it) group of players with several wonderkids supplemented by hardworking others. Nemanja Matic can run the midfield, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is one of the hottest prospects in football and Dusan Tadic is guaranteed to create chances to score. “As far as this story about me lacking experience, I don’t have any problem because I am working with professional players who prove themselves in clubs across Europe,” their manager Mladen Krstajic said. “My conscience is clear because we are working really well and have been together for three weeks. These are things that make me happy. “We have to be focused, responsible. When I met my squad for the first time I said let's relax, be friends off the pitch, but when comes to matches, everyone has to be responsible.” Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players In the red corner, Costa Rica aren't quite so strong but do have Keylor Navas in goal. You know, the Real Madrid guy. Yeh, him. Other than that, Arsenal's eternally nomadic loanee Joel Campbell is perhaps their best bet of getting a result with Celso Borges the most likely to set someone up for a goal. They didn't impress at all in defeat to England recently and were hammered by Belgium too - today is a massive test. Team news should be with us soon and I'll endeavour to bring you that as well as all the build-up and then analysis of the live action. Stick around to join in the fun.
Aleksandar Kolarov scores sensational free-kick as Serbia claim hard-fought World Cup 2018 win against Costa Rica
Aleksandar Kolarov produced a ­moment of captain’s inspiration, curling home a superb free-kick as Serbia got their Group E campaign up and running on Sunday. The former Manchester City full-back had appeared to be injured in the warm-up but recovered to curl in the winner against Costa Rica. Serbia had dominated the match but chances were at a premium 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 lifted a weight from coach Mladen Krstajic, in what was his first competitive game. “There was a great deal of pressure on the team, and on me, over the past seven months,” said Krstajic, who took the job in October. Krstajic’s relief was matched in equal measure by the disappointment of Oscar Ramirez, the Costa Rica manager, whose side are now in a precarious position. “Maybe we have lost a certain margin for qualifying,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult, but our intention remains the same. I told the lads ‘This isn’t over’.” Aleksandar Kolarov struck a wonderful free-kick to win all three points for Serbia Credit: REUTERS If Costa Rica are going to recover, they will need to rediscover the defensive organisation and clinical counter-attacks that propelled them to the quarter-finals four years ago. Serbia found it hard to break them down, but they rarely looked troubled at the back and, barring a late half-chance for substitute Joel Campbell, they coasted through the game. The match began in furious ­fashion, with Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic having a header scooped off the line and Costa Rica’s Giancarlo Gonzalez failing to convert two headed chances. But it soon 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. Mitrovic failed to find the net with a good chance early in the second half, but it mattered little when Kolarov, the AS Roma left-back, produced his moment of magic, curling a free kick, left-footed, over the wall and past the despairing dive of Navas. “It is great to have three points, but we are not finished. I don’t want to do the maths yet,” Kolarov said. Match details Costa Rica (3-4-3): Navas (Real Madrid) 7; Gamboa (Celtic) 6, Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas) 6, Gonzalez (Bologna) 6; Duarte (Espanyol) 6, Calvo (Minnesota) 7, Venegas (Saprissa) 6, Guzman (Portland) 6; Borges (Coruna) 6, Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon) 6, Urena (Los Angeles) 5. Subs: Campbell (Arsenal) for Urena 73, Bolanos (Saprissa) for Venegas 60, Colindres (Saprissa) for Guzman 73. Booked: Guzman, Calvo. Serbia (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic (Partizan) 6; Ivanovic (Zenit) 6, Tosic (Besiktas) 6, Milenkovic (Fiorentina) 6, Kolarov (Roma) 7; Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) 8, Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) 6; Matic (Man Utd) 6, Ljajic (Torino) 7, Tadic (Southampton) 6; Mitrovic (Newcastle) 6. Subs: Kostic (Hamburg) for Ljajic 70, Rukavina (Villarreal) for Tadic 83, Prijovic (PAOK) for Mitrovic 90. Booked: Prijovic. Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal). 3:08PM Some full-time stats for you After losing five consecutive World Cup games between 1998 and 2010, Serbia have since won two of their last three in the competition (L1). Serbia have won their opening game at a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1998, when they did so as Yugoslavia against Iran (1-0). Serbia have now won all four of their World Cup games against teams from the CONCACAF region, with the first three of those coming as Yugoslavia between 1950 and 1998. Costa Rica suffered their first defeat at the World Cup since 2006 (1-2 v Poland), ending a run of five games unbeaten in the competition (W2 D3). And my favourite of all: Aleksandar Kolarov’s goal for Serbia was the third direct free-kick scored at this year’s World Cup (after Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo), which is already as many as there were in the entire 2014 tournament in Brazil. 3:05PM Next up It's Germany vs Mexico! Join Alan Tyers in our World Cup liveblog as he brings you the team news, updates and analysis from the match. 3:05PM The referee separating the players Credit: GETTY IMAGES This is that little rammy towards the end when Matic went nuts. It looks like the Costa Rica nine, Colindres, puts a full on slap on a Serbia player. Could be a red card, might not. I'd argue that the players are just getting fired up late on - if it had been earlier in the game then it would have been in the ref's interests to sort things out further. 3:02PM Who stood out there then? Let's do some player ratings. Costa Rica (3-4-3 / 5-4-1) Navas 7, Gamboa 6, Acosta 6, González 6, Duarte 6, Calvo 7, Venegas 6, Guzmán 6, Borges 6, Ruiz 6, Ureña 5 Serbia (4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2) Stojkovic 6, Ivanovic 6, Tosic 6, Milenkovic 6, Kolarov 7, Milinkovic-Savic 8, Milivojevic 6, Matic 6, Ljajic 6, Tadic 7, Mitrovic 5 2:58PM Analysis Average touch positions (full time) A game of one half. Specifically the right for Serbia and left for Costa Rica. Passes kept going down the one side of the pitch. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:55PM FULL TIME Credit: AFP And that's it! Serbia get a deserved win against a spirited Costa Rica. Kolarov's free-kick was a thing of wonder and has won the points. 2:54PM 90 mins +7 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 More controversy here. Prijovic has caught someone off the ball with his forearm and Acosta throws himself to the floor. Is this a red card? The VAR is in use! Aaaaand it's a yellow card. Another good decision (IMO). 2:52PM 90 mins +5 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 VAR time! The referee is reviewing that decision! He wants to see if Matic should be in more trouble... but the VAR says no. Seems fair. Costa Rica keep coming... the ball is hooked in, headed down IT'S A CHANCE FOR BOLANOS! And he's missed from six yards! Thankfully, the linesman calls offside and he is miles ahead of the last man. What a miss though. Dreadful finish. 2:50PM 90 mins +4 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 That's poor from the substitute Rukavina. He loses possession then doesn't try to win it back but now Serbia are on the counter-attack, with men over! And the ball's been lost. And now Matic is involved with the bench! He's getting all fired up needlessly with the Costa Rica staff. 2:49PM 90 mins +3 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick 40 yards out, hit it in the area and it;s headed away. Gamboa goes for a distance wondergoal but his long range effort is saved by the goalkeeper easily. 2:47PM 90 mins +1 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 M-Savic has had a superb game. His timing of pass and movement off the ball is excellent. Serbia take Mitrovic off for Prijovic. Serbia come forward again - they have men over! Kostic spots the chance to shoot but blasts over the bar. So many players have been jumping their shots miles over. Practise required. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Filip Kostic, 90 min) 2:45PM 89 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 MITROVIC IS IN AGAIN! And he's wasted the chance again! Oh my word. He's so very nearly a great player - gets in the right positions, is strong but his finishing isn't all that. And here he gets into the box, slows down to wait for the ball to roll ahead of his body and the Costa Rica defender goes down. Mitrovic goes down too but I suspect that's more a problem of balance than an actual foul. No VAR for this incident. 2:43PM 87 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Stojkovic gets someone to help him tie his shoelaces. Cunning time-wasting tactic? Or cruel window into a life spent never learning to tie shoelaces? Only he really knows. 2:41PM 85 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica are now focusing most of their play down the right, targeting Kolarov. Nothing's coming off at the moment now, they're running out of ideas. 2:39PM 82 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell's been lively since coming on but you can kind of tell he's not played much recently. A half yard off the pace on the ball has given Serbia defenders opportunity to rob him of possession. Rukavina comes on for Tadic, which is almost certainly to give Ivanovic back-up at right-back. It might mean a 5-4-1 for Serbia. 2:36PM 80 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell tries to work space for a shot on the edge of the area but is blocked. M-Savic pulls off another beautiful bit of skill to take the ball round the outside of a midfielder and puts Serbia on the attack. They're starting to look a little tired now... 2:35PM 78 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: TASS Ooooh that should be 2-0. Tadic gets in behind on the right and squares the pass into the six yard box. Navas dives at it, gets a tiny flick on it and Kostic has a side foot to finish in an empty net. He gets it all wrong though and the net is unharmed. 2:32PM 76 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Colindres comes on for Guzman, which means Costa Rica have used all their substitutions up. Serbia fire some passes together and link well. M-Savic has the chance to shoot 25 yards out, takes the chance but balloons his effort way over the bar. 2:30PM 74 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell is in behind! There's a lucky deflection and Campbell gets ahead of Milenkovic but just isn't sharp enough to beat him to the ball and get a shot away. Corner. The goalie comes to get the cross but is nowhere near it. Like someone's thrown a scarecrow into the air at the ball. Serbia survive and Mitrovic shields the ball high up the pitch. 2:29PM 72 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica free-kick wide left... Campbell takes it and a Serbian head puts it clear. Kostic tries to break but the ball goes out of play, Serbia go back to their 4-4-1-1 shape and get behind the ball. 2:27PM 70 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell goes on a little dribble into the box but Ljajic puts in a great tackle and wins the ball. Costa Rica in a clear 3-4-3 now and making much snappier passes. Now Serbia are taking their turn to defend with blocks of four. Ljajic comes off for Kostic. 2:24PM 68 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Here comes Joel Campbell! Urena heads off. Look at the difference in possession now! Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:22PM 66 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES What a photo that is! The ball smashing into the back of the net from Kolarov's free-kick. Serbia have dropped really deep now they're 1-0 up... I wonder whether the best form of defence might actually be attacking Costa Rica more. They're inviting trouble like this. 2:20PM 64 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 1 - Kolarov has been the first Serbian player to score from direct free kick at the WC since Sinisa Mihajlovic v Iran on 14 June 1998 (including Yugoslavia). Southpaw. pic.twitter.com/yLePjJ0cmn— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 17, 2018 Costa Rica taking the game to Serbia now and Serbia are dropping further and further back. 2:18PM 62 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick in the final third but Serbia defend deep and head away. Costa Rica trying to get back into the game straight away. You're at your most vulnerable just after scoring goes the old saying. 2:16PM 60 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Serbia have the momentum now. Ljajic makes a run ahead of the defence and just can't get on the end of a chipped pass from Tadic. Will Costa Rica come out of their defensive shell now? 2:13PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! WHAT A HIT! KOLAVOC HAS SCORED! Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Aleksandar Kolarov, 56 min) Navas had absolutely no chance! It's a perfect free-kick, curled over the wall with power into the top corner. Goal: Serbia ( 56 min ) Unstoppable. 2:13PM 56 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win another free-kick in a dangerous area. Kolarov can shoot from here and seems to be lining one up. 2:12PM 55 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic gets a head on the ball as Duarte grabs hold of him in full view of the referee. Consistency in refereeing? There's not an awful lot of difference between that incident and the one yesterday that resulted in a penalty for Argentina. 2:11PM 54 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia enjoying more of the ball here. Kolarov curls a cross to the box and wins a corner as Calvo heads away at the back post. The referee has to sort out some pushing and pulling in the area. 2:09PM 52 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia are stretching the pitch and attacking through the middle more now. Although another cross from wide is collected from Navas. 2:08PM 50 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 HUGE MISS! Mitrovic breaks the offside trap, is one on one with Navas and his shot is terrible. Navas saves well but Mitrovic has to score there. What a massive moment that could prove to be. 2:07PM 49 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are on the right (light blue), Serbia the left (dark blue). 2:03PM 47 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic comes back to help out Ivanovic early on as Bryan Ruiz skins him on the left wing. No change of tactic here then. 2:02PM KICK-OFF 2 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica start the second half. We're back! 2:00PM Next up World Cup 2018 tactics: Why Germany's goalkeeper is key to how they attack Don't forget that after this game is Germany vs Mexico! You can join Alan Tyers in our liveblog coverage of that once this match is over. And not a moment sooner! Don't leave me. Please. 1:57PM Serbia's strikers Check the starting position of Milinkovic-Savic in possession. He's a central striker! Patrice Evra on him being linked with Man Utd: "You need to be a character, a personality. I'm afraid now you miss players playing for the passion. If you said 20 years ago Patrice you play for Manchester United and you don't even get paid, you do it." Doesn't really answer the question but I think I know what I mean. At least he hasn't literally applauded Aluko's football knowledge with this answer. 1:49PM Serbia's very attacking average positions That's a 2-4-4! Love it. Average touch positions (42 min) Look at the near-comical focus on one particular side of the pitch. Poor Ivanovic, he'll be knackered at the end of this. 1:47PM HALF TIME - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Thoroughly entertaining stuff there. Costa Rica targeting Ivanovic down the left and relying on quick counter-attacks, while Serbia have done well without really taking advantage of all their possession. Where there's Mitrovic there's a chance and Milinkovic-Savic has turned up in dangerous areas too. I can see a goal or two in the second half. 1:46PM 45 mins +1 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Borges should be booked for pulling Ljajic back just as he was about to get Serbia moving in the Costa Rica half... but Mitrovic is penalised for a tiny nudge on the back of Gonzalez. 1:44PM 44 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 MILINKOVIC-SAVIC BICYLE KICK! Saved by Navas! Wow. That would have been something else! Ivanovic chips into the box, the Lazio man goes for the spectacular, the linesman says he's offside. He isn't, so that goal would have counted if it had gone in. 1:42PM 42 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are enjoying the ball for a while. They've been on the back foot for quite a lot of the game so far, though this possession stat feels like it's way off. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia Calvo cuts inside from the left once more and tries a shot on his right foot... but drags it wide of the near post. Out: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Francisco Calvo, 42 min) 1:40PM 40 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ohhhh there's a slip in the Serbia defence by Tosic and it's given Costa Rica a chance to shoot. Urena takes it... but that's miles away. Calvo then wins a corner off Ivanovic, who isn't being given any peace. 1:37PM 38 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Both players appear OK to continue after a pause in play. What a collision that was though. Like a train battering into... another train. Or a Costa Rica defender. Anyway, they're alright. 1:35PM 36 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic wins a free-kick right in the corner. The big lads come up for the set piece, which Kolarov will whip in as in in-swinger. Navas Superman throws himself at it and punches away and then Tosic batters into Acosta while going for a header and both are in a lot of pain. 1:34PM 34 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ivanovic over-hits an early cross from wide right and puts it out for a goal kick. Costa Rica have been impressive with how they stop Serbia's build-up play. By blocking the passing option, Serbia don't really have anywhere to go other than long but are trying to keep the ball in defence until an opportunity to get forward opens up. 1:30PM 31 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are blocking the Serbian passing lanes with three forwards and two midfielders behind them, and it's forcing the defenders to really think about where they move the ball so as not to concede possession in a dangerous counter-attacking area. Once the ball is past the halfway line Costa Rica are a 5-4-1... Serbia need another option. And there it is - the chipped pass to Mitrovic. 1:28PM 29 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Bit chance! Super run off the ball by Milinkovic-Savic but he doesn't get the ball out of his feet as a pass over the top puts him through on goal. A low shot is saved easily by Navas but the offside flag had one anyway. He gets away with that miss. 1:26PM 27 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great take by Tadic. The pass is fired straight at him at pace and he controls and flicks the ball on to keep a move going. It just won't drop for Mitrovic in the area and his shot is blocked. 1:24PM 25 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: AFP Serbia are focusing their attacks through the middle then moving play out to the right wing once in the final third. Costa Rica survive another decent move but Serbia are back in possession. You can see they're favouring that right wing here: Serbia crosses Calvo is the left wing-back and is on a yellow card now too. 1:22PM 23 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica get in down the left again though and... that's a shocking tackle. He doesn't mean to go in as heavy as he does but Calvo is rightly booked for a late slide tackle near the corner on Tadic. That's the sort of challenge you put in for a laugh on Pro Evo. 1:21PM 21 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia switch the play a couple of times but Costa Rica look organised and shift over to deny the space and win possession back. Serbia are getting Tadic deeper with Matic helping out on the right now to make sure Ivanovic isn't exposed. 1:19PM 19 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win a free-kick about 35 yards from goal and this will be aimed towards Mitrovic. The referee has to tell Guzman to stand further back from the kick but doesn't book him. The ball goes in, is headed at the back post... and Costa Rica manage to get it away then drop into their low block. 1:16PM 17 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great save by Navas! Serbia have men over, Ivanovic overlaps down the right and dribbles past his man but Navas blocks the low cross into the area. Serbia might be in again! Tadic chips to the back post for Mitrovic but nobody is following up. Milinkovic-Savic has had a couple of lovely touches in the approach play to both those moves. 1:14PM 15 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic receives the ball on the edge of the box, moves it onto his right foot and shoots but the effort is blocked and Navas catches. Costa Rica attack down the left wing again - they're targeting Ivanovic at right-back. Serbia look ropey at the back here. A dreadful pass forward has nearly gifted Costa Rica the chance to break with an overload but the centre-backs just about to manage to see out the danger. 1:12PM 13 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 FREE HEADER! What a miss! Oh my word. A short corner, the second cross gives Gonzalez a completely free header. Dreadful defending from Serbia - what were they doing there? Total chaos in the second phase of that set piece and Costa Rica should be 1-0 up. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Giancarlo González, 12 min) Gonzalez can't believe he's put that miles over the bar. 1:11PM 11 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Costa Rica are looking to use their pace to take on the full-backs. Ivanovic and Kolarov aren't the young men they once were but still have a bit speed left in the legs - Costa Rica look like they might have the running of them though. Costa Rica win a corner. 1:09PM 9 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are quick and break with three forwards. It's not quite coming together for them in the final third for now but they've been able to run with the ball in Serbia's half a couple of times now. 1:07PM 7 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mitrovic is causing problems with his strength upfront and Serbia are looking for him with long throws and chipped passes. Serbia attack through the middle, the ball drops to Kolarov and he tries a shot from 30 yards but pings it wide of goal. 1:05PM 5 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia get up the pitch and win another corner. Both teams are attacking quickly and it's already entertaining. Serbia can't get space in the area thanks to the close attentions of the Costa Rica defence and Kolarov fouls Gamboa while trying to win the second ball from the corner. Costa Rica go long. 1:03PM 3 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 But now Costa Rica are in! Urena gets in behind the defence after a Ruiz pass puts him there and he wins a corner! Mitrovic is back defending now and powers a header away from goal. Calvo joins in down the left and hooks a swinging cross into the area and GONZALEZ IS THERE! But his header is straight at the goalkeeper! What a start this is! 1:01PM 2 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia start with the ball and Mitrovic gets a touch inside the area within 30 seconds. Corner. If he'd controlled that properly he was in for a shot from about 10 yards! The corner comes in and it's headed at goal! Navas looks frantic as he hops onto his other foot... but the referee has spotted a foul. The sign of things to come? 1:00PM KICK OFF Here we go! 12:55PM National anthems 12:54PM Here come the players! Costa Rica will be a 5-4-1 and try to keep things tight and take advantage of counter-attack situations while Serbia will be a 4-2-3-1. The wing-backs will get forward, the defence will be protected by Matic and Milivojevic and Milinkovic-Savic will support Mitrovic throughout. 12:47PM Evra's wearing a tin foil hat Paul Pogba's goal against Australia has been taken away from him. It's an own goal now (because it is...) and Evra has just said he wishes people would leave Paul alone. "If it was Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo I wonder if they would take that goal away," he says. Perhaps he's preparing some sort of speech about jet fuel and steel beams for half time. Patrice Evra showing surprise and actually *clapping* Eni Aluko’s analysis... awful, patronising— Omar Chaudhuri (@OmarChaudhuri) June 17, 2018 12:45PM The warm-ups Credit: GETTY IMAGES The players are just finishing their warm-ups and soon they'll be out on the pitch ready to put on a spectacle. Kolarov was holding his knee for a bit of it but I'm not sure if he's picked up a knock or something during his little pre-match routine. Now, if you'd like to get updates sent to your phone on Whatsapp, sign up for this thing we have here: World Cup whatsapp promo It keeps you up to date with all the news and scores from the games. 12:39PM Take care of the ball and the ball will take care of you Vladimir Stojkovic �� Serbia’s goalkeeper kisses the ball after every save he makes! #SRB#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/JEjD9gYCu8— Kay Murray (@KayLMurray) June 17, 2018 12:38PM Evra is impressed by a woman knowing football "Wow I'm really impressed, she knows more about the game than us," says Evra, in a somewhat* patronising way to Eni Aluko. Do your research pal. ITV have been pretty good at getting their pundits well read before going on air to be fair. Aluko has been explaining what makes Milinkovic-Savic such a threat, detailing his ability to play with the ball at feet but that he's also great at attacking and will support Mitrovic throughout today's game. *incredibly. 12:33PM The current and ex-pros' opinions "They're a strong defensive team but they don't score a lot of goals," says Eni Aluko of Costa Rica. Henrik Larsson and Patrice Evra make up the rest of ITV's pundits bench today. That's a strong lineup. 12:27PM Ivanovic becomes Serbia's all-time most capped player Credit: FIFA Today is his 104th cap, so assuming nothing changes before kick-off he will become the most capped player in the history of Serbia, surpassing Dejan Stankovic. But the real question is how tall is he compared to Mel from Mel and Sue? At 6 feet tall that makes him 1.something Mels from Mel and Sue. 12:24PM Inside the dressing rooms Credit: FIFA Credit: FIFA 12:22PM Our lovely new columnist Cesc Fabregas has joined our writing team for the World Cup and his first couple of columns are already up on the website. You can read his thoughts on Raheem Sterling here. Cesc Fabregas column: England's Raheem Sterling can deliver on the biggest stage 12:17PM Star players to look out for Keylor Navas is by far and away the best player on this Costa Rica team and according to my handy Football Manager database app (their database is used as a scouting tool by top level clubs around the world...), with an average rating of 81 he's way ahead of Borges and Campbell, both rated at 69. Bryan Ruiz shares the same rating... and then everything goes a bit south from there. Serbia meanwhile have some of the most highly rated young players in the world. Predrag Rajkovic is on the bench but at a base level 67 is expected to be about an 85 at some point in his career. I realise some of you might think I'm talking nonsense using a video game's database but their hit rate and accuracy is awesome. Matic - 78, Milinkovic-Savic -78, Adem Ljajic - 72, Aleksandar Kolarov -73... I think you get the idea. If Serbia can work their way around the Costa Rica low block and avoid making any particularly silly mistakes, they should really win this. 12:06PM Those teams in written form Costa Rica (3-5-2 / 5-4-1) Navas, Gamboa, Acosta, González, Duarte, Calvo, Venegas, Guzmán, Borges, Ruiz, Ureña Serbia (4-2-3-1) Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Tosic, Milenkovic, Kolarov, Milinkovic-Savic, Milivojevic, Matic, Ljajic, Tadic, Mitrovic Got to think Serbia are missing a trick leaving all the Football Manager wonderkids out. Zivkovic and Rajkovic on the bench? What is this - amateur hour? pic.twitter.com/LiPrSQumMX— JJ Bull (@jj_bull) June 17, 2018 12:00PM Starting lineups 10 'ic' and one Kolarov: Who's ready for the first match of the day? Here are the teams for #CRCSRB ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/np2DCvEQ78— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 17, 2018 11:59AM The best kits World Cup kits ranked 11:47AM Where is today's game? Well that would be the Samara Arena of course: World Cup 2018 stadium: Samara Arena And as we all know [looks down at phone] it is is the sixth largest city in Russia. This is what the stadium looks like.: Credit: FIFA And the inside is even cooler: Credit: REUTERS 11:40AM Welcome! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for Costa Rica vs Serbia, a match which should be really entertaining and one I'm looking forward to. Yesterday was another brilliant day of World Cup football notable for featuring several high profile VAR moments - it seems like having that extra help has really allowed referees to make some attack-minded decisions and goals make games great. So what to expect today? Serbia have the better (arguably - and I will argue it) group of players with several wonderkids supplemented by hardworking others. Nemanja Matic can run the midfield, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is one of the hottest prospects in football and Dusan Tadic is guaranteed to create chances to score. “As far as this story about me lacking experience, I don’t have any problem because I am working with professional players who prove themselves in clubs across Europe,” their manager Mladen Krstajic said. “My conscience is clear because we are working really well and have been together for three weeks. These are things that make me happy. “We have to be focused, responsible. When I met my squad for the first time I said let's relax, be friends off the pitch, but when comes to matches, everyone has to be responsible.” Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players In the red corner, Costa Rica aren't quite so strong but do have Keylor Navas in goal. You know, the Real Madrid guy. Yeh, him. Other than that, Arsenal's eternally nomadic loanee Joel Campbell is perhaps their best bet of getting a result with Celso Borges the most likely to set someone up for a goal. They didn't impress at all in defeat to England recently and were hammered by Belgium too - today is a massive test. Team news should be with us soon and I'll endeavour to bring you that as well as all the build-up and then analysis of the live action. Stick around to join in the fun.
Aleksandar Kolarov produced a ­moment of captain’s inspiration, curling home a superb free-kick as Serbia got their Group E campaign up and running on Sunday. The former Manchester City full-back had appeared to be injured in the warm-up but recovered to curl in the winner against Costa Rica. Serbia had dominated the match but chances were at a premium 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 lifted a weight from coach Mladen Krstajic, in what was his first competitive game. “There was a great deal of pressure on the team, and on me, over the past seven months,” said Krstajic, who took the job in October. Krstajic’s relief was matched in equal measure by the disappointment of Oscar Ramirez, the Costa Rica manager, whose side are now in a precarious position. “Maybe we have lost a certain margin for qualifying,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult, but our intention remains the same. I told the lads ‘This isn’t over’.” Aleksandar Kolarov struck a wonderful free-kick to win all three points for Serbia Credit: REUTERS If Costa Rica are going to recover, they will need to rediscover the defensive organisation and clinical counter-attacks that propelled them to the quarter-finals four years ago. Serbia found it hard to break them down, but they rarely looked troubled at the back and, barring a late half-chance for substitute Joel Campbell, they coasted through the game. The match began in furious ­fashion, with Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic having a header scooped off the line and Costa Rica’s Giancarlo Gonzalez failing to convert two headed chances. But it soon 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. Mitrovic failed to find the net with a good chance early in the second half, but it mattered little when Kolarov, the AS Roma left-back, produced his moment of magic, curling a free kick, left-footed, over the wall and past the despairing dive of Navas. “It is great to have three points, but we are not finished. I don’t want to do the maths yet,” Kolarov said. Match details Costa Rica (3-4-3): Navas (Real Madrid) 7; Gamboa (Celtic) 6, Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas) 6, Gonzalez (Bologna) 6; Duarte (Espanyol) 6, Calvo (Minnesota) 7, Venegas (Saprissa) 6, Guzman (Portland) 6; Borges (Coruna) 6, Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon) 6, Urena (Los Angeles) 5. Subs: Campbell (Arsenal) for Urena 73, Bolanos (Saprissa) for Venegas 60, Colindres (Saprissa) for Guzman 73. Booked: Guzman, Calvo. Serbia (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic (Partizan) 6; Ivanovic (Zenit) 6, Tosic (Besiktas) 6, Milenkovic (Fiorentina) 6, Kolarov (Roma) 7; Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) 8, Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) 6; Matic (Man Utd) 6, Ljajic (Torino) 7, Tadic (Southampton) 6; Mitrovic (Newcastle) 6. Subs: Kostic (Hamburg) for Ljajic 70, Rukavina (Villarreal) for Tadic 83, Prijovic (PAOK) for Mitrovic 90. Booked: Prijovic. Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal). 3:08PM Some full-time stats for you After losing five consecutive World Cup games between 1998 and 2010, Serbia have since won two of their last three in the competition (L1). Serbia have won their opening game at a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1998, when they did so as Yugoslavia against Iran (1-0). Serbia have now won all four of their World Cup games against teams from the CONCACAF region, with the first three of those coming as Yugoslavia between 1950 and 1998. Costa Rica suffered their first defeat at the World Cup since 2006 (1-2 v Poland), ending a run of five games unbeaten in the competition (W2 D3). And my favourite of all: Aleksandar Kolarov’s goal for Serbia was the third direct free-kick scored at this year’s World Cup (after Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo), which is already as many as there were in the entire 2014 tournament in Brazil. 3:05PM Next up It's Germany vs Mexico! Join Alan Tyers in our World Cup liveblog as he brings you the team news, updates and analysis from the match. 3:05PM The referee separating the players Credit: GETTY IMAGES This is that little rammy towards the end when Matic went nuts. It looks like the Costa Rica nine, Colindres, puts a full on slap on a Serbia player. Could be a red card, might not. I'd argue that the players are just getting fired up late on - if it had been earlier in the game then it would have been in the ref's interests to sort things out further. 3:02PM Who stood out there then? Let's do some player ratings. Costa Rica (3-4-3 / 5-4-1) Navas 7, Gamboa 6, Acosta 6, González 6, Duarte 6, Calvo 7, Venegas 6, Guzmán 6, Borges 6, Ruiz 6, Ureña 5 Serbia (4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2) Stojkovic 6, Ivanovic 6, Tosic 6, Milenkovic 6, Kolarov 7, Milinkovic-Savic 8, Milivojevic 6, Matic 6, Ljajic 6, Tadic 7, Mitrovic 5 2:58PM Analysis Average touch positions (full time) A game of one half. Specifically the right for Serbia and left for Costa Rica. Passes kept going down the one side of the pitch. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:55PM FULL TIME Credit: AFP And that's it! Serbia get a deserved win against a spirited Costa Rica. Kolarov's free-kick was a thing of wonder and has won the points. 2:54PM 90 mins +7 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 More controversy here. Prijovic has caught someone off the ball with his forearm and Acosta throws himself to the floor. Is this a red card? The VAR is in use! Aaaaand it's a yellow card. Another good decision (IMO). 2:52PM 90 mins +5 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 VAR time! The referee is reviewing that decision! He wants to see if Matic should be in more trouble... but the VAR says no. Seems fair. Costa Rica keep coming... the ball is hooked in, headed down IT'S A CHANCE FOR BOLANOS! And he's missed from six yards! Thankfully, the linesman calls offside and he is miles ahead of the last man. What a miss though. Dreadful finish. 2:50PM 90 mins +4 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 That's poor from the substitute Rukavina. He loses possession then doesn't try to win it back but now Serbia are on the counter-attack, with men over! And the ball's been lost. And now Matic is involved with the bench! He's getting all fired up needlessly with the Costa Rica staff. 2:49PM 90 mins +3 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick 40 yards out, hit it in the area and it;s headed away. Gamboa goes for a distance wondergoal but his long range effort is saved by the goalkeeper easily. 2:47PM 90 mins +1 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 M-Savic has had a superb game. His timing of pass and movement off the ball is excellent. Serbia take Mitrovic off for Prijovic. Serbia come forward again - they have men over! Kostic spots the chance to shoot but blasts over the bar. So many players have been jumping their shots miles over. Practise required. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Filip Kostic, 90 min) 2:45PM 89 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 MITROVIC IS IN AGAIN! And he's wasted the chance again! Oh my word. He's so very nearly a great player - gets in the right positions, is strong but his finishing isn't all that. And here he gets into the box, slows down to wait for the ball to roll ahead of his body and the Costa Rica defender goes down. Mitrovic goes down too but I suspect that's more a problem of balance than an actual foul. No VAR for this incident. 2:43PM 87 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Stojkovic gets someone to help him tie his shoelaces. Cunning time-wasting tactic? Or cruel window into a life spent never learning to tie shoelaces? Only he really knows. 2:41PM 85 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica are now focusing most of their play down the right, targeting Kolarov. Nothing's coming off at the moment now, they're running out of ideas. 2:39PM 82 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell's been lively since coming on but you can kind of tell he's not played much recently. A half yard off the pace on the ball has given Serbia defenders opportunity to rob him of possession. Rukavina comes on for Tadic, which is almost certainly to give Ivanovic back-up at right-back. It might mean a 5-4-1 for Serbia. 2:36PM 80 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell tries to work space for a shot on the edge of the area but is blocked. M-Savic pulls off another beautiful bit of skill to take the ball round the outside of a midfielder and puts Serbia on the attack. They're starting to look a little tired now... 2:35PM 78 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: TASS Ooooh that should be 2-0. Tadic gets in behind on the right and squares the pass into the six yard box. Navas dives at it, gets a tiny flick on it and Kostic has a side foot to finish in an empty net. He gets it all wrong though and the net is unharmed. 2:32PM 76 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Colindres comes on for Guzman, which means Costa Rica have used all their substitutions up. Serbia fire some passes together and link well. M-Savic has the chance to shoot 25 yards out, takes the chance but balloons his effort way over the bar. 2:30PM 74 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell is in behind! There's a lucky deflection and Campbell gets ahead of Milenkovic but just isn't sharp enough to beat him to the ball and get a shot away. Corner. The goalie comes to get the cross but is nowhere near it. Like someone's thrown a scarecrow into the air at the ball. Serbia survive and Mitrovic shields the ball high up the pitch. 2:29PM 72 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica free-kick wide left... Campbell takes it and a Serbian head puts it clear. Kostic tries to break but the ball goes out of play, Serbia go back to their 4-4-1-1 shape and get behind the ball. 2:27PM 70 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell goes on a little dribble into the box but Ljajic puts in a great tackle and wins the ball. Costa Rica in a clear 3-4-3 now and making much snappier passes. Now Serbia are taking their turn to defend with blocks of four. Ljajic comes off for Kostic. 2:24PM 68 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Here comes Joel Campbell! Urena heads off. Look at the difference in possession now! Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:22PM 66 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES What a photo that is! The ball smashing into the back of the net from Kolarov's free-kick. Serbia have dropped really deep now they're 1-0 up... I wonder whether the best form of defence might actually be attacking Costa Rica more. They're inviting trouble like this. 2:20PM 64 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 1 - Kolarov has been the first Serbian player to score from direct free kick at the WC since Sinisa Mihajlovic v Iran on 14 June 1998 (including Yugoslavia). Southpaw. pic.twitter.com/yLePjJ0cmn— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 17, 2018 Costa Rica taking the game to Serbia now and Serbia are dropping further and further back. 2:18PM 62 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick in the final third but Serbia defend deep and head away. Costa Rica trying to get back into the game straight away. You're at your most vulnerable just after scoring goes the old saying. 2:16PM 60 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Serbia have the momentum now. Ljajic makes a run ahead of the defence and just can't get on the end of a chipped pass from Tadic. Will Costa Rica come out of their defensive shell now? 2:13PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! WHAT A HIT! KOLAVOC HAS SCORED! Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Aleksandar Kolarov, 56 min) Navas had absolutely no chance! It's a perfect free-kick, curled over the wall with power into the top corner. Goal: Serbia ( 56 min ) Unstoppable. 2:13PM 56 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win another free-kick in a dangerous area. Kolarov can shoot from here and seems to be lining one up. 2:12PM 55 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic gets a head on the ball as Duarte grabs hold of him in full view of the referee. Consistency in refereeing? There's not an awful lot of difference between that incident and the one yesterday that resulted in a penalty for Argentina. 2:11PM 54 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia enjoying more of the ball here. Kolarov curls a cross to the box and wins a corner as Calvo heads away at the back post. The referee has to sort out some pushing and pulling in the area. 2:09PM 52 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia are stretching the pitch and attacking through the middle more now. Although another cross from wide is collected from Navas. 2:08PM 50 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 HUGE MISS! Mitrovic breaks the offside trap, is one on one with Navas and his shot is terrible. Navas saves well but Mitrovic has to score there. What a massive moment that could prove to be. 2:07PM 49 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are on the right (light blue), Serbia the left (dark blue). 2:03PM 47 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic comes back to help out Ivanovic early on as Bryan Ruiz skins him on the left wing. No change of tactic here then. 2:02PM KICK-OFF 2 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica start the second half. We're back! 2:00PM Next up World Cup 2018 tactics: Why Germany's goalkeeper is key to how they attack Don't forget that after this game is Germany vs Mexico! You can join Alan Tyers in our liveblog coverage of that once this match is over. And not a moment sooner! Don't leave me. Please. 1:57PM Serbia's strikers Check the starting position of Milinkovic-Savic in possession. He's a central striker! Patrice Evra on him being linked with Man Utd: "You need to be a character, a personality. I'm afraid now you miss players playing for the passion. If you said 20 years ago Patrice you play for Manchester United and you don't even get paid, you do it." Doesn't really answer the question but I think I know what I mean. At least he hasn't literally applauded Aluko's football knowledge with this answer. 1:49PM Serbia's very attacking average positions That's a 2-4-4! Love it. Average touch positions (42 min) Look at the near-comical focus on one particular side of the pitch. Poor Ivanovic, he'll be knackered at the end of this. 1:47PM HALF TIME - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Thoroughly entertaining stuff there. Costa Rica targeting Ivanovic down the left and relying on quick counter-attacks, while Serbia have done well without really taking advantage of all their possession. Where there's Mitrovic there's a chance and Milinkovic-Savic has turned up in dangerous areas too. I can see a goal or two in the second half. 1:46PM 45 mins +1 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Borges should be booked for pulling Ljajic back just as he was about to get Serbia moving in the Costa Rica half... but Mitrovic is penalised for a tiny nudge on the back of Gonzalez. 1:44PM 44 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 MILINKOVIC-SAVIC BICYLE KICK! Saved by Navas! Wow. That would have been something else! Ivanovic chips into the box, the Lazio man goes for the spectacular, the linesman says he's offside. He isn't, so that goal would have counted if it had gone in. 1:42PM 42 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are enjoying the ball for a while. They've been on the back foot for quite a lot of the game so far, though this possession stat feels like it's way off. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia Calvo cuts inside from the left once more and tries a shot on his right foot... but drags it wide of the near post. Out: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Francisco Calvo, 42 min) 1:40PM 40 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ohhhh there's a slip in the Serbia defence by Tosic and it's given Costa Rica a chance to shoot. Urena takes it... but that's miles away. Calvo then wins a corner off Ivanovic, who isn't being given any peace. 1:37PM 38 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Both players appear OK to continue after a pause in play. What a collision that was though. Like a train battering into... another train. Or a Costa Rica defender. Anyway, they're alright. 1:35PM 36 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic wins a free-kick right in the corner. The big lads come up for the set piece, which Kolarov will whip in as in in-swinger. Navas Superman throws himself at it and punches away and then Tosic batters into Acosta while going for a header and both are in a lot of pain. 1:34PM 34 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ivanovic over-hits an early cross from wide right and puts it out for a goal kick. Costa Rica have been impressive with how they stop Serbia's build-up play. By blocking the passing option, Serbia don't really have anywhere to go other than long but are trying to keep the ball in defence until an opportunity to get forward opens up. 1:30PM 31 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are blocking the Serbian passing lanes with three forwards and two midfielders behind them, and it's forcing the defenders to really think about where they move the ball so as not to concede possession in a dangerous counter-attacking area. Once the ball is past the halfway line Costa Rica are a 5-4-1... Serbia need another option. And there it is - the chipped pass to Mitrovic. 1:28PM 29 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Bit chance! Super run off the ball by Milinkovic-Savic but he doesn't get the ball out of his feet as a pass over the top puts him through on goal. A low shot is saved easily by Navas but the offside flag had one anyway. He gets away with that miss. 1:26PM 27 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great take by Tadic. The pass is fired straight at him at pace and he controls and flicks the ball on to keep a move going. It just won't drop for Mitrovic in the area and his shot is blocked. 1:24PM 25 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: AFP Serbia are focusing their attacks through the middle then moving play out to the right wing once in the final third. Costa Rica survive another decent move but Serbia are back in possession. You can see they're favouring that right wing here: Serbia crosses Calvo is the left wing-back and is on a yellow card now too. 1:22PM 23 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica get in down the left again though and... that's a shocking tackle. He doesn't mean to go in as heavy as he does but Calvo is rightly booked for a late slide tackle near the corner on Tadic. That's the sort of challenge you put in for a laugh on Pro Evo. 1:21PM 21 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia switch the play a couple of times but Costa Rica look organised and shift over to deny the space and win possession back. Serbia are getting Tadic deeper with Matic helping out on the right now to make sure Ivanovic isn't exposed. 1:19PM 19 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win a free-kick about 35 yards from goal and this will be aimed towards Mitrovic. The referee has to tell Guzman to stand further back from the kick but doesn't book him. The ball goes in, is headed at the back post... and Costa Rica manage to get it away then drop into their low block. 1:16PM 17 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great save by Navas! Serbia have men over, Ivanovic overlaps down the right and dribbles past his man but Navas blocks the low cross into the area. Serbia might be in again! Tadic chips to the back post for Mitrovic but nobody is following up. Milinkovic-Savic has had a couple of lovely touches in the approach play to both those moves. 1:14PM 15 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic receives the ball on the edge of the box, moves it onto his right foot and shoots but the effort is blocked and Navas catches. Costa Rica attack down the left wing again - they're targeting Ivanovic at right-back. Serbia look ropey at the back here. A dreadful pass forward has nearly gifted Costa Rica the chance to break with an overload but the centre-backs just about to manage to see out the danger. 1:12PM 13 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 FREE HEADER! What a miss! Oh my word. A short corner, the second cross gives Gonzalez a completely free header. Dreadful defending from Serbia - what were they doing there? Total chaos in the second phase of that set piece and Costa Rica should be 1-0 up. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Giancarlo González, 12 min) Gonzalez can't believe he's put that miles over the bar. 1:11PM 11 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Costa Rica are looking to use their pace to take on the full-backs. Ivanovic and Kolarov aren't the young men they once were but still have a bit speed left in the legs - Costa Rica look like they might have the running of them though. Costa Rica win a corner. 1:09PM 9 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are quick and break with three forwards. It's not quite coming together for them in the final third for now but they've been able to run with the ball in Serbia's half a couple of times now. 1:07PM 7 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mitrovic is causing problems with his strength upfront and Serbia are looking for him with long throws and chipped passes. Serbia attack through the middle, the ball drops to Kolarov and he tries a shot from 30 yards but pings it wide of goal. 1:05PM 5 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia get up the pitch and win another corner. Both teams are attacking quickly and it's already entertaining. Serbia can't get space in the area thanks to the close attentions of the Costa Rica defence and Kolarov fouls Gamboa while trying to win the second ball from the corner. Costa Rica go long. 1:03PM 3 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 But now Costa Rica are in! Urena gets in behind the defence after a Ruiz pass puts him there and he wins a corner! Mitrovic is back defending now and powers a header away from goal. Calvo joins in down the left and hooks a swinging cross into the area and GONZALEZ IS THERE! But his header is straight at the goalkeeper! What a start this is! 1:01PM 2 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia start with the ball and Mitrovic gets a touch inside the area within 30 seconds. Corner. If he'd controlled that properly he was in for a shot from about 10 yards! The corner comes in and it's headed at goal! Navas looks frantic as he hops onto his other foot... but the referee has spotted a foul. The sign of things to come? 1:00PM KICK OFF Here we go! 12:55PM National anthems 12:54PM Here come the players! Costa Rica will be a 5-4-1 and try to keep things tight and take advantage of counter-attack situations while Serbia will be a 4-2-3-1. The wing-backs will get forward, the defence will be protected by Matic and Milivojevic and Milinkovic-Savic will support Mitrovic throughout. 12:47PM Evra's wearing a tin foil hat Paul Pogba's goal against Australia has been taken away from him. It's an own goal now (because it is...) and Evra has just said he wishes people would leave Paul alone. "If it was Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo I wonder if they would take that goal away," he says. Perhaps he's preparing some sort of speech about jet fuel and steel beams for half time. Patrice Evra showing surprise and actually *clapping* Eni Aluko’s analysis... awful, patronising— Omar Chaudhuri (@OmarChaudhuri) June 17, 2018 12:45PM The warm-ups Credit: GETTY IMAGES The players are just finishing their warm-ups and soon they'll be out on the pitch ready to put on a spectacle. Kolarov was holding his knee for a bit of it but I'm not sure if he's picked up a knock or something during his little pre-match routine. Now, if you'd like to get updates sent to your phone on Whatsapp, sign up for this thing we have here: World Cup whatsapp promo It keeps you up to date with all the news and scores from the games. 12:39PM Take care of the ball and the ball will take care of you Vladimir Stojkovic �� Serbia’s goalkeeper kisses the ball after every save he makes! #SRB#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/JEjD9gYCu8— Kay Murray (@KayLMurray) June 17, 2018 12:38PM Evra is impressed by a woman knowing football "Wow I'm really impressed, she knows more about the game than us," says Evra, in a somewhat* patronising way to Eni Aluko. Do your research pal. ITV have been pretty good at getting their pundits well read before going on air to be fair. Aluko has been explaining what makes Milinkovic-Savic such a threat, detailing his ability to play with the ball at feet but that he's also great at attacking and will support Mitrovic throughout today's game. *incredibly. 12:33PM The current and ex-pros' opinions "They're a strong defensive team but they don't score a lot of goals," says Eni Aluko of Costa Rica. Henrik Larsson and Patrice Evra make up the rest of ITV's pundits bench today. That's a strong lineup. 12:27PM Ivanovic becomes Serbia's all-time most capped player Credit: FIFA Today is his 104th cap, so assuming nothing changes before kick-off he will become the most capped player in the history of Serbia, surpassing Dejan Stankovic. But the real question is how tall is he compared to Mel from Mel and Sue? At 6 feet tall that makes him 1.something Mels from Mel and Sue. 12:24PM Inside the dressing rooms Credit: FIFA Credit: FIFA 12:22PM Our lovely new columnist Cesc Fabregas has joined our writing team for the World Cup and his first couple of columns are already up on the website. You can read his thoughts on Raheem Sterling here. Cesc Fabregas column: England's Raheem Sterling can deliver on the biggest stage 12:17PM Star players to look out for Keylor Navas is by far and away the best player on this Costa Rica team and according to my handy Football Manager database app (their database is used as a scouting tool by top level clubs around the world...), with an average rating of 81 he's way ahead of Borges and Campbell, both rated at 69. Bryan Ruiz shares the same rating... and then everything goes a bit south from there. Serbia meanwhile have some of the most highly rated young players in the world. Predrag Rajkovic is on the bench but at a base level 67 is expected to be about an 85 at some point in his career. I realise some of you might think I'm talking nonsense using a video game's database but their hit rate and accuracy is awesome. Matic - 78, Milinkovic-Savic -78, Adem Ljajic - 72, Aleksandar Kolarov -73... I think you get the idea. If Serbia can work their way around the Costa Rica low block and avoid making any particularly silly mistakes, they should really win this. 12:06PM Those teams in written form Costa Rica (3-5-2 / 5-4-1) Navas, Gamboa, Acosta, González, Duarte, Calvo, Venegas, Guzmán, Borges, Ruiz, Ureña Serbia (4-2-3-1) Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Tosic, Milenkovic, Kolarov, Milinkovic-Savic, Milivojevic, Matic, Ljajic, Tadic, Mitrovic Got to think Serbia are missing a trick leaving all the Football Manager wonderkids out. Zivkovic and Rajkovic on the bench? What is this - amateur hour? pic.twitter.com/LiPrSQumMX— JJ Bull (@jj_bull) June 17, 2018 12:00PM Starting lineups 10 'ic' and one Kolarov: Who's ready for the first match of the day? Here are the teams for #CRCSRB ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/np2DCvEQ78— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 17, 2018 11:59AM The best kits World Cup kits ranked 11:47AM Where is today's game? Well that would be the Samara Arena of course: World Cup 2018 stadium: Samara Arena And as we all know [looks down at phone] it is is the sixth largest city in Russia. This is what the stadium looks like.: Credit: FIFA And the inside is even cooler: Credit: REUTERS 11:40AM Welcome! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for Costa Rica vs Serbia, a match which should be really entertaining and one I'm looking forward to. Yesterday was another brilliant day of World Cup football notable for featuring several high profile VAR moments - it seems like having that extra help has really allowed referees to make some attack-minded decisions and goals make games great. So what to expect today? Serbia have the better (arguably - and I will argue it) group of players with several wonderkids supplemented by hardworking others. Nemanja Matic can run the midfield, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is one of the hottest prospects in football and Dusan Tadic is guaranteed to create chances to score. “As far as this story about me lacking experience, I don’t have any problem because I am working with professional players who prove themselves in clubs across Europe,” their manager Mladen Krstajic said. “My conscience is clear because we are working really well and have been together for three weeks. These are things that make me happy. “We have to be focused, responsible. When I met my squad for the first time I said let's relax, be friends off the pitch, but when comes to matches, everyone has to be responsible.” Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players In the red corner, Costa Rica aren't quite so strong but do have Keylor Navas in goal. You know, the Real Madrid guy. Yeh, him. Other than that, Arsenal's eternally nomadic loanee Joel Campbell is perhaps their best bet of getting a result with Celso Borges the most likely to set someone up for a goal. They didn't impress at all in defeat to England recently and were hammered by Belgium too - today is a massive test. Team news should be with us soon and I'll endeavour to bring you that as well as all the build-up and then analysis of the live action. Stick around to join in the fun.
Aleksandar Kolarov scores sensational free-kick as Serbia claim hard-fought World Cup 2018 win against Costa Rica
Aleksandar Kolarov produced a ­moment of captain’s inspiration, curling home a superb free-kick as Serbia got their Group E campaign up and running on Sunday. The former Manchester City full-back had appeared to be injured in the warm-up but recovered to curl in the winner against Costa Rica. Serbia had dominated the match but chances were at a premium 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 lifted a weight from coach Mladen Krstajic, in what was his first competitive game. “There was a great deal of pressure on the team, and on me, over the past seven months,” said Krstajic, who took the job in October. Krstajic’s relief was matched in equal measure by the disappointment of Oscar Ramirez, the Costa Rica manager, whose side are now in a precarious position. “Maybe we have lost a certain margin for qualifying,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult, but our intention remains the same. I told the lads ‘This isn’t over’.” Aleksandar Kolarov struck a wonderful free-kick to win all three points for Serbia Credit: REUTERS If Costa Rica are going to recover, they will need to rediscover the defensive organisation and clinical counter-attacks that propelled them to the quarter-finals four years ago. Serbia found it hard to break them down, but they rarely looked troubled at the back and, barring a late half-chance for substitute Joel Campbell, they coasted through the game. The match began in furious ­fashion, with Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic having a header scooped off the line and Costa Rica’s Giancarlo Gonzalez failing to convert two headed chances. But it soon 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. Mitrovic failed to find the net with a good chance early in the second half, but it mattered little when Kolarov, the AS Roma left-back, produced his moment of magic, curling a free kick, left-footed, over the wall and past the despairing dive of Navas. “It is great to have three points, but we are not finished. I don’t want to do the maths yet,” Kolarov said. Match details Costa Rica (3-4-3): Navas (Real Madrid) 7; Gamboa (Celtic) 6, Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas) 6, Gonzalez (Bologna) 6; Duarte (Espanyol) 6, Calvo (Minnesota) 7, Venegas (Saprissa) 6, Guzman (Portland) 6; Borges (Coruna) 6, Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon) 6, Urena (Los Angeles) 5. Subs: Campbell (Arsenal) for Urena 73, Bolanos (Saprissa) for Venegas 60, Colindres (Saprissa) for Guzman 73. Booked: Guzman, Calvo. Serbia (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic (Partizan) 6; Ivanovic (Zenit) 6, Tosic (Besiktas) 6, Milenkovic (Fiorentina) 6, Kolarov (Roma) 7; Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) 8, Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) 6; Matic (Man Utd) 6, Ljajic (Torino) 7, Tadic (Southampton) 6; Mitrovic (Newcastle) 6. Subs: Kostic (Hamburg) for Ljajic 70, Rukavina (Villarreal) for Tadic 83, Prijovic (PAOK) for Mitrovic 90. Booked: Prijovic. Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal). 3:08PM Some full-time stats for you After losing five consecutive World Cup games between 1998 and 2010, Serbia have since won two of their last three in the competition (L1). Serbia have won their opening game at a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1998, when they did so as Yugoslavia against Iran (1-0). Serbia have now won all four of their World Cup games against teams from the CONCACAF region, with the first three of those coming as Yugoslavia between 1950 and 1998. Costa Rica suffered their first defeat at the World Cup since 2006 (1-2 v Poland), ending a run of five games unbeaten in the competition (W2 D3). And my favourite of all: Aleksandar Kolarov’s goal for Serbia was the third direct free-kick scored at this year’s World Cup (after Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo), which is already as many as there were in the entire 2014 tournament in Brazil. 3:05PM Next up It's Germany vs Mexico! Join Alan Tyers in our World Cup liveblog as he brings you the team news, updates and analysis from the match. 3:05PM The referee separating the players Credit: GETTY IMAGES This is that little rammy towards the end when Matic went nuts. It looks like the Costa Rica nine, Colindres, puts a full on slap on a Serbia player. Could be a red card, might not. I'd argue that the players are just getting fired up late on - if it had been earlier in the game then it would have been in the ref's interests to sort things out further. 3:02PM Who stood out there then? Let's do some player ratings. Costa Rica (3-4-3 / 5-4-1) Navas 7, Gamboa 6, Acosta 6, González 6, Duarte 6, Calvo 7, Venegas 6, Guzmán 6, Borges 6, Ruiz 6, Ureña 5 Serbia (4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2) Stojkovic 6, Ivanovic 6, Tosic 6, Milenkovic 6, Kolarov 7, Milinkovic-Savic 8, Milivojevic 6, Matic 6, Ljajic 6, Tadic 7, Mitrovic 5 2:58PM Analysis Average touch positions (full time) A game of one half. Specifically the right for Serbia and left for Costa Rica. Passes kept going down the one side of the pitch. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:55PM FULL TIME Credit: AFP And that's it! Serbia get a deserved win against a spirited Costa Rica. Kolarov's free-kick was a thing of wonder and has won the points. 2:54PM 90 mins +7 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 More controversy here. Prijovic has caught someone off the ball with his forearm and Acosta throws himself to the floor. Is this a red card? The VAR is in use! Aaaaand it's a yellow card. Another good decision (IMO). 2:52PM 90 mins +5 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 VAR time! The referee is reviewing that decision! He wants to see if Matic should be in more trouble... but the VAR says no. Seems fair. Costa Rica keep coming... the ball is hooked in, headed down IT'S A CHANCE FOR BOLANOS! And he's missed from six yards! Thankfully, the linesman calls offside and he is miles ahead of the last man. What a miss though. Dreadful finish. 2:50PM 90 mins +4 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 That's poor from the substitute Rukavina. He loses possession then doesn't try to win it back but now Serbia are on the counter-attack, with men over! And the ball's been lost. And now Matic is involved with the bench! He's getting all fired up needlessly with the Costa Rica staff. 2:49PM 90 mins +3 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick 40 yards out, hit it in the area and it;s headed away. Gamboa goes for a distance wondergoal but his long range effort is saved by the goalkeeper easily. 2:47PM 90 mins +1 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 M-Savic has had a superb game. His timing of pass and movement off the ball is excellent. Serbia take Mitrovic off for Prijovic. Serbia come forward again - they have men over! Kostic spots the chance to shoot but blasts over the bar. So many players have been jumping their shots miles over. Practise required. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Filip Kostic, 90 min) 2:45PM 89 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 MITROVIC IS IN AGAIN! And he's wasted the chance again! Oh my word. He's so very nearly a great player - gets in the right positions, is strong but his finishing isn't all that. And here he gets into the box, slows down to wait for the ball to roll ahead of his body and the Costa Rica defender goes down. Mitrovic goes down too but I suspect that's more a problem of balance than an actual foul. No VAR for this incident. 2:43PM 87 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Stojkovic gets someone to help him tie his shoelaces. Cunning time-wasting tactic? Or cruel window into a life spent never learning to tie shoelaces? Only he really knows. 2:41PM 85 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica are now focusing most of their play down the right, targeting Kolarov. Nothing's coming off at the moment now, they're running out of ideas. 2:39PM 82 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell's been lively since coming on but you can kind of tell he's not played much recently. A half yard off the pace on the ball has given Serbia defenders opportunity to rob him of possession. Rukavina comes on for Tadic, which is almost certainly to give Ivanovic back-up at right-back. It might mean a 5-4-1 for Serbia. 2:36PM 80 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell tries to work space for a shot on the edge of the area but is blocked. M-Savic pulls off another beautiful bit of skill to take the ball round the outside of a midfielder and puts Serbia on the attack. They're starting to look a little tired now... 2:35PM 78 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: TASS Ooooh that should be 2-0. Tadic gets in behind on the right and squares the pass into the six yard box. Navas dives at it, gets a tiny flick on it and Kostic has a side foot to finish in an empty net. He gets it all wrong though and the net is unharmed. 2:32PM 76 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Colindres comes on for Guzman, which means Costa Rica have used all their substitutions up. Serbia fire some passes together and link well. M-Savic has the chance to shoot 25 yards out, takes the chance but balloons his effort way over the bar. 2:30PM 74 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell is in behind! There's a lucky deflection and Campbell gets ahead of Milenkovic but just isn't sharp enough to beat him to the ball and get a shot away. Corner. The goalie comes to get the cross but is nowhere near it. Like someone's thrown a scarecrow into the air at the ball. Serbia survive and Mitrovic shields the ball high up the pitch. 2:29PM 72 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica free-kick wide left... Campbell takes it and a Serbian head puts it clear. Kostic tries to break but the ball goes out of play, Serbia go back to their 4-4-1-1 shape and get behind the ball. 2:27PM 70 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell goes on a little dribble into the box but Ljajic puts in a great tackle and wins the ball. Costa Rica in a clear 3-4-3 now and making much snappier passes. Now Serbia are taking their turn to defend with blocks of four. Ljajic comes off for Kostic. 2:24PM 68 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Here comes Joel Campbell! Urena heads off. Look at the difference in possession now! Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:22PM 66 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES What a photo that is! The ball smashing into the back of the net from Kolarov's free-kick. Serbia have dropped really deep now they're 1-0 up... I wonder whether the best form of defence might actually be attacking Costa Rica more. They're inviting trouble like this. 2:20PM 64 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 1 - Kolarov has been the first Serbian player to score from direct free kick at the WC since Sinisa Mihajlovic v Iran on 14 June 1998 (including Yugoslavia). Southpaw. pic.twitter.com/yLePjJ0cmn— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 17, 2018 Costa Rica taking the game to Serbia now and Serbia are dropping further and further back. 2:18PM 62 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick in the final third but Serbia defend deep and head away. Costa Rica trying to get back into the game straight away. You're at your most vulnerable just after scoring goes the old saying. 2:16PM 60 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Serbia have the momentum now. Ljajic makes a run ahead of the defence and just can't get on the end of a chipped pass from Tadic. Will Costa Rica come out of their defensive shell now? 2:13PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! WHAT A HIT! KOLAVOC HAS SCORED! Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Aleksandar Kolarov, 56 min) Navas had absolutely no chance! It's a perfect free-kick, curled over the wall with power into the top corner. Goal: Serbia ( 56 min ) Unstoppable. 2:13PM 56 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win another free-kick in a dangerous area. Kolarov can shoot from here and seems to be lining one up. 2:12PM 55 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic gets a head on the ball as Duarte grabs hold of him in full view of the referee. Consistency in refereeing? There's not an awful lot of difference between that incident and the one yesterday that resulted in a penalty for Argentina. 2:11PM 54 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia enjoying more of the ball here. Kolarov curls a cross to the box and wins a corner as Calvo heads away at the back post. The referee has to sort out some pushing and pulling in the area. 2:09PM 52 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia are stretching the pitch and attacking through the middle more now. Although another cross from wide is collected from Navas. 2:08PM 50 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 HUGE MISS! Mitrovic breaks the offside trap, is one on one with Navas and his shot is terrible. Navas saves well but Mitrovic has to score there. What a massive moment that could prove to be. 2:07PM 49 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are on the right (light blue), Serbia the left (dark blue). 2:03PM 47 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic comes back to help out Ivanovic early on as Bryan Ruiz skins him on the left wing. No change of tactic here then. 2:02PM KICK-OFF 2 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica start the second half. We're back! 2:00PM Next up World Cup 2018 tactics: Why Germany's goalkeeper is key to how they attack Don't forget that after this game is Germany vs Mexico! You can join Alan Tyers in our liveblog coverage of that once this match is over. And not a moment sooner! Don't leave me. Please. 1:57PM Serbia's strikers Check the starting position of Milinkovic-Savic in possession. He's a central striker! Patrice Evra on him being linked with Man Utd: "You need to be a character, a personality. I'm afraid now you miss players playing for the passion. If you said 20 years ago Patrice you play for Manchester United and you don't even get paid, you do it." Doesn't really answer the question but I think I know what I mean. At least he hasn't literally applauded Aluko's football knowledge with this answer. 1:49PM Serbia's very attacking average positions That's a 2-4-4! Love it. Average touch positions (42 min) Look at the near-comical focus on one particular side of the pitch. Poor Ivanovic, he'll be knackered at the end of this. 1:47PM HALF TIME - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Thoroughly entertaining stuff there. Costa Rica targeting Ivanovic down the left and relying on quick counter-attacks, while Serbia have done well without really taking advantage of all their possession. Where there's Mitrovic there's a chance and Milinkovic-Savic has turned up in dangerous areas too. I can see a goal or two in the second half. 1:46PM 45 mins +1 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Borges should be booked for pulling Ljajic back just as he was about to get Serbia moving in the Costa Rica half... but Mitrovic is penalised for a tiny nudge on the back of Gonzalez. 1:44PM 44 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 MILINKOVIC-SAVIC BICYLE KICK! Saved by Navas! Wow. That would have been something else! Ivanovic chips into the box, the Lazio man goes for the spectacular, the linesman says he's offside. He isn't, so that goal would have counted if it had gone in. 1:42PM 42 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are enjoying the ball for a while. They've been on the back foot for quite a lot of the game so far, though this possession stat feels like it's way off. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia Calvo cuts inside from the left once more and tries a shot on his right foot... but drags it wide of the near post. Out: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Francisco Calvo, 42 min) 1:40PM 40 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ohhhh there's a slip in the Serbia defence by Tosic and it's given Costa Rica a chance to shoot. Urena takes it... but that's miles away. Calvo then wins a corner off Ivanovic, who isn't being given any peace. 1:37PM 38 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Both players appear OK to continue after a pause in play. What a collision that was though. Like a train battering into... another train. Or a Costa Rica defender. Anyway, they're alright. 1:35PM 36 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic wins a free-kick right in the corner. The big lads come up for the set piece, which Kolarov will whip in as in in-swinger. Navas Superman throws himself at it and punches away and then Tosic batters into Acosta while going for a header and both are in a lot of pain. 1:34PM 34 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ivanovic over-hits an early cross from wide right and puts it out for a goal kick. Costa Rica have been impressive with how they stop Serbia's build-up play. By blocking the passing option, Serbia don't really have anywhere to go other than long but are trying to keep the ball in defence until an opportunity to get forward opens up. 1:30PM 31 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are blocking the Serbian passing lanes with three forwards and two midfielders behind them, and it's forcing the defenders to really think about where they move the ball so as not to concede possession in a dangerous counter-attacking area. Once the ball is past the halfway line Costa Rica are a 5-4-1... Serbia need another option. And there it is - the chipped pass to Mitrovic. 1:28PM 29 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Bit chance! Super run off the ball by Milinkovic-Savic but he doesn't get the ball out of his feet as a pass over the top puts him through on goal. A low shot is saved easily by Navas but the offside flag had one anyway. He gets away with that miss. 1:26PM 27 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great take by Tadic. The pass is fired straight at him at pace and he controls and flicks the ball on to keep a move going. It just won't drop for Mitrovic in the area and his shot is blocked. 1:24PM 25 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: AFP Serbia are focusing their attacks through the middle then moving play out to the right wing once in the final third. Costa Rica survive another decent move but Serbia are back in possession. You can see they're favouring that right wing here: Serbia crosses Calvo is the left wing-back and is on a yellow card now too. 1:22PM 23 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica get in down the left again though and... that's a shocking tackle. He doesn't mean to go in as heavy as he does but Calvo is rightly booked for a late slide tackle near the corner on Tadic. That's the sort of challenge you put in for a laugh on Pro Evo. 1:21PM 21 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia switch the play a couple of times but Costa Rica look organised and shift over to deny the space and win possession back. Serbia are getting Tadic deeper with Matic helping out on the right now to make sure Ivanovic isn't exposed. 1:19PM 19 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win a free-kick about 35 yards from goal and this will be aimed towards Mitrovic. The referee has to tell Guzman to stand further back from the kick but doesn't book him. The ball goes in, is headed at the back post... and Costa Rica manage to get it away then drop into their low block. 1:16PM 17 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great save by Navas! Serbia have men over, Ivanovic overlaps down the right and dribbles past his man but Navas blocks the low cross into the area. Serbia might be in again! Tadic chips to the back post for Mitrovic but nobody is following up. Milinkovic-Savic has had a couple of lovely touches in the approach play to both those moves. 1:14PM 15 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic receives the ball on the edge of the box, moves it onto his right foot and shoots but the effort is blocked and Navas catches. Costa Rica attack down the left wing again - they're targeting Ivanovic at right-back. Serbia look ropey at the back here. A dreadful pass forward has nearly gifted Costa Rica the chance to break with an overload but the centre-backs just about to manage to see out the danger. 1:12PM 13 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 FREE HEADER! What a miss! Oh my word. A short corner, the second cross gives Gonzalez a completely free header. Dreadful defending from Serbia - what were they doing there? Total chaos in the second phase of that set piece and Costa Rica should be 1-0 up. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Giancarlo González, 12 min) Gonzalez can't believe he's put that miles over the bar. 1:11PM 11 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Costa Rica are looking to use their pace to take on the full-backs. Ivanovic and Kolarov aren't the young men they once were but still have a bit speed left in the legs - Costa Rica look like they might have the running of them though. Costa Rica win a corner. 1:09PM 9 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are quick and break with three forwards. It's not quite coming together for them in the final third for now but they've been able to run with the ball in Serbia's half a couple of times now. 1:07PM 7 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mitrovic is causing problems with his strength upfront and Serbia are looking for him with long throws and chipped passes. Serbia attack through the middle, the ball drops to Kolarov and he tries a shot from 30 yards but pings it wide of goal. 1:05PM 5 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia get up the pitch and win another corner. Both teams are attacking quickly and it's already entertaining. Serbia can't get space in the area thanks to the close attentions of the Costa Rica defence and Kolarov fouls Gamboa while trying to win the second ball from the corner. Costa Rica go long. 1:03PM 3 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 But now Costa Rica are in! Urena gets in behind the defence after a Ruiz pass puts him there and he wins a corner! Mitrovic is back defending now and powers a header away from goal. Calvo joins in down the left and hooks a swinging cross into the area and GONZALEZ IS THERE! But his header is straight at the goalkeeper! What a start this is! 1:01PM 2 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia start with the ball and Mitrovic gets a touch inside the area within 30 seconds. Corner. If he'd controlled that properly he was in for a shot from about 10 yards! The corner comes in and it's headed at goal! Navas looks frantic as he hops onto his other foot... but the referee has spotted a foul. The sign of things to come? 1:00PM KICK OFF Here we go! 12:55PM National anthems 12:54PM Here come the players! Costa Rica will be a 5-4-1 and try to keep things tight and take advantage of counter-attack situations while Serbia will be a 4-2-3-1. The wing-backs will get forward, the defence will be protected by Matic and Milivojevic and Milinkovic-Savic will support Mitrovic throughout. 12:47PM Evra's wearing a tin foil hat Paul Pogba's goal against Australia has been taken away from him. It's an own goal now (because it is...) and Evra has just said he wishes people would leave Paul alone. "If it was Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo I wonder if they would take that goal away," he says. Perhaps he's preparing some sort of speech about jet fuel and steel beams for half time. Patrice Evra showing surprise and actually *clapping* Eni Aluko’s analysis... awful, patronising— Omar Chaudhuri (@OmarChaudhuri) June 17, 2018 12:45PM The warm-ups Credit: GETTY IMAGES The players are just finishing their warm-ups and soon they'll be out on the pitch ready to put on a spectacle. Kolarov was holding his knee for a bit of it but I'm not sure if he's picked up a knock or something during his little pre-match routine. Now, if you'd like to get updates sent to your phone on Whatsapp, sign up for this thing we have here: World Cup whatsapp promo It keeps you up to date with all the news and scores from the games. 12:39PM Take care of the ball and the ball will take care of you Vladimir Stojkovic �� Serbia’s goalkeeper kisses the ball after every save he makes! #SRB#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/JEjD9gYCu8— Kay Murray (@KayLMurray) June 17, 2018 12:38PM Evra is impressed by a woman knowing football "Wow I'm really impressed, she knows more about the game than us," says Evra, in a somewhat* patronising way to Eni Aluko. Do your research pal. ITV have been pretty good at getting their pundits well read before going on air to be fair. Aluko has been explaining what makes Milinkovic-Savic such a threat, detailing his ability to play with the ball at feet but that he's also great at attacking and will support Mitrovic throughout today's game. *incredibly. 12:33PM The current and ex-pros' opinions "They're a strong defensive team but they don't score a lot of goals," says Eni Aluko of Costa Rica. Henrik Larsson and Patrice Evra make up the rest of ITV's pundits bench today. That's a strong lineup. 12:27PM Ivanovic becomes Serbia's all-time most capped player Credit: FIFA Today is his 104th cap, so assuming nothing changes before kick-off he will become the most capped player in the history of Serbia, surpassing Dejan Stankovic. But the real question is how tall is he compared to Mel from Mel and Sue? At 6 feet tall that makes him 1.something Mels from Mel and Sue. 12:24PM Inside the dressing rooms Credit: FIFA Credit: FIFA 12:22PM Our lovely new columnist Cesc Fabregas has joined our writing team for the World Cup and his first couple of columns are already up on the website. You can read his thoughts on Raheem Sterling here. Cesc Fabregas column: England's Raheem Sterling can deliver on the biggest stage 12:17PM Star players to look out for Keylor Navas is by far and away the best player on this Costa Rica team and according to my handy Football Manager database app (their database is used as a scouting tool by top level clubs around the world...), with an average rating of 81 he's way ahead of Borges and Campbell, both rated at 69. Bryan Ruiz shares the same rating... and then everything goes a bit south from there. Serbia meanwhile have some of the most highly rated young players in the world. Predrag Rajkovic is on the bench but at a base level 67 is expected to be about an 85 at some point in his career. I realise some of you might think I'm talking nonsense using a video game's database but their hit rate and accuracy is awesome. Matic - 78, Milinkovic-Savic -78, Adem Ljajic - 72, Aleksandar Kolarov -73... I think you get the idea. If Serbia can work their way around the Costa Rica low block and avoid making any particularly silly mistakes, they should really win this. 12:06PM Those teams in written form Costa Rica (3-5-2 / 5-4-1) Navas, Gamboa, Acosta, González, Duarte, Calvo, Venegas, Guzmán, Borges, Ruiz, Ureña Serbia (4-2-3-1) Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Tosic, Milenkovic, Kolarov, Milinkovic-Savic, Milivojevic, Matic, Ljajic, Tadic, Mitrovic Got to think Serbia are missing a trick leaving all the Football Manager wonderkids out. Zivkovic and Rajkovic on the bench? What is this - amateur hour? pic.twitter.com/LiPrSQumMX— JJ Bull (@jj_bull) June 17, 2018 12:00PM Starting lineups 10 'ic' and one Kolarov: Who's ready for the first match of the day? Here are the teams for #CRCSRB ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/np2DCvEQ78— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 17, 2018 11:59AM The best kits World Cup kits ranked 11:47AM Where is today's game? Well that would be the Samara Arena of course: World Cup 2018 stadium: Samara Arena And as we all know [looks down at phone] it is is the sixth largest city in Russia. This is what the stadium looks like.: Credit: FIFA And the inside is even cooler: Credit: REUTERS 11:40AM Welcome! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for Costa Rica vs Serbia, a match which should be really entertaining and one I'm looking forward to. Yesterday was another brilliant day of World Cup football notable for featuring several high profile VAR moments - it seems like having that extra help has really allowed referees to make some attack-minded decisions and goals make games great. So what to expect today? Serbia have the better (arguably - and I will argue it) group of players with several wonderkids supplemented by hardworking others. Nemanja Matic can run the midfield, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is one of the hottest prospects in football and Dusan Tadic is guaranteed to create chances to score. “As far as this story about me lacking experience, I don’t have any problem because I am working with professional players who prove themselves in clubs across Europe,” their manager Mladen Krstajic said. “My conscience is clear because we are working really well and have been together for three weeks. These are things that make me happy. “We have to be focused, responsible. When I met my squad for the first time I said let's relax, be friends off the pitch, but when comes to matches, everyone has to be responsible.” Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players In the red corner, Costa Rica aren't quite so strong but do have Keylor Navas in goal. You know, the Real Madrid guy. Yeh, him. Other than that, Arsenal's eternally nomadic loanee Joel Campbell is perhaps their best bet of getting a result with Celso Borges the most likely to set someone up for a goal. They didn't impress at all in defeat to England recently and were hammered by Belgium too - today is a massive test. Team news should be with us soon and I'll endeavour to bring you that as well as all the build-up and then analysis of the live action. Stick around to join in the fun.
Aleksandar Kolarov produced a ­moment of captain’s inspiration, curling home a superb free-kick as Serbia got their Group E campaign up and running on Sunday. The former Manchester City full-back had appeared to be injured in the warm-up but recovered to curl in the winner against Costa Rica. Serbia had dominated the match but chances were at a premium 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 lifted a weight from coach Mladen Krstajic, in what was his first competitive game. “There was a great deal of pressure on the team, and on me, over the past seven months,” said Krstajic, who took the job in October. Krstajic’s relief was matched in equal measure by the disappointment of Oscar Ramirez, the Costa Rica manager, whose side are now in a precarious position. “Maybe we have lost a certain margin for qualifying,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult, but our intention remains the same. I told the lads ‘This isn’t over’.” Aleksandar Kolarov struck a wonderful free-kick to win all three points for Serbia Credit: REUTERS If Costa Rica are going to recover, they will need to rediscover the defensive organisation and clinical counter-attacks that propelled them to the quarter-finals four years ago. Serbia found it hard to break them down, but they rarely looked troubled at the back and, barring a late half-chance for substitute Joel Campbell, they coasted through the game. The match began in furious ­fashion, with Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic having a header scooped off the line and Costa Rica’s Giancarlo Gonzalez failing to convert two headed chances. But it soon 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. Mitrovic failed to find the net with a good chance early in the second half, but it mattered little when Kolarov, the AS Roma left-back, produced his moment of magic, curling a free kick, left-footed, over the wall and past the despairing dive of Navas. “It is great to have three points, but we are not finished. I don’t want to do the maths yet,” Kolarov said. Match details Costa Rica (3-4-3): Navas (Real Madrid) 7; Gamboa (Celtic) 6, Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas) 6, Gonzalez (Bologna) 6; Duarte (Espanyol) 6, Calvo (Minnesota) 7, Venegas (Saprissa) 6, Guzman (Portland) 6; Borges (Coruna) 6, Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon) 6, Urena (Los Angeles) 5. Subs: Campbell (Arsenal) for Urena 73, Bolanos (Saprissa) for Venegas 60, Colindres (Saprissa) for Guzman 73. Booked: Guzman, Calvo. Serbia (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic (Partizan) 6; Ivanovic (Zenit) 6, Tosic (Besiktas) 6, Milenkovic (Fiorentina) 6, Kolarov (Roma) 7; Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) 8, Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) 6; Matic (Man Utd) 6, Ljajic (Torino) 7, Tadic (Southampton) 6; Mitrovic (Newcastle) 6. Subs: Kostic (Hamburg) for Ljajic 70, Rukavina (Villarreal) for Tadic 83, Prijovic (PAOK) for Mitrovic 90. Booked: Prijovic. Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal). 3:08PM Some full-time stats for you After losing five consecutive World Cup games between 1998 and 2010, Serbia have since won two of their last three in the competition (L1). Serbia have won their opening game at a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1998, when they did so as Yugoslavia against Iran (1-0). Serbia have now won all four of their World Cup games against teams from the CONCACAF region, with the first three of those coming as Yugoslavia between 1950 and 1998. Costa Rica suffered their first defeat at the World Cup since 2006 (1-2 v Poland), ending a run of five games unbeaten in the competition (W2 D3). And my favourite of all: Aleksandar Kolarov’s goal for Serbia was the third direct free-kick scored at this year’s World Cup (after Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo), which is already as many as there were in the entire 2014 tournament in Brazil. 3:05PM Next up It's Germany vs Mexico! Join Alan Tyers in our World Cup liveblog as he brings you the team news, updates and analysis from the match. 3:05PM The referee separating the players Credit: GETTY IMAGES This is that little rammy towards the end when Matic went nuts. It looks like the Costa Rica nine, Colindres, puts a full on slap on a Serbia player. Could be a red card, might not. I'd argue that the players are just getting fired up late on - if it had been earlier in the game then it would have been in the ref's interests to sort things out further. 3:02PM Who stood out there then? Let's do some player ratings. Costa Rica (3-4-3 / 5-4-1) Navas 7, Gamboa 6, Acosta 6, González 6, Duarte 6, Calvo 7, Venegas 6, Guzmán 6, Borges 6, Ruiz 6, Ureña 5 Serbia (4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2) Stojkovic 6, Ivanovic 6, Tosic 6, Milenkovic 6, Kolarov 7, Milinkovic-Savic 8, Milivojevic 6, Matic 6, Ljajic 6, Tadic 7, Mitrovic 5 2:58PM Analysis Average touch positions (full time) A game of one half. Specifically the right for Serbia and left for Costa Rica. Passes kept going down the one side of the pitch. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:55PM FULL TIME Credit: AFP And that's it! Serbia get a deserved win against a spirited Costa Rica. Kolarov's free-kick was a thing of wonder and has won the points. 2:54PM 90 mins +7 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 More controversy here. Prijovic has caught someone off the ball with his forearm and Acosta throws himself to the floor. Is this a red card? The VAR is in use! Aaaaand it's a yellow card. Another good decision (IMO). 2:52PM 90 mins +5 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 VAR time! The referee is reviewing that decision! He wants to see if Matic should be in more trouble... but the VAR says no. Seems fair. Costa Rica keep coming... the ball is hooked in, headed down IT'S A CHANCE FOR BOLANOS! And he's missed from six yards! Thankfully, the linesman calls offside and he is miles ahead of the last man. What a miss though. Dreadful finish. 2:50PM 90 mins +4 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 That's poor from the substitute Rukavina. He loses possession then doesn't try to win it back but now Serbia are on the counter-attack, with men over! And the ball's been lost. And now Matic is involved with the bench! He's getting all fired up needlessly with the Costa Rica staff. 2:49PM 90 mins +3 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick 40 yards out, hit it in the area and it;s headed away. Gamboa goes for a distance wondergoal but his long range effort is saved by the goalkeeper easily. 2:47PM 90 mins +1 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 M-Savic has had a superb game. His timing of pass and movement off the ball is excellent. Serbia take Mitrovic off for Prijovic. Serbia come forward again - they have men over! Kostic spots the chance to shoot but blasts over the bar. So many players have been jumping their shots miles over. Practise required. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Filip Kostic, 90 min) 2:45PM 89 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 MITROVIC IS IN AGAIN! And he's wasted the chance again! Oh my word. He's so very nearly a great player - gets in the right positions, is strong but his finishing isn't all that. And here he gets into the box, slows down to wait for the ball to roll ahead of his body and the Costa Rica defender goes down. Mitrovic goes down too but I suspect that's more a problem of balance than an actual foul. No VAR for this incident. 2:43PM 87 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Stojkovic gets someone to help him tie his shoelaces. Cunning time-wasting tactic? Or cruel window into a life spent never learning to tie shoelaces? Only he really knows. 2:41PM 85 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica are now focusing most of their play down the right, targeting Kolarov. Nothing's coming off at the moment now, they're running out of ideas. 2:39PM 82 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell's been lively since coming on but you can kind of tell he's not played much recently. A half yard off the pace on the ball has given Serbia defenders opportunity to rob him of possession. Rukavina comes on for Tadic, which is almost certainly to give Ivanovic back-up at right-back. It might mean a 5-4-1 for Serbia. 2:36PM 80 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell tries to work space for a shot on the edge of the area but is blocked. M-Savic pulls off another beautiful bit of skill to take the ball round the outside of a midfielder and puts Serbia on the attack. They're starting to look a little tired now... 2:35PM 78 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: TASS Ooooh that should be 2-0. Tadic gets in behind on the right and squares the pass into the six yard box. Navas dives at it, gets a tiny flick on it and Kostic has a side foot to finish in an empty net. He gets it all wrong though and the net is unharmed. 2:32PM 76 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Colindres comes on for Guzman, which means Costa Rica have used all their substitutions up. Serbia fire some passes together and link well. M-Savic has the chance to shoot 25 yards out, takes the chance but balloons his effort way over the bar. 2:30PM 74 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell is in behind! There's a lucky deflection and Campbell gets ahead of Milenkovic but just isn't sharp enough to beat him to the ball and get a shot away. Corner. The goalie comes to get the cross but is nowhere near it. Like someone's thrown a scarecrow into the air at the ball. Serbia survive and Mitrovic shields the ball high up the pitch. 2:29PM 72 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica free-kick wide left... Campbell takes it and a Serbian head puts it clear. Kostic tries to break but the ball goes out of play, Serbia go back to their 4-4-1-1 shape and get behind the ball. 2:27PM 70 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell goes on a little dribble into the box but Ljajic puts in a great tackle and wins the ball. Costa Rica in a clear 3-4-3 now and making much snappier passes. Now Serbia are taking their turn to defend with blocks of four. Ljajic comes off for Kostic. 2:24PM 68 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Here comes Joel Campbell! Urena heads off. Look at the difference in possession now! Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:22PM 66 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES What a photo that is! The ball smashing into the back of the net from Kolarov's free-kick. Serbia have dropped really deep now they're 1-0 up... I wonder whether the best form of defence might actually be attacking Costa Rica more. They're inviting trouble like this. 2:20PM 64 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 1 - Kolarov has been the first Serbian player to score from direct free kick at the WC since Sinisa Mihajlovic v Iran on 14 June 1998 (including Yugoslavia). Southpaw. pic.twitter.com/yLePjJ0cmn— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 17, 2018 Costa Rica taking the game to Serbia now and Serbia are dropping further and further back. 2:18PM 62 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick in the final third but Serbia defend deep and head away. Costa Rica trying to get back into the game straight away. You're at your most vulnerable just after scoring goes the old saying. 2:16PM 60 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Serbia have the momentum now. Ljajic makes a run ahead of the defence and just can't get on the end of a chipped pass from Tadic. Will Costa Rica come out of their defensive shell now? 2:13PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! WHAT A HIT! KOLAVOC HAS SCORED! Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Aleksandar Kolarov, 56 min) Navas had absolutely no chance! It's a perfect free-kick, curled over the wall with power into the top corner. Goal: Serbia ( 56 min ) Unstoppable. 2:13PM 56 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win another free-kick in a dangerous area. Kolarov can shoot from here and seems to be lining one up. 2:12PM 55 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic gets a head on the ball as Duarte grabs hold of him in full view of the referee. Consistency in refereeing? There's not an awful lot of difference between that incident and the one yesterday that resulted in a penalty for Argentina. 2:11PM 54 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia enjoying more of the ball here. Kolarov curls a cross to the box and wins a corner as Calvo heads away at the back post. The referee has to sort out some pushing and pulling in the area. 2:09PM 52 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia are stretching the pitch and attacking through the middle more now. Although another cross from wide is collected from Navas. 2:08PM 50 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 HUGE MISS! Mitrovic breaks the offside trap, is one on one with Navas and his shot is terrible. Navas saves well but Mitrovic has to score there. What a massive moment that could prove to be. 2:07PM 49 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are on the right (light blue), Serbia the left (dark blue). 2:03PM 47 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic comes back to help out Ivanovic early on as Bryan Ruiz skins him on the left wing. No change of tactic here then. 2:02PM KICK-OFF 2 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica start the second half. We're back! 2:00PM Next up World Cup 2018 tactics: Why Germany's goalkeeper is key to how they attack Don't forget that after this game is Germany vs Mexico! You can join Alan Tyers in our liveblog coverage of that once this match is over. And not a moment sooner! Don't leave me. Please. 1:57PM Serbia's strikers Check the starting position of Milinkovic-Savic in possession. He's a central striker! Patrice Evra on him being linked with Man Utd: "You need to be a character, a personality. I'm afraid now you miss players playing for the passion. If you said 20 years ago Patrice you play for Manchester United and you don't even get paid, you do it." Doesn't really answer the question but I think I know what I mean. At least he hasn't literally applauded Aluko's football knowledge with this answer. 1:49PM Serbia's very attacking average positions That's a 2-4-4! Love it. Average touch positions (42 min) Look at the near-comical focus on one particular side of the pitch. Poor Ivanovic, he'll be knackered at the end of this. 1:47PM HALF TIME - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Thoroughly entertaining stuff there. Costa Rica targeting Ivanovic down the left and relying on quick counter-attacks, while Serbia have done well without really taking advantage of all their possession. Where there's Mitrovic there's a chance and Milinkovic-Savic has turned up in dangerous areas too. I can see a goal or two in the second half. 1:46PM 45 mins +1 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Borges should be booked for pulling Ljajic back just as he was about to get Serbia moving in the Costa Rica half... but Mitrovic is penalised for a tiny nudge on the back of Gonzalez. 1:44PM 44 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 MILINKOVIC-SAVIC BICYLE KICK! Saved by Navas! Wow. That would have been something else! Ivanovic chips into the box, the Lazio man goes for the spectacular, the linesman says he's offside. He isn't, so that goal would have counted if it had gone in. 1:42PM 42 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are enjoying the ball for a while. They've been on the back foot for quite a lot of the game so far, though this possession stat feels like it's way off. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia Calvo cuts inside from the left once more and tries a shot on his right foot... but drags it wide of the near post. Out: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Francisco Calvo, 42 min) 1:40PM 40 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ohhhh there's a slip in the Serbia defence by Tosic and it's given Costa Rica a chance to shoot. Urena takes it... but that's miles away. Calvo then wins a corner off Ivanovic, who isn't being given any peace. 1:37PM 38 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Both players appear OK to continue after a pause in play. What a collision that was though. Like a train battering into... another train. Or a Costa Rica defender. Anyway, they're alright. 1:35PM 36 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic wins a free-kick right in the corner. The big lads come up for the set piece, which Kolarov will whip in as in in-swinger. Navas Superman throws himself at it and punches away and then Tosic batters into Acosta while going for a header and both are in a lot of pain. 1:34PM 34 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ivanovic over-hits an early cross from wide right and puts it out for a goal kick. Costa Rica have been impressive with how they stop Serbia's build-up play. By blocking the passing option, Serbia don't really have anywhere to go other than long but are trying to keep the ball in defence until an opportunity to get forward opens up. 1:30PM 31 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are blocking the Serbian passing lanes with three forwards and two midfielders behind them, and it's forcing the defenders to really think about where they move the ball so as not to concede possession in a dangerous counter-attacking area. Once the ball is past the halfway line Costa Rica are a 5-4-1... Serbia need another option. And there it is - the chipped pass to Mitrovic. 1:28PM 29 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Bit chance! Super run off the ball by Milinkovic-Savic but he doesn't get the ball out of his feet as a pass over the top puts him through on goal. A low shot is saved easily by Navas but the offside flag had one anyway. He gets away with that miss. 1:26PM 27 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great take by Tadic. The pass is fired straight at him at pace and he controls and flicks the ball on to keep a move going. It just won't drop for Mitrovic in the area and his shot is blocked. 1:24PM 25 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: AFP Serbia are focusing their attacks through the middle then moving play out to the right wing once in the final third. Costa Rica survive another decent move but Serbia are back in possession. You can see they're favouring that right wing here: Serbia crosses Calvo is the left wing-back and is on a yellow card now too. 1:22PM 23 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica get in down the left again though and... that's a shocking tackle. He doesn't mean to go in as heavy as he does but Calvo is rightly booked for a late slide tackle near the corner on Tadic. That's the sort of challenge you put in for a laugh on Pro Evo. 1:21PM 21 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia switch the play a couple of times but Costa Rica look organised and shift over to deny the space and win possession back. Serbia are getting Tadic deeper with Matic helping out on the right now to make sure Ivanovic isn't exposed. 1:19PM 19 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win a free-kick about 35 yards from goal and this will be aimed towards Mitrovic. The referee has to tell Guzman to stand further back from the kick but doesn't book him. The ball goes in, is headed at the back post... and Costa Rica manage to get it away then drop into their low block. 1:16PM 17 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great save by Navas! Serbia have men over, Ivanovic overlaps down the right and dribbles past his man but Navas blocks the low cross into the area. Serbia might be in again! Tadic chips to the back post for Mitrovic but nobody is following up. Milinkovic-Savic has had a couple of lovely touches in the approach play to both those moves. 1:14PM 15 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic receives the ball on the edge of the box, moves it onto his right foot and shoots but the effort is blocked and Navas catches. Costa Rica attack down the left wing again - they're targeting Ivanovic at right-back. Serbia look ropey at the back here. A dreadful pass forward has nearly gifted Costa Rica the chance to break with an overload but the centre-backs just about to manage to see out the danger. 1:12PM 13 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 FREE HEADER! What a miss! Oh my word. A short corner, the second cross gives Gonzalez a completely free header. Dreadful defending from Serbia - what were they doing there? Total chaos in the second phase of that set piece and Costa Rica should be 1-0 up. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Giancarlo González, 12 min) Gonzalez can't believe he's put that miles over the bar. 1:11PM 11 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Costa Rica are looking to use their pace to take on the full-backs. Ivanovic and Kolarov aren't the young men they once were but still have a bit speed left in the legs - Costa Rica look like they might have the running of them though. Costa Rica win a corner. 1:09PM 9 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are quick and break with three forwards. It's not quite coming together for them in the final third for now but they've been able to run with the ball in Serbia's half a couple of times now. 1:07PM 7 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mitrovic is causing problems with his strength upfront and Serbia are looking for him with long throws and chipped passes. Serbia attack through the middle, the ball drops to Kolarov and he tries a shot from 30 yards but pings it wide of goal. 1:05PM 5 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia get up the pitch and win another corner. Both teams are attacking quickly and it's already entertaining. Serbia can't get space in the area thanks to the close attentions of the Costa Rica defence and Kolarov fouls Gamboa while trying to win the second ball from the corner. Costa Rica go long. 1:03PM 3 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 But now Costa Rica are in! Urena gets in behind the defence after a Ruiz pass puts him there and he wins a corner! Mitrovic is back defending now and powers a header away from goal. Calvo joins in down the left and hooks a swinging cross into the area and GONZALEZ IS THERE! But his header is straight at the goalkeeper! What a start this is! 1:01PM 2 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia start with the ball and Mitrovic gets a touch inside the area within 30 seconds. Corner. If he'd controlled that properly he was in for a shot from about 10 yards! The corner comes in and it's headed at goal! Navas looks frantic as he hops onto his other foot... but the referee has spotted a foul. The sign of things to come? 1:00PM KICK OFF Here we go! 12:55PM National anthems 12:54PM Here come the players! Costa Rica will be a 5-4-1 and try to keep things tight and take advantage of counter-attack situations while Serbia will be a 4-2-3-1. The wing-backs will get forward, the defence will be protected by Matic and Milivojevic and Milinkovic-Savic will support Mitrovic throughout. 12:47PM Evra's wearing a tin foil hat Paul Pogba's goal against Australia has been taken away from him. It's an own goal now (because it is...) and Evra has just said he wishes people would leave Paul alone. "If it was Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo I wonder if they would take that goal away," he says. Perhaps he's preparing some sort of speech about jet fuel and steel beams for half time. Patrice Evra showing surprise and actually *clapping* Eni Aluko’s analysis... awful, patronising— Omar Chaudhuri (@OmarChaudhuri) June 17, 2018 12:45PM The warm-ups Credit: GETTY IMAGES The players are just finishing their warm-ups and soon they'll be out on the pitch ready to put on a spectacle. Kolarov was holding his knee for a bit of it but I'm not sure if he's picked up a knock or something during his little pre-match routine. Now, if you'd like to get updates sent to your phone on Whatsapp, sign up for this thing we have here: World Cup whatsapp promo It keeps you up to date with all the news and scores from the games. 12:39PM Take care of the ball and the ball will take care of you Vladimir Stojkovic �� Serbia’s goalkeeper kisses the ball after every save he makes! #SRB#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/JEjD9gYCu8— Kay Murray (@KayLMurray) June 17, 2018 12:38PM Evra is impressed by a woman knowing football "Wow I'm really impressed, she knows more about the game than us," says Evra, in a somewhat* patronising way to Eni Aluko. Do your research pal. ITV have been pretty good at getting their pundits well read before going on air to be fair. Aluko has been explaining what makes Milinkovic-Savic such a threat, detailing his ability to play with the ball at feet but that he's also great at attacking and will support Mitrovic throughout today's game. *incredibly. 12:33PM The current and ex-pros' opinions "They're a strong defensive team but they don't score a lot of goals," says Eni Aluko of Costa Rica. Henrik Larsson and Patrice Evra make up the rest of ITV's pundits bench today. That's a strong lineup. 12:27PM Ivanovic becomes Serbia's all-time most capped player Credit: FIFA Today is his 104th cap, so assuming nothing changes before kick-off he will become the most capped player in the history of Serbia, surpassing Dejan Stankovic. But the real question is how tall is he compared to Mel from Mel and Sue? At 6 feet tall that makes him 1.something Mels from Mel and Sue. 12:24PM Inside the dressing rooms Credit: FIFA Credit: FIFA 12:22PM Our lovely new columnist Cesc Fabregas has joined our writing team for the World Cup and his first couple of columns are already up on the website. You can read his thoughts on Raheem Sterling here. Cesc Fabregas column: England's Raheem Sterling can deliver on the biggest stage 12:17PM Star players to look out for Keylor Navas is by far and away the best player on this Costa Rica team and according to my handy Football Manager database app (their database is used as a scouting tool by top level clubs around the world...), with an average rating of 81 he's way ahead of Borges and Campbell, both rated at 69. Bryan Ruiz shares the same rating... and then everything goes a bit south from there. Serbia meanwhile have some of the most highly rated young players in the world. Predrag Rajkovic is on the bench but at a base level 67 is expected to be about an 85 at some point in his career. I realise some of you might think I'm talking nonsense using a video game's database but their hit rate and accuracy is awesome. Matic - 78, Milinkovic-Savic -78, Adem Ljajic - 72, Aleksandar Kolarov -73... I think you get the idea. If Serbia can work their way around the Costa Rica low block and avoid making any particularly silly mistakes, they should really win this. 12:06PM Those teams in written form Costa Rica (3-5-2 / 5-4-1) Navas, Gamboa, Acosta, González, Duarte, Calvo, Venegas, Guzmán, Borges, Ruiz, Ureña Serbia (4-2-3-1) Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Tosic, Milenkovic, Kolarov, Milinkovic-Savic, Milivojevic, Matic, Ljajic, Tadic, Mitrovic Got to think Serbia are missing a trick leaving all the Football Manager wonderkids out. Zivkovic and Rajkovic on the bench? What is this - amateur hour? pic.twitter.com/LiPrSQumMX— JJ Bull (@jj_bull) June 17, 2018 12:00PM Starting lineups 10 'ic' and one Kolarov: Who's ready for the first match of the day? Here are the teams for #CRCSRB ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/np2DCvEQ78— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 17, 2018 11:59AM The best kits World Cup kits ranked 11:47AM Where is today's game? Well that would be the Samara Arena of course: World Cup 2018 stadium: Samara Arena And as we all know [looks down at phone] it is is the sixth largest city in Russia. This is what the stadium looks like.: Credit: FIFA And the inside is even cooler: Credit: REUTERS 11:40AM Welcome! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for Costa Rica vs Serbia, a match which should be really entertaining and one I'm looking forward to. Yesterday was another brilliant day of World Cup football notable for featuring several high profile VAR moments - it seems like having that extra help has really allowed referees to make some attack-minded decisions and goals make games great. So what to expect today? Serbia have the better (arguably - and I will argue it) group of players with several wonderkids supplemented by hardworking others. Nemanja Matic can run the midfield, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is one of the hottest prospects in football and Dusan Tadic is guaranteed to create chances to score. “As far as this story about me lacking experience, I don’t have any problem because I am working with professional players who prove themselves in clubs across Europe,” their manager Mladen Krstajic said. “My conscience is clear because we are working really well and have been together for three weeks. These are things that make me happy. “We have to be focused, responsible. When I met my squad for the first time I said let's relax, be friends off the pitch, but when comes to matches, everyone has to be responsible.” Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players In the red corner, Costa Rica aren't quite so strong but do have Keylor Navas in goal. You know, the Real Madrid guy. Yeh, him. Other than that, Arsenal's eternally nomadic loanee Joel Campbell is perhaps their best bet of getting a result with Celso Borges the most likely to set someone up for a goal. They didn't impress at all in defeat to England recently and were hammered by Belgium too - today is a massive test. Team news should be with us soon and I'll endeavour to bring you that as well as all the build-up and then analysis of the live action. Stick around to join in the fun.
Aleksandar Kolarov scores sensational free-kick as Serbia claim hard-fought World Cup 2018 win against Costa Rica
Aleksandar Kolarov produced a ­moment of captain’s inspiration, curling home a superb free-kick as Serbia got their Group E campaign up and running on Sunday. The former Manchester City full-back had appeared to be injured in the warm-up but recovered to curl in the winner against Costa Rica. Serbia had dominated the match but chances were at a premium 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 lifted a weight from coach Mladen Krstajic, in what was his first competitive game. “There was a great deal of pressure on the team, and on me, over the past seven months,” said Krstajic, who took the job in October. Krstajic’s relief was matched in equal measure by the disappointment of Oscar Ramirez, the Costa Rica manager, whose side are now in a precarious position. “Maybe we have lost a certain margin for qualifying,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult, but our intention remains the same. I told the lads ‘This isn’t over’.” Aleksandar Kolarov struck a wonderful free-kick to win all three points for Serbia Credit: REUTERS If Costa Rica are going to recover, they will need to rediscover the defensive organisation and clinical counter-attacks that propelled them to the quarter-finals four years ago. Serbia found it hard to break them down, but they rarely looked troubled at the back and, barring a late half-chance for substitute Joel Campbell, they coasted through the game. The match began in furious ­fashion, with Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic having a header scooped off the line and Costa Rica’s Giancarlo Gonzalez failing to convert two headed chances. But it soon 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. Mitrovic failed to find the net with a good chance early in the second half, but it mattered little when Kolarov, the AS Roma left-back, produced his moment of magic, curling a free kick, left-footed, over the wall and past the despairing dive of Navas. “It is great to have three points, but we are not finished. I don’t want to do the maths yet,” Kolarov said. Match details Costa Rica (3-4-3): Navas (Real Madrid) 7; Gamboa (Celtic) 6, Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas) 6, Gonzalez (Bologna) 6; Duarte (Espanyol) 6, Calvo (Minnesota) 7, Venegas (Saprissa) 6, Guzman (Portland) 6; Borges (Coruna) 6, Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon) 6, Urena (Los Angeles) 5. Subs: Campbell (Arsenal) for Urena 73, Bolanos (Saprissa) for Venegas 60, Colindres (Saprissa) for Guzman 73. Booked: Guzman, Calvo. Serbia (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic (Partizan) 6; Ivanovic (Zenit) 6, Tosic (Besiktas) 6, Milenkovic (Fiorentina) 6, Kolarov (Roma) 7; Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) 8, Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) 6; Matic (Man Utd) 6, Ljajic (Torino) 7, Tadic (Southampton) 6; Mitrovic (Newcastle) 6. Subs: Kostic (Hamburg) for Ljajic 70, Rukavina (Villarreal) for Tadic 83, Prijovic (PAOK) for Mitrovic 90. Booked: Prijovic. Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal). 3:08PM Some full-time stats for you After losing five consecutive World Cup games between 1998 and 2010, Serbia have since won two of their last three in the competition (L1). Serbia have won their opening game at a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1998, when they did so as Yugoslavia against Iran (1-0). Serbia have now won all four of their World Cup games against teams from the CONCACAF region, with the first three of those coming as Yugoslavia between 1950 and 1998. Costa Rica suffered their first defeat at the World Cup since 2006 (1-2 v Poland), ending a run of five games unbeaten in the competition (W2 D3). And my favourite of all: Aleksandar Kolarov’s goal for Serbia was the third direct free-kick scored at this year’s World Cup (after Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo), which is already as many as there were in the entire 2014 tournament in Brazil. 3:05PM Next up It's Germany vs Mexico! Join Alan Tyers in our World Cup liveblog as he brings you the team news, updates and analysis from the match. 3:05PM The referee separating the players Credit: GETTY IMAGES This is that little rammy towards the end when Matic went nuts. It looks like the Costa Rica nine, Colindres, puts a full on slap on a Serbia player. Could be a red card, might not. I'd argue that the players are just getting fired up late on - if it had been earlier in the game then it would have been in the ref's interests to sort things out further. 3:02PM Who stood out there then? Let's do some player ratings. Costa Rica (3-4-3 / 5-4-1) Navas 7, Gamboa 6, Acosta 6, González 6, Duarte 6, Calvo 7, Venegas 6, Guzmán 6, Borges 6, Ruiz 6, Ureña 5 Serbia (4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2) Stojkovic 6, Ivanovic 6, Tosic 6, Milenkovic 6, Kolarov 7, Milinkovic-Savic 8, Milivojevic 6, Matic 6, Ljajic 6, Tadic 7, Mitrovic 5 2:58PM Analysis Average touch positions (full time) A game of one half. Specifically the right for Serbia and left for Costa Rica. Passes kept going down the one side of the pitch. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:55PM FULL TIME Credit: AFP And that's it! Serbia get a deserved win against a spirited Costa Rica. Kolarov's free-kick was a thing of wonder and has won the points. 2:54PM 90 mins +7 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 More controversy here. Prijovic has caught someone off the ball with his forearm and Acosta throws himself to the floor. Is this a red card? The VAR is in use! Aaaaand it's a yellow card. Another good decision (IMO). 2:52PM 90 mins +5 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 VAR time! The referee is reviewing that decision! He wants to see if Matic should be in more trouble... but the VAR says no. Seems fair. Costa Rica keep coming... the ball is hooked in, headed down IT'S A CHANCE FOR BOLANOS! And he's missed from six yards! Thankfully, the linesman calls offside and he is miles ahead of the last man. What a miss though. Dreadful finish. 2:50PM 90 mins +4 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 That's poor from the substitute Rukavina. He loses possession then doesn't try to win it back but now Serbia are on the counter-attack, with men over! And the ball's been lost. And now Matic is involved with the bench! He's getting all fired up needlessly with the Costa Rica staff. 2:49PM 90 mins +3 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick 40 yards out, hit it in the area and it;s headed away. Gamboa goes for a distance wondergoal but his long range effort is saved by the goalkeeper easily. 2:47PM 90 mins +1 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 M-Savic has had a superb game. His timing of pass and movement off the ball is excellent. Serbia take Mitrovic off for Prijovic. Serbia come forward again - they have men over! Kostic spots the chance to shoot but blasts over the bar. So many players have been jumping their shots miles over. Practise required. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Filip Kostic, 90 min) 2:45PM 89 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 MITROVIC IS IN AGAIN! And he's wasted the chance again! Oh my word. He's so very nearly a great player - gets in the right positions, is strong but his finishing isn't all that. And here he gets into the box, slows down to wait for the ball to roll ahead of his body and the Costa Rica defender goes down. Mitrovic goes down too but I suspect that's more a problem of balance than an actual foul. No VAR for this incident. 2:43PM 87 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Stojkovic gets someone to help him tie his shoelaces. Cunning time-wasting tactic? Or cruel window into a life spent never learning to tie shoelaces? Only he really knows. 2:41PM 85 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica are now focusing most of their play down the right, targeting Kolarov. Nothing's coming off at the moment now, they're running out of ideas. 2:39PM 82 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell's been lively since coming on but you can kind of tell he's not played much recently. A half yard off the pace on the ball has given Serbia defenders opportunity to rob him of possession. Rukavina comes on for Tadic, which is almost certainly to give Ivanovic back-up at right-back. It might mean a 5-4-1 for Serbia. 2:36PM 80 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell tries to work space for a shot on the edge of the area but is blocked. M-Savic pulls off another beautiful bit of skill to take the ball round the outside of a midfielder and puts Serbia on the attack. They're starting to look a little tired now... 2:35PM 78 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: TASS Ooooh that should be 2-0. Tadic gets in behind on the right and squares the pass into the six yard box. Navas dives at it, gets a tiny flick on it and Kostic has a side foot to finish in an empty net. He gets it all wrong though and the net is unharmed. 2:32PM 76 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Colindres comes on for Guzman, which means Costa Rica have used all their substitutions up. Serbia fire some passes together and link well. M-Savic has the chance to shoot 25 yards out, takes the chance but balloons his effort way over the bar. 2:30PM 74 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell is in behind! There's a lucky deflection and Campbell gets ahead of Milenkovic but just isn't sharp enough to beat him to the ball and get a shot away. Corner. The goalie comes to get the cross but is nowhere near it. Like someone's thrown a scarecrow into the air at the ball. Serbia survive and Mitrovic shields the ball high up the pitch. 2:29PM 72 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica free-kick wide left... Campbell takes it and a Serbian head puts it clear. Kostic tries to break but the ball goes out of play, Serbia go back to their 4-4-1-1 shape and get behind the ball. 2:27PM 70 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell goes on a little dribble into the box but Ljajic puts in a great tackle and wins the ball. Costa Rica in a clear 3-4-3 now and making much snappier passes. Now Serbia are taking their turn to defend with blocks of four. Ljajic comes off for Kostic. 2:24PM 68 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Here comes Joel Campbell! Urena heads off. Look at the difference in possession now! Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:22PM 66 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES What a photo that is! The ball smashing into the back of the net from Kolarov's free-kick. Serbia have dropped really deep now they're 1-0 up... I wonder whether the best form of defence might actually be attacking Costa Rica more. They're inviting trouble like this. 2:20PM 64 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 1 - Kolarov has been the first Serbian player to score from direct free kick at the WC since Sinisa Mihajlovic v Iran on 14 June 1998 (including Yugoslavia). Southpaw. pic.twitter.com/yLePjJ0cmn— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 17, 2018 Costa Rica taking the game to Serbia now and Serbia are dropping further and further back. 2:18PM 62 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick in the final third but Serbia defend deep and head away. Costa Rica trying to get back into the game straight away. You're at your most vulnerable just after scoring goes the old saying. 2:16PM 60 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Serbia have the momentum now. Ljajic makes a run ahead of the defence and just can't get on the end of a chipped pass from Tadic. Will Costa Rica come out of their defensive shell now? 2:13PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! WHAT A HIT! KOLAVOC HAS SCORED! Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Aleksandar Kolarov, 56 min) Navas had absolutely no chance! It's a perfect free-kick, curled over the wall with power into the top corner. Goal: Serbia ( 56 min ) Unstoppable. 2:13PM 56 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win another free-kick in a dangerous area. Kolarov can shoot from here and seems to be lining one up. 2:12PM 55 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic gets a head on the ball as Duarte grabs hold of him in full view of the referee. Consistency in refereeing? There's not an awful lot of difference between that incident and the one yesterday that resulted in a penalty for Argentina. 2:11PM 54 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia enjoying more of the ball here. Kolarov curls a cross to the box and wins a corner as Calvo heads away at the back post. The referee has to sort out some pushing and pulling in the area. 2:09PM 52 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia are stretching the pitch and attacking through the middle more now. Although another cross from wide is collected from Navas. 2:08PM 50 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 HUGE MISS! Mitrovic breaks the offside trap, is one on one with Navas and his shot is terrible. Navas saves well but Mitrovic has to score there. What a massive moment that could prove to be. 2:07PM 49 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are on the right (light blue), Serbia the left (dark blue). 2:03PM 47 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic comes back to help out Ivanovic early on as Bryan Ruiz skins him on the left wing. No change of tactic here then. 2:02PM KICK-OFF 2 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica start the second half. We're back! 2:00PM Next up World Cup 2018 tactics: Why Germany's goalkeeper is key to how they attack Don't forget that after this game is Germany vs Mexico! You can join Alan Tyers in our liveblog coverage of that once this match is over. And not a moment sooner! Don't leave me. Please. 1:57PM Serbia's strikers Check the starting position of Milinkovic-Savic in possession. He's a central striker! Patrice Evra on him being linked with Man Utd: "You need to be a character, a personality. I'm afraid now you miss players playing for the passion. If you said 20 years ago Patrice you play for Manchester United and you don't even get paid, you do it." Doesn't really answer the question but I think I know what I mean. At least he hasn't literally applauded Aluko's football knowledge with this answer. 1:49PM Serbia's very attacking average positions That's a 2-4-4! Love it. Average touch positions (42 min) Look at the near-comical focus on one particular side of the pitch. Poor Ivanovic, he'll be knackered at the end of this. 1:47PM HALF TIME - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Thoroughly entertaining stuff there. Costa Rica targeting Ivanovic down the left and relying on quick counter-attacks, while Serbia have done well without really taking advantage of all their possession. Where there's Mitrovic there's a chance and Milinkovic-Savic has turned up in dangerous areas too. I can see a goal or two in the second half. 1:46PM 45 mins +1 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Borges should be booked for pulling Ljajic back just as he was about to get Serbia moving in the Costa Rica half... but Mitrovic is penalised for a tiny nudge on the back of Gonzalez. 1:44PM 44 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 MILINKOVIC-SAVIC BICYLE KICK! Saved by Navas! Wow. That would have been something else! Ivanovic chips into the box, the Lazio man goes for the spectacular, the linesman says he's offside. He isn't, so that goal would have counted if it had gone in. 1:42PM 42 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are enjoying the ball for a while. They've been on the back foot for quite a lot of the game so far, though this possession stat feels like it's way off. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia Calvo cuts inside from the left once more and tries a shot on his right foot... but drags it wide of the near post. Out: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Francisco Calvo, 42 min) 1:40PM 40 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ohhhh there's a slip in the Serbia defence by Tosic and it's given Costa Rica a chance to shoot. Urena takes it... but that's miles away. Calvo then wins a corner off Ivanovic, who isn't being given any peace. 1:37PM 38 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Both players appear OK to continue after a pause in play. What a collision that was though. Like a train battering into... another train. Or a Costa Rica defender. Anyway, they're alright. 1:35PM 36 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic wins a free-kick right in the corner. The big lads come up for the set piece, which Kolarov will whip in as in in-swinger. Navas Superman throws himself at it and punches away and then Tosic batters into Acosta while going for a header and both are in a lot of pain. 1:34PM 34 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ivanovic over-hits an early cross from wide right and puts it out for a goal kick. Costa Rica have been impressive with how they stop Serbia's build-up play. By blocking the passing option, Serbia don't really have anywhere to go other than long but are trying to keep the ball in defence until an opportunity to get forward opens up. 1:30PM 31 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are blocking the Serbian passing lanes with three forwards and two midfielders behind them, and it's forcing the defenders to really think about where they move the ball so as not to concede possession in a dangerous counter-attacking area. Once the ball is past the halfway line Costa Rica are a 5-4-1... Serbia need another option. And there it is - the chipped pass to Mitrovic. 1:28PM 29 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Bit chance! Super run off the ball by Milinkovic-Savic but he doesn't get the ball out of his feet as a pass over the top puts him through on goal. A low shot is saved easily by Navas but the offside flag had one anyway. He gets away with that miss. 1:26PM 27 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great take by Tadic. The pass is fired straight at him at pace and he controls and flicks the ball on to keep a move going. It just won't drop for Mitrovic in the area and his shot is blocked. 1:24PM 25 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: AFP Serbia are focusing their attacks through the middle then moving play out to the right wing once in the final third. Costa Rica survive another decent move but Serbia are back in possession. You can see they're favouring that right wing here: Serbia crosses Calvo is the left wing-back and is on a yellow card now too. 1:22PM 23 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica get in down the left again though and... that's a shocking tackle. He doesn't mean to go in as heavy as he does but Calvo is rightly booked for a late slide tackle near the corner on Tadic. That's the sort of challenge you put in for a laugh on Pro Evo. 1:21PM 21 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia switch the play a couple of times but Costa Rica look organised and shift over to deny the space and win possession back. Serbia are getting Tadic deeper with Matic helping out on the right now to make sure Ivanovic isn't exposed. 1:19PM 19 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win a free-kick about 35 yards from goal and this will be aimed towards Mitrovic. The referee has to tell Guzman to stand further back from the kick but doesn't book him. The ball goes in, is headed at the back post... and Costa Rica manage to get it away then drop into their low block. 1:16PM 17 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great save by Navas! Serbia have men over, Ivanovic overlaps down the right and dribbles past his man but Navas blocks the low cross into the area. Serbia might be in again! Tadic chips to the back post for Mitrovic but nobody is following up. Milinkovic-Savic has had a couple of lovely touches in the approach play to both those moves. 1:14PM 15 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic receives the ball on the edge of the box, moves it onto his right foot and shoots but the effort is blocked and Navas catches. Costa Rica attack down the left wing again - they're targeting Ivanovic at right-back. Serbia look ropey at the back here. A dreadful pass forward has nearly gifted Costa Rica the chance to break with an overload but the centre-backs just about to manage to see out the danger. 1:12PM 13 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 FREE HEADER! What a miss! Oh my word. A short corner, the second cross gives Gonzalez a completely free header. Dreadful defending from Serbia - what were they doing there? Total chaos in the second phase of that set piece and Costa Rica should be 1-0 up. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Giancarlo González, 12 min) Gonzalez can't believe he's put that miles over the bar. 1:11PM 11 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Costa Rica are looking to use their pace to take on the full-backs. Ivanovic and Kolarov aren't the young men they once were but still have a bit speed left in the legs - Costa Rica look like they might have the running of them though. Costa Rica win a corner. 1:09PM 9 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are quick and break with three forwards. It's not quite coming together for them in the final third for now but they've been able to run with the ball in Serbia's half a couple of times now. 1:07PM 7 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mitrovic is causing problems with his strength upfront and Serbia are looking for him with long throws and chipped passes. Serbia attack through the middle, the ball drops to Kolarov and he tries a shot from 30 yards but pings it wide of goal. 1:05PM 5 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia get up the pitch and win another corner. Both teams are attacking quickly and it's already entertaining. Serbia can't get space in the area thanks to the close attentions of the Costa Rica defence and Kolarov fouls Gamboa while trying to win the second ball from the corner. Costa Rica go long. 1:03PM 3 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 But now Costa Rica are in! Urena gets in behind the defence after a Ruiz pass puts him there and he wins a corner! Mitrovic is back defending now and powers a header away from goal. Calvo joins in down the left and hooks a swinging cross into the area and GONZALEZ IS THERE! But his header is straight at the goalkeeper! What a start this is! 1:01PM 2 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia start with the ball and Mitrovic gets a touch inside the area within 30 seconds. Corner. If he'd controlled that properly he was in for a shot from about 10 yards! The corner comes in and it's headed at goal! Navas looks frantic as he hops onto his other foot... but the referee has spotted a foul. The sign of things to come? 1:00PM KICK OFF Here we go! 12:55PM National anthems 12:54PM Here come the players! Costa Rica will be a 5-4-1 and try to keep things tight and take advantage of counter-attack situations while Serbia will be a 4-2-3-1. The wing-backs will get forward, the defence will be protected by Matic and Milivojevic and Milinkovic-Savic will support Mitrovic throughout. 12:47PM Evra's wearing a tin foil hat Paul Pogba's goal against Australia has been taken away from him. It's an own goal now (because it is...) and Evra has just said he wishes people would leave Paul alone. "If it was Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo I wonder if they would take that goal away," he says. Perhaps he's preparing some sort of speech about jet fuel and steel beams for half time. Patrice Evra showing surprise and actually *clapping* Eni Aluko’s analysis... awful, patronising— Omar Chaudhuri (@OmarChaudhuri) June 17, 2018 12:45PM The warm-ups Credit: GETTY IMAGES The players are just finishing their warm-ups and soon they'll be out on the pitch ready to put on a spectacle. Kolarov was holding his knee for a bit of it but I'm not sure if he's picked up a knock or something during his little pre-match routine. Now, if you'd like to get updates sent to your phone on Whatsapp, sign up for this thing we have here: World Cup whatsapp promo It keeps you up to date with all the news and scores from the games. 12:39PM Take care of the ball and the ball will take care of you Vladimir Stojkovic �� Serbia’s goalkeeper kisses the ball after every save he makes! #SRB#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/JEjD9gYCu8— Kay Murray (@KayLMurray) June 17, 2018 12:38PM Evra is impressed by a woman knowing football "Wow I'm really impressed, she knows more about the game than us," says Evra, in a somewhat* patronising way to Eni Aluko. Do your research pal. ITV have been pretty good at getting their pundits well read before going on air to be fair. Aluko has been explaining what makes Milinkovic-Savic such a threat, detailing his ability to play with the ball at feet but that he's also great at attacking and will support Mitrovic throughout today's game. *incredibly. 12:33PM The current and ex-pros' opinions "They're a strong defensive team but they don't score a lot of goals," says Eni Aluko of Costa Rica. Henrik Larsson and Patrice Evra make up the rest of ITV's pundits bench today. That's a strong lineup. 12:27PM Ivanovic becomes Serbia's all-time most capped player Credit: FIFA Today is his 104th cap, so assuming nothing changes before kick-off he will become the most capped player in the history of Serbia, surpassing Dejan Stankovic. But the real question is how tall is he compared to Mel from Mel and Sue? At 6 feet tall that makes him 1.something Mels from Mel and Sue. 12:24PM Inside the dressing rooms Credit: FIFA Credit: FIFA 12:22PM Our lovely new columnist Cesc Fabregas has joined our writing team for the World Cup and his first couple of columns are already up on the website. You can read his thoughts on Raheem Sterling here. Cesc Fabregas column: England's Raheem Sterling can deliver on the biggest stage 12:17PM Star players to look out for Keylor Navas is by far and away the best player on this Costa Rica team and according to my handy Football Manager database app (their database is used as a scouting tool by top level clubs around the world...), with an average rating of 81 he's way ahead of Borges and Campbell, both rated at 69. Bryan Ruiz shares the same rating... and then everything goes a bit south from there. Serbia meanwhile have some of the most highly rated young players in the world. Predrag Rajkovic is on the bench but at a base level 67 is expected to be about an 85 at some point in his career. I realise some of you might think I'm talking nonsense using a video game's database but their hit rate and accuracy is awesome. Matic - 78, Milinkovic-Savic -78, Adem Ljajic - 72, Aleksandar Kolarov -73... I think you get the idea. If Serbia can work their way around the Costa Rica low block and avoid making any particularly silly mistakes, they should really win this. 12:06PM Those teams in written form Costa Rica (3-5-2 / 5-4-1) Navas, Gamboa, Acosta, González, Duarte, Calvo, Venegas, Guzmán, Borges, Ruiz, Ureña Serbia (4-2-3-1) Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Tosic, Milenkovic, Kolarov, Milinkovic-Savic, Milivojevic, Matic, Ljajic, Tadic, Mitrovic Got to think Serbia are missing a trick leaving all the Football Manager wonderkids out. Zivkovic and Rajkovic on the bench? What is this - amateur hour? pic.twitter.com/LiPrSQumMX— JJ Bull (@jj_bull) June 17, 2018 12:00PM Starting lineups 10 'ic' and one Kolarov: Who's ready for the first match of the day? Here are the teams for #CRCSRB ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/np2DCvEQ78— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 17, 2018 11:59AM The best kits World Cup kits ranked 11:47AM Where is today's game? Well that would be the Samara Arena of course: World Cup 2018 stadium: Samara Arena And as we all know [looks down at phone] it is is the sixth largest city in Russia. This is what the stadium looks like.: Credit: FIFA And the inside is even cooler: Credit: REUTERS 11:40AM Welcome! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for Costa Rica vs Serbia, a match which should be really entertaining and one I'm looking forward to. Yesterday was another brilliant day of World Cup football notable for featuring several high profile VAR moments - it seems like having that extra help has really allowed referees to make some attack-minded decisions and goals make games great. So what to expect today? Serbia have the better (arguably - and I will argue it) group of players with several wonderkids supplemented by hardworking others. Nemanja Matic can run the midfield, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is one of the hottest prospects in football and Dusan Tadic is guaranteed to create chances to score. “As far as this story about me lacking experience, I don’t have any problem because I am working with professional players who prove themselves in clubs across Europe,” their manager Mladen Krstajic said. “My conscience is clear because we are working really well and have been together for three weeks. These are things that make me happy. “We have to be focused, responsible. When I met my squad for the first time I said let's relax, be friends off the pitch, but when comes to matches, everyone has to be responsible.” Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players In the red corner, Costa Rica aren't quite so strong but do have Keylor Navas in goal. You know, the Real Madrid guy. Yeh, him. Other than that, Arsenal's eternally nomadic loanee Joel Campbell is perhaps their best bet of getting a result with Celso Borges the most likely to set someone up for a goal. They didn't impress at all in defeat to England recently and were hammered by Belgium too - today is a massive test. Team news should be with us soon and I'll endeavour to bring you that as well as all the build-up and then analysis of the live action. Stick around to join in the fun.
Aleksandar Kolarov produced a ­moment of captain’s inspiration, curling home a superb free-kick as Serbia got their Group E campaign up and running on Sunday. The former Manchester City full-back had appeared to be injured in the warm-up but recovered to curl in the winner against Costa Rica. Serbia had dominated the match but chances were at a premium 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 lifted a weight from coach Mladen Krstajic, in what was his first competitive game. “There was a great deal of pressure on the team, and on me, over the past seven months,” said Krstajic, who took the job in October. Krstajic’s relief was matched in equal measure by the disappointment of Oscar Ramirez, the Costa Rica manager, whose side are now in a precarious position. “Maybe we have lost a certain margin for qualifying,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult, but our intention remains the same. I told the lads ‘This isn’t over’.” Aleksandar Kolarov struck a wonderful free-kick to win all three points for Serbia Credit: REUTERS If Costa Rica are going to recover, they will need to rediscover the defensive organisation and clinical counter-attacks that propelled them to the quarter-finals four years ago. Serbia found it hard to break them down, but they rarely looked troubled at the back and, barring a late half-chance for substitute Joel Campbell, they coasted through the game. The match began in furious ­fashion, with Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic having a header scooped off the line and Costa Rica’s Giancarlo Gonzalez failing to convert two headed chances. But it soon 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. Mitrovic failed to find the net with a good chance early in the second half, but it mattered little when Kolarov, the AS Roma left-back, produced his moment of magic, curling a free kick, left-footed, over the wall and past the despairing dive of Navas. “It is great to have three points, but we are not finished. I don’t want to do the maths yet,” Kolarov said. Match details Costa Rica (3-4-3): Navas (Real Madrid) 7; Gamboa (Celtic) 6, Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas) 6, Gonzalez (Bologna) 6; Duarte (Espanyol) 6, Calvo (Minnesota) 7, Venegas (Saprissa) 6, Guzman (Portland) 6; Borges (Coruna) 6, Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon) 6, Urena (Los Angeles) 5. Subs: Campbell (Arsenal) for Urena 73, Bolanos (Saprissa) for Venegas 60, Colindres (Saprissa) for Guzman 73. Booked: Guzman, Calvo. Serbia (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic (Partizan) 6; Ivanovic (Zenit) 6, Tosic (Besiktas) 6, Milenkovic (Fiorentina) 6, Kolarov (Roma) 7; Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) 8, Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) 6; Matic (Man Utd) 6, Ljajic (Torino) 7, Tadic (Southampton) 6; Mitrovic (Newcastle) 6. Subs: Kostic (Hamburg) for Ljajic 70, Rukavina (Villarreal) for Tadic 83, Prijovic (PAOK) for Mitrovic 90. Booked: Prijovic. Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal). 3:08PM Some full-time stats for you After losing five consecutive World Cup games between 1998 and 2010, Serbia have since won two of their last three in the competition (L1). Serbia have won their opening game at a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1998, when they did so as Yugoslavia against Iran (1-0). Serbia have now won all four of their World Cup games against teams from the CONCACAF region, with the first three of those coming as Yugoslavia between 1950 and 1998. Costa Rica suffered their first defeat at the World Cup since 2006 (1-2 v Poland), ending a run of five games unbeaten in the competition (W2 D3). And my favourite of all: Aleksandar Kolarov’s goal for Serbia was the third direct free-kick scored at this year’s World Cup (after Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo), which is already as many as there were in the entire 2014 tournament in Brazil. 3:05PM Next up It's Germany vs Mexico! Join Alan Tyers in our World Cup liveblog as he brings you the team news, updates and analysis from the match. 3:05PM The referee separating the players Credit: GETTY IMAGES This is that little rammy towards the end when Matic went nuts. It looks like the Costa Rica nine, Colindres, puts a full on slap on a Serbia player. Could be a red card, might not. I'd argue that the players are just getting fired up late on - if it had been earlier in the game then it would have been in the ref's interests to sort things out further. 3:02PM Who stood out there then? Let's do some player ratings. Costa Rica (3-4-3 / 5-4-1) Navas 7, Gamboa 6, Acosta 6, González 6, Duarte 6, Calvo 7, Venegas 6, Guzmán 6, Borges 6, Ruiz 6, Ureña 5 Serbia (4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2) Stojkovic 6, Ivanovic 6, Tosic 6, Milenkovic 6, Kolarov 7, Milinkovic-Savic 8, Milivojevic 6, Matic 6, Ljajic 6, Tadic 7, Mitrovic 5 2:58PM Analysis Average touch positions (full time) A game of one half. Specifically the right for Serbia and left for Costa Rica. Passes kept going down the one side of the pitch. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:55PM FULL TIME Credit: AFP And that's it! Serbia get a deserved win against a spirited Costa Rica. Kolarov's free-kick was a thing of wonder and has won the points. 2:54PM 90 mins +7 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 More controversy here. Prijovic has caught someone off the ball with his forearm and Acosta throws himself to the floor. Is this a red card? The VAR is in use! Aaaaand it's a yellow card. Another good decision (IMO). 2:52PM 90 mins +5 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 VAR time! The referee is reviewing that decision! He wants to see if Matic should be in more trouble... but the VAR says no. Seems fair. Costa Rica keep coming... the ball is hooked in, headed down IT'S A CHANCE FOR BOLANOS! And he's missed from six yards! Thankfully, the linesman calls offside and he is miles ahead of the last man. What a miss though. Dreadful finish. 2:50PM 90 mins +4 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 That's poor from the substitute Rukavina. He loses possession then doesn't try to win it back but now Serbia are on the counter-attack, with men over! And the ball's been lost. And now Matic is involved with the bench! He's getting all fired up needlessly with the Costa Rica staff. 2:49PM 90 mins +3 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick 40 yards out, hit it in the area and it;s headed away. Gamboa goes for a distance wondergoal but his long range effort is saved by the goalkeeper easily. 2:47PM 90 mins +1 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 M-Savic has had a superb game. His timing of pass and movement off the ball is excellent. Serbia take Mitrovic off for Prijovic. Serbia come forward again - they have men over! Kostic spots the chance to shoot but blasts over the bar. So many players have been jumping their shots miles over. Practise required. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Filip Kostic, 90 min) 2:45PM 89 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 MITROVIC IS IN AGAIN! And he's wasted the chance again! Oh my word. He's so very nearly a great player - gets in the right positions, is strong but his finishing isn't all that. And here he gets into the box, slows down to wait for the ball to roll ahead of his body and the Costa Rica defender goes down. Mitrovic goes down too but I suspect that's more a problem of balance than an actual foul. No VAR for this incident. 2:43PM 87 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Stojkovic gets someone to help him tie his shoelaces. Cunning time-wasting tactic? Or cruel window into a life spent never learning to tie shoelaces? Only he really knows. 2:41PM 85 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica are now focusing most of their play down the right, targeting Kolarov. Nothing's coming off at the moment now, they're running out of ideas. 2:39PM 82 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell's been lively since coming on but you can kind of tell he's not played much recently. A half yard off the pace on the ball has given Serbia defenders opportunity to rob him of possession. Rukavina comes on for Tadic, which is almost certainly to give Ivanovic back-up at right-back. It might mean a 5-4-1 for Serbia. 2:36PM 80 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell tries to work space for a shot on the edge of the area but is blocked. M-Savic pulls off another beautiful bit of skill to take the ball round the outside of a midfielder and puts Serbia on the attack. They're starting to look a little tired now... 2:35PM 78 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: TASS Ooooh that should be 2-0. Tadic gets in behind on the right and squares the pass into the six yard box. Navas dives at it, gets a tiny flick on it and Kostic has a side foot to finish in an empty net. He gets it all wrong though and the net is unharmed. 2:32PM 76 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Colindres comes on for Guzman, which means Costa Rica have used all their substitutions up. Serbia fire some passes together and link well. M-Savic has the chance to shoot 25 yards out, takes the chance but balloons his effort way over the bar. 2:30PM 74 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell is in behind! There's a lucky deflection and Campbell gets ahead of Milenkovic but just isn't sharp enough to beat him to the ball and get a shot away. Corner. The goalie comes to get the cross but is nowhere near it. Like someone's thrown a scarecrow into the air at the ball. Serbia survive and Mitrovic shields the ball high up the pitch. 2:29PM 72 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica free-kick wide left... Campbell takes it and a Serbian head puts it clear. Kostic tries to break but the ball goes out of play, Serbia go back to their 4-4-1-1 shape and get behind the ball. 2:27PM 70 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell goes on a little dribble into the box but Ljajic puts in a great tackle and wins the ball. Costa Rica in a clear 3-4-3 now and making much snappier passes. Now Serbia are taking their turn to defend with blocks of four. Ljajic comes off for Kostic. 2:24PM 68 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Here comes Joel Campbell! Urena heads off. Look at the difference in possession now! Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:22PM 66 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES What a photo that is! The ball smashing into the back of the net from Kolarov's free-kick. Serbia have dropped really deep now they're 1-0 up... I wonder whether the best form of defence might actually be attacking Costa Rica more. They're inviting trouble like this. 2:20PM 64 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 1 - Kolarov has been the first Serbian player to score from direct free kick at the WC since Sinisa Mihajlovic v Iran on 14 June 1998 (including Yugoslavia). Southpaw. pic.twitter.com/yLePjJ0cmn— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 17, 2018 Costa Rica taking the game to Serbia now and Serbia are dropping further and further back. 2:18PM 62 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick in the final third but Serbia defend deep and head away. Costa Rica trying to get back into the game straight away. You're at your most vulnerable just after scoring goes the old saying. 2:16PM 60 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Serbia have the momentum now. Ljajic makes a run ahead of the defence and just can't get on the end of a chipped pass from Tadic. Will Costa Rica come out of their defensive shell now? 2:13PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! WHAT A HIT! KOLAVOC HAS SCORED! Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Aleksandar Kolarov, 56 min) Navas had absolutely no chance! It's a perfect free-kick, curled over the wall with power into the top corner. Goal: Serbia ( 56 min ) Unstoppable. 2:13PM 56 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win another free-kick in a dangerous area. Kolarov can shoot from here and seems to be lining one up. 2:12PM 55 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic gets a head on the ball as Duarte grabs hold of him in full view of the referee. Consistency in refereeing? There's not an awful lot of difference between that incident and the one yesterday that resulted in a penalty for Argentina. 2:11PM 54 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia enjoying more of the ball here. Kolarov curls a cross to the box and wins a corner as Calvo heads away at the back post. The referee has to sort out some pushing and pulling in the area. 2:09PM 52 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia are stretching the pitch and attacking through the middle more now. Although another cross from wide is collected from Navas. 2:08PM 50 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 HUGE MISS! Mitrovic breaks the offside trap, is one on one with Navas and his shot is terrible. Navas saves well but Mitrovic has to score there. What a massive moment that could prove to be. 2:07PM 49 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are on the right (light blue), Serbia the left (dark blue). 2:03PM 47 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic comes back to help out Ivanovic early on as Bryan Ruiz skins him on the left wing. No change of tactic here then. 2:02PM KICK-OFF 2 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica start the second half. We're back! 2:00PM Next up World Cup 2018 tactics: Why Germany's goalkeeper is key to how they attack Don't forget that after this game is Germany vs Mexico! You can join Alan Tyers in our liveblog coverage of that once this match is over. And not a moment sooner! Don't leave me. Please. 1:57PM Serbia's strikers Check the starting position of Milinkovic-Savic in possession. He's a central striker! Patrice Evra on him being linked with Man Utd: "You need to be a character, a personality. I'm afraid now you miss players playing for the passion. If you said 20 years ago Patrice you play for Manchester United and you don't even get paid, you do it." Doesn't really answer the question but I think I know what I mean. At least he hasn't literally applauded Aluko's football knowledge with this answer. 1:49PM Serbia's very attacking average positions That's a 2-4-4! Love it. Average touch positions (42 min) Look at the near-comical focus on one particular side of the pitch. Poor Ivanovic, he'll be knackered at the end of this. 1:47PM HALF TIME - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Thoroughly entertaining stuff there. Costa Rica targeting Ivanovic down the left and relying on quick counter-attacks, while Serbia have done well without really taking advantage of all their possession. Where there's Mitrovic there's a chance and Milinkovic-Savic has turned up in dangerous areas too. I can see a goal or two in the second half. 1:46PM 45 mins +1 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Borges should be booked for pulling Ljajic back just as he was about to get Serbia moving in the Costa Rica half... but Mitrovic is penalised for a tiny nudge on the back of Gonzalez. 1:44PM 44 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 MILINKOVIC-SAVIC BICYLE KICK! Saved by Navas! Wow. That would have been something else! Ivanovic chips into the box, the Lazio man goes for the spectacular, the linesman says he's offside. He isn't, so that goal would have counted if it had gone in. 1:42PM 42 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are enjoying the ball for a while. They've been on the back foot for quite a lot of the game so far, though this possession stat feels like it's way off. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia Calvo cuts inside from the left once more and tries a shot on his right foot... but drags it wide of the near post. Out: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Francisco Calvo, 42 min) 1:40PM 40 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ohhhh there's a slip in the Serbia defence by Tosic and it's given Costa Rica a chance to shoot. Urena takes it... but that's miles away. Calvo then wins a corner off Ivanovic, who isn't being given any peace. 1:37PM 38 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Both players appear OK to continue after a pause in play. What a collision that was though. Like a train battering into... another train. Or a Costa Rica defender. Anyway, they're alright. 1:35PM 36 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic wins a free-kick right in the corner. The big lads come up for the set piece, which Kolarov will whip in as in in-swinger. Navas Superman throws himself at it and punches away and then Tosic batters into Acosta while going for a header and both are in a lot of pain. 1:34PM 34 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ivanovic over-hits an early cross from wide right and puts it out for a goal kick. Costa Rica have been impressive with how they stop Serbia's build-up play. By blocking the passing option, Serbia don't really have anywhere to go other than long but are trying to keep the ball in defence until an opportunity to get forward opens up. 1:30PM 31 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are blocking the Serbian passing lanes with three forwards and two midfielders behind them, and it's forcing the defenders to really think about where they move the ball so as not to concede possession in a dangerous counter-attacking area. Once the ball is past the halfway line Costa Rica are a 5-4-1... Serbia need another option. And there it is - the chipped pass to Mitrovic. 1:28PM 29 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Bit chance! Super run off the ball by Milinkovic-Savic but he doesn't get the ball out of his feet as a pass over the top puts him through on goal. A low shot is saved easily by Navas but the offside flag had one anyway. He gets away with that miss. 1:26PM 27 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great take by Tadic. The pass is fired straight at him at pace and he controls and flicks the ball on to keep a move going. It just won't drop for Mitrovic in the area and his shot is blocked. 1:24PM 25 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: AFP Serbia are focusing their attacks through the middle then moving play out to the right wing once in the final third. Costa Rica survive another decent move but Serbia are back in possession. You can see they're favouring that right wing here: Serbia crosses Calvo is the left wing-back and is on a yellow card now too. 1:22PM 23 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica get in down the left again though and... that's a shocking tackle. He doesn't mean to go in as heavy as he does but Calvo is rightly booked for a late slide tackle near the corner on Tadic. That's the sort of challenge you put in for a laugh on Pro Evo. 1:21PM 21 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia switch the play a couple of times but Costa Rica look organised and shift over to deny the space and win possession back. Serbia are getting Tadic deeper with Matic helping out on the right now to make sure Ivanovic isn't exposed. 1:19PM 19 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win a free-kick about 35 yards from goal and this will be aimed towards Mitrovic. The referee has to tell Guzman to stand further back from the kick but doesn't book him. The ball goes in, is headed at the back post... and Costa Rica manage to get it away then drop into their low block. 1:16PM 17 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great save by Navas! Serbia have men over, Ivanovic overlaps down the right and dribbles past his man but Navas blocks the low cross into the area. Serbia might be in again! Tadic chips to the back post for Mitrovic but nobody is following up. Milinkovic-Savic has had a couple of lovely touches in the approach play to both those moves. 1:14PM 15 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic receives the ball on the edge of the box, moves it onto his right foot and shoots but the effort is blocked and Navas catches. Costa Rica attack down the left wing again - they're targeting Ivanovic at right-back. Serbia look ropey at the back here. A dreadful pass forward has nearly gifted Costa Rica the chance to break with an overload but the centre-backs just about to manage to see out the danger. 1:12PM 13 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 FREE HEADER! What a miss! Oh my word. A short corner, the second cross gives Gonzalez a completely free header. Dreadful defending from Serbia - what were they doing there? Total chaos in the second phase of that set piece and Costa Rica should be 1-0 up. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Giancarlo González, 12 min) Gonzalez can't believe he's put that miles over the bar. 1:11PM 11 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Costa Rica are looking to use their pace to take on the full-backs. Ivanovic and Kolarov aren't the young men they once were but still have a bit speed left in the legs - Costa Rica look like they might have the running of them though. Costa Rica win a corner. 1:09PM 9 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are quick and break with three forwards. It's not quite coming together for them in the final third for now but they've been able to run with the ball in Serbia's half a couple of times now. 1:07PM 7 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mitrovic is causing problems with his strength upfront and Serbia are looking for him with long throws and chipped passes. Serbia attack through the middle, the ball drops to Kolarov and he tries a shot from 30 yards but pings it wide of goal. 1:05PM 5 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia get up the pitch and win another corner. Both teams are attacking quickly and it's already entertaining. Serbia can't get space in the area thanks to the close attentions of the Costa Rica defence and Kolarov fouls Gamboa while trying to win the second ball from the corner. Costa Rica go long. 1:03PM 3 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 But now Costa Rica are in! Urena gets in behind the defence after a Ruiz pass puts him there and he wins a corner! Mitrovic is back defending now and powers a header away from goal. Calvo joins in down the left and hooks a swinging cross into the area and GONZALEZ IS THERE! But his header is straight at the goalkeeper! What a start this is! 1:01PM 2 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia start with the ball and Mitrovic gets a touch inside the area within 30 seconds. Corner. If he'd controlled that properly he was in for a shot from about 10 yards! The corner comes in and it's headed at goal! Navas looks frantic as he hops onto his other foot... but the referee has spotted a foul. The sign of things to come? 1:00PM KICK OFF Here we go! 12:55PM National anthems 12:54PM Here come the players! Costa Rica will be a 5-4-1 and try to keep things tight and take advantage of counter-attack situations while Serbia will be a 4-2-3-1. The wing-backs will get forward, the defence will be protected by Matic and Milivojevic and Milinkovic-Savic will support Mitrovic throughout. 12:47PM Evra's wearing a tin foil hat Paul Pogba's goal against Australia has been taken away from him. It's an own goal now (because it is...) and Evra has just said he wishes people would leave Paul alone. "If it was Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo I wonder if they would take that goal away," he says. Perhaps he's preparing some sort of speech about jet fuel and steel beams for half time. Patrice Evra showing surprise and actually *clapping* Eni Aluko’s analysis... awful, patronising— Omar Chaudhuri (@OmarChaudhuri) June 17, 2018 12:45PM The warm-ups Credit: GETTY IMAGES The players are just finishing their warm-ups and soon they'll be out on the pitch ready to put on a spectacle. Kolarov was holding his knee for a bit of it but I'm not sure if he's picked up a knock or something during his little pre-match routine. Now, if you'd like to get updates sent to your phone on Whatsapp, sign up for this thing we have here: World Cup whatsapp promo It keeps you up to date with all the news and scores from the games. 12:39PM Take care of the ball and the ball will take care of you Vladimir Stojkovic �� Serbia’s goalkeeper kisses the ball after every save he makes! #SRB#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/JEjD9gYCu8— Kay Murray (@KayLMurray) June 17, 2018 12:38PM Evra is impressed by a woman knowing football "Wow I'm really impressed, she knows more about the game than us," says Evra, in a somewhat* patronising way to Eni Aluko. Do your research pal. ITV have been pretty good at getting their pundits well read before going on air to be fair. Aluko has been explaining what makes Milinkovic-Savic such a threat, detailing his ability to play with the ball at feet but that he's also great at attacking and will support Mitrovic throughout today's game. *incredibly. 12:33PM The current and ex-pros' opinions "They're a strong defensive team but they don't score a lot of goals," says Eni Aluko of Costa Rica. Henrik Larsson and Patrice Evra make up the rest of ITV's pundits bench today. That's a strong lineup. 12:27PM Ivanovic becomes Serbia's all-time most capped player Credit: FIFA Today is his 104th cap, so assuming nothing changes before kick-off he will become the most capped player in the history of Serbia, surpassing Dejan Stankovic. But the real question is how tall is he compared to Mel from Mel and Sue? At 6 feet tall that makes him 1.something Mels from Mel and Sue. 12:24PM Inside the dressing rooms Credit: FIFA Credit: FIFA 12:22PM Our lovely new columnist Cesc Fabregas has joined our writing team for the World Cup and his first couple of columns are already up on the website. You can read his thoughts on Raheem Sterling here. Cesc Fabregas column: England's Raheem Sterling can deliver on the biggest stage 12:17PM Star players to look out for Keylor Navas is by far and away the best player on this Costa Rica team and according to my handy Football Manager database app (their database is used as a scouting tool by top level clubs around the world...), with an average rating of 81 he's way ahead of Borges and Campbell, both rated at 69. Bryan Ruiz shares the same rating... and then everything goes a bit south from there. Serbia meanwhile have some of the most highly rated young players in the world. Predrag Rajkovic is on the bench but at a base level 67 is expected to be about an 85 at some point in his career. I realise some of you might think I'm talking nonsense using a video game's database but their hit rate and accuracy is awesome. Matic - 78, Milinkovic-Savic -78, Adem Ljajic - 72, Aleksandar Kolarov -73... I think you get the idea. If Serbia can work their way around the Costa Rica low block and avoid making any particularly silly mistakes, they should really win this. 12:06PM Those teams in written form Costa Rica (3-5-2 / 5-4-1) Navas, Gamboa, Acosta, González, Duarte, Calvo, Venegas, Guzmán, Borges, Ruiz, Ureña Serbia (4-2-3-1) Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Tosic, Milenkovic, Kolarov, Milinkovic-Savic, Milivojevic, Matic, Ljajic, Tadic, Mitrovic Got to think Serbia are missing a trick leaving all the Football Manager wonderkids out. Zivkovic and Rajkovic on the bench? What is this - amateur hour? pic.twitter.com/LiPrSQumMX— JJ Bull (@jj_bull) June 17, 2018 12:00PM Starting lineups 10 'ic' and one Kolarov: Who's ready for the first match of the day? Here are the teams for #CRCSRB ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/np2DCvEQ78— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 17, 2018 11:59AM The best kits World Cup kits ranked 11:47AM Where is today's game? Well that would be the Samara Arena of course: World Cup 2018 stadium: Samara Arena And as we all know [looks down at phone] it is is the sixth largest city in Russia. This is what the stadium looks like.: Credit: FIFA And the inside is even cooler: Credit: REUTERS 11:40AM Welcome! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for Costa Rica vs Serbia, a match which should be really entertaining and one I'm looking forward to. Yesterday was another brilliant day of World Cup football notable for featuring several high profile VAR moments - it seems like having that extra help has really allowed referees to make some attack-minded decisions and goals make games great. So what to expect today? Serbia have the better (arguably - and I will argue it) group of players with several wonderkids supplemented by hardworking others. Nemanja Matic can run the midfield, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is one of the hottest prospects in football and Dusan Tadic is guaranteed to create chances to score. “As far as this story about me lacking experience, I don’t have any problem because I am working with professional players who prove themselves in clubs across Europe,” their manager Mladen Krstajic said. “My conscience is clear because we are working really well and have been together for three weeks. These are things that make me happy. “We have to be focused, responsible. When I met my squad for the first time I said let's relax, be friends off the pitch, but when comes to matches, everyone has to be responsible.” Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players In the red corner, Costa Rica aren't quite so strong but do have Keylor Navas in goal. You know, the Real Madrid guy. Yeh, him. Other than that, Arsenal's eternally nomadic loanee Joel Campbell is perhaps their best bet of getting a result with Celso Borges the most likely to set someone up for a goal. They didn't impress at all in defeat to England recently and were hammered by Belgium too - today is a massive test. Team news should be with us soon and I'll endeavour to bring you that as well as all the build-up and then analysis of the live action. Stick around to join in the fun.
Aleksandar Kolarov scores sensational free-kick as Serbia claim hard-fought World Cup 2018 win against Costa Rica
Aleksandar Kolarov produced a ­moment of captain’s inspiration, curling home a superb free-kick as Serbia got their Group E campaign up and running on Sunday. The former Manchester City full-back had appeared to be injured in the warm-up but recovered to curl in the winner against Costa Rica. Serbia had dominated the match but chances were at a premium 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 lifted a weight from coach Mladen Krstajic, in what was his first competitive game. “There was a great deal of pressure on the team, and on me, over the past seven months,” said Krstajic, who took the job in October. Krstajic’s relief was matched in equal measure by the disappointment of Oscar Ramirez, the Costa Rica manager, whose side are now in a precarious position. “Maybe we have lost a certain margin for qualifying,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult, but our intention remains the same. I told the lads ‘This isn’t over’.” Aleksandar Kolarov struck a wonderful free-kick to win all three points for Serbia Credit: REUTERS If Costa Rica are going to recover, they will need to rediscover the defensive organisation and clinical counter-attacks that propelled them to the quarter-finals four years ago. Serbia found it hard to break them down, but they rarely looked troubled at the back and, barring a late half-chance for substitute Joel Campbell, they coasted through the game. The match began in furious ­fashion, with Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic having a header scooped off the line and Costa Rica’s Giancarlo Gonzalez failing to convert two headed chances. But it soon 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. Mitrovic failed to find the net with a good chance early in the second half, but it mattered little when Kolarov, the AS Roma left-back, produced his moment of magic, curling a free kick, left-footed, over the wall and past the despairing dive of Navas. “It is great to have three points, but we are not finished. I don’t want to do the maths yet,” Kolarov said. Match details Costa Rica (3-4-3): Navas (Real Madrid) 7; Gamboa (Celtic) 6, Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas) 6, Gonzalez (Bologna) 6; Duarte (Espanyol) 6, Calvo (Minnesota) 7, Venegas (Saprissa) 6, Guzman (Portland) 6; Borges (Coruna) 6, Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon) 6, Urena (Los Angeles) 5. Subs: Campbell (Arsenal) for Urena 73, Bolanos (Saprissa) for Venegas 60, Colindres (Saprissa) for Guzman 73. Booked: Guzman, Calvo. Serbia (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic (Partizan) 6; Ivanovic (Zenit) 6, Tosic (Besiktas) 6, Milenkovic (Fiorentina) 6, Kolarov (Roma) 7; Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) 8, Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) 6; Matic (Man Utd) 6, Ljajic (Torino) 7, Tadic (Southampton) 6; Mitrovic (Newcastle) 6. Subs: Kostic (Hamburg) for Ljajic 70, Rukavina (Villarreal) for Tadic 83, Prijovic (PAOK) for Mitrovic 90. Booked: Prijovic. Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal). 3:08PM Some full-time stats for you After losing five consecutive World Cup games between 1998 and 2010, Serbia have since won two of their last three in the competition (L1). Serbia have won their opening game at a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1998, when they did so as Yugoslavia against Iran (1-0). Serbia have now won all four of their World Cup games against teams from the CONCACAF region, with the first three of those coming as Yugoslavia between 1950 and 1998. Costa Rica suffered their first defeat at the World Cup since 2006 (1-2 v Poland), ending a run of five games unbeaten in the competition (W2 D3). And my favourite of all: Aleksandar Kolarov’s goal for Serbia was the third direct free-kick scored at this year’s World Cup (after Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo), which is already as many as there were in the entire 2014 tournament in Brazil. 3:05PM Next up It's Germany vs Mexico! Join Alan Tyers in our World Cup liveblog as he brings you the team news, updates and analysis from the match. 3:05PM The referee separating the players Credit: GETTY IMAGES This is that little rammy towards the end when Matic went nuts. It looks like the Costa Rica nine, Colindres, puts a full on slap on a Serbia player. Could be a red card, might not. I'd argue that the players are just getting fired up late on - if it had been earlier in the game then it would have been in the ref's interests to sort things out further. 3:02PM Who stood out there then? Let's do some player ratings. Costa Rica (3-4-3 / 5-4-1) Navas 7, Gamboa 6, Acosta 6, González 6, Duarte 6, Calvo 7, Venegas 6, Guzmán 6, Borges 6, Ruiz 6, Ureña 5 Serbia (4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2) Stojkovic 6, Ivanovic 6, Tosic 6, Milenkovic 6, Kolarov 7, Milinkovic-Savic 8, Milivojevic 6, Matic 6, Ljajic 6, Tadic 7, Mitrovic 5 2:58PM Analysis Average touch positions (full time) A game of one half. Specifically the right for Serbia and left for Costa Rica. Passes kept going down the one side of the pitch. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:55PM FULL TIME Credit: AFP And that's it! Serbia get a deserved win against a spirited Costa Rica. Kolarov's free-kick was a thing of wonder and has won the points. 2:54PM 90 mins +7 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 More controversy here. Prijovic has caught someone off the ball with his forearm and Acosta throws himself to the floor. Is this a red card? The VAR is in use! Aaaaand it's a yellow card. Another good decision (IMO). 2:52PM 90 mins +5 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 VAR time! The referee is reviewing that decision! He wants to see if Matic should be in more trouble... but the VAR says no. Seems fair. Costa Rica keep coming... the ball is hooked in, headed down IT'S A CHANCE FOR BOLANOS! And he's missed from six yards! Thankfully, the linesman calls offside and he is miles ahead of the last man. What a miss though. Dreadful finish. 2:50PM 90 mins +4 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 That's poor from the substitute Rukavina. He loses possession then doesn't try to win it back but now Serbia are on the counter-attack, with men over! And the ball's been lost. And now Matic is involved with the bench! He's getting all fired up needlessly with the Costa Rica staff. 2:49PM 90 mins +3 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick 40 yards out, hit it in the area and it;s headed away. Gamboa goes for a distance wondergoal but his long range effort is saved by the goalkeeper easily. 2:47PM 90 mins +1 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 M-Savic has had a superb game. His timing of pass and movement off the ball is excellent. Serbia take Mitrovic off for Prijovic. Serbia come forward again - they have men over! Kostic spots the chance to shoot but blasts over the bar. So many players have been jumping their shots miles over. Practise required. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Filip Kostic, 90 min) 2:45PM 89 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 MITROVIC IS IN AGAIN! And he's wasted the chance again! Oh my word. He's so very nearly a great player - gets in the right positions, is strong but his finishing isn't all that. And here he gets into the box, slows down to wait for the ball to roll ahead of his body and the Costa Rica defender goes down. Mitrovic goes down too but I suspect that's more a problem of balance than an actual foul. No VAR for this incident. 2:43PM 87 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Stojkovic gets someone to help him tie his shoelaces. Cunning time-wasting tactic? Or cruel window into a life spent never learning to tie shoelaces? Only he really knows. 2:41PM 85 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica are now focusing most of their play down the right, targeting Kolarov. Nothing's coming off at the moment now, they're running out of ideas. 2:39PM 82 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell's been lively since coming on but you can kind of tell he's not played much recently. A half yard off the pace on the ball has given Serbia defenders opportunity to rob him of possession. Rukavina comes on for Tadic, which is almost certainly to give Ivanovic back-up at right-back. It might mean a 5-4-1 for Serbia. 2:36PM 80 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell tries to work space for a shot on the edge of the area but is blocked. M-Savic pulls off another beautiful bit of skill to take the ball round the outside of a midfielder and puts Serbia on the attack. They're starting to look a little tired now... 2:35PM 78 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: TASS Ooooh that should be 2-0. Tadic gets in behind on the right and squares the pass into the six yard box. Navas dives at it, gets a tiny flick on it and Kostic has a side foot to finish in an empty net. He gets it all wrong though and the net is unharmed. 2:32PM 76 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Colindres comes on for Guzman, which means Costa Rica have used all their substitutions up. Serbia fire some passes together and link well. M-Savic has the chance to shoot 25 yards out, takes the chance but balloons his effort way over the bar. 2:30PM 74 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell is in behind! There's a lucky deflection and Campbell gets ahead of Milenkovic but just isn't sharp enough to beat him to the ball and get a shot away. Corner. The goalie comes to get the cross but is nowhere near it. Like someone's thrown a scarecrow into the air at the ball. Serbia survive and Mitrovic shields the ball high up the pitch. 2:29PM 72 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica free-kick wide left... Campbell takes it and a Serbian head puts it clear. Kostic tries to break but the ball goes out of play, Serbia go back to their 4-4-1-1 shape and get behind the ball. 2:27PM 70 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell goes on a little dribble into the box but Ljajic puts in a great tackle and wins the ball. Costa Rica in a clear 3-4-3 now and making much snappier passes. Now Serbia are taking their turn to defend with blocks of four. Ljajic comes off for Kostic. 2:24PM 68 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Here comes Joel Campbell! Urena heads off. Look at the difference in possession now! Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:22PM 66 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES What a photo that is! The ball smashing into the back of the net from Kolarov's free-kick. Serbia have dropped really deep now they're 1-0 up... I wonder whether the best form of defence might actually be attacking Costa Rica more. They're inviting trouble like this. 2:20PM 64 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 1 - Kolarov has been the first Serbian player to score from direct free kick at the WC since Sinisa Mihajlovic v Iran on 14 June 1998 (including Yugoslavia). Southpaw. pic.twitter.com/yLePjJ0cmn— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 17, 2018 Costa Rica taking the game to Serbia now and Serbia are dropping further and further back. 2:18PM 62 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick in the final third but Serbia defend deep and head away. Costa Rica trying to get back into the game straight away. You're at your most vulnerable just after scoring goes the old saying. 2:16PM 60 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Serbia have the momentum now. Ljajic makes a run ahead of the defence and just can't get on the end of a chipped pass from Tadic. Will Costa Rica come out of their defensive shell now? 2:13PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! WHAT A HIT! KOLAVOC HAS SCORED! Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Aleksandar Kolarov, 56 min) Navas had absolutely no chance! It's a perfect free-kick, curled over the wall with power into the top corner. Goal: Serbia ( 56 min ) Unstoppable. 2:13PM 56 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win another free-kick in a dangerous area. Kolarov can shoot from here and seems to be lining one up. 2:12PM 55 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic gets a head on the ball as Duarte grabs hold of him in full view of the referee. Consistency in refereeing? There's not an awful lot of difference between that incident and the one yesterday that resulted in a penalty for Argentina. 2:11PM 54 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia enjoying more of the ball here. Kolarov curls a cross to the box and wins a corner as Calvo heads away at the back post. The referee has to sort out some pushing and pulling in the area. 2:09PM 52 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia are stretching the pitch and attacking through the middle more now. Although another cross from wide is collected from Navas. 2:08PM 50 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 HUGE MISS! Mitrovic breaks the offside trap, is one on one with Navas and his shot is terrible. Navas saves well but Mitrovic has to score there. What a massive moment that could prove to be. 2:07PM 49 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are on the right (light blue), Serbia the left (dark blue). 2:03PM 47 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic comes back to help out Ivanovic early on as Bryan Ruiz skins him on the left wing. No change of tactic here then. 2:02PM KICK-OFF 2 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica start the second half. We're back! 2:00PM Next up World Cup 2018 tactics: Why Germany's goalkeeper is key to how they attack Don't forget that after this game is Germany vs Mexico! You can join Alan Tyers in our liveblog coverage of that once this match is over. And not a moment sooner! Don't leave me. Please. 1:57PM Serbia's strikers Check the starting position of Milinkovic-Savic in possession. He's a central striker! Patrice Evra on him being linked with Man Utd: "You need to be a character, a personality. I'm afraid now you miss players playing for the passion. If you said 20 years ago Patrice you play for Manchester United and you don't even get paid, you do it." Doesn't really answer the question but I think I know what I mean. At least he hasn't literally applauded Aluko's football knowledge with this answer. 1:49PM Serbia's very attacking average positions That's a 2-4-4! Love it. Average touch positions (42 min) Look at the near-comical focus on one particular side of the pitch. Poor Ivanovic, he'll be knackered at the end of this. 1:47PM HALF TIME - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Thoroughly entertaining stuff there. Costa Rica targeting Ivanovic down the left and relying on quick counter-attacks, while Serbia have done well without really taking advantage of all their possession. Where there's Mitrovic there's a chance and Milinkovic-Savic has turned up in dangerous areas too. I can see a goal or two in the second half. 1:46PM 45 mins +1 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Borges should be booked for pulling Ljajic back just as he was about to get Serbia moving in the Costa Rica half... but Mitrovic is penalised for a tiny nudge on the back of Gonzalez. 1:44PM 44 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 MILINKOVIC-SAVIC BICYLE KICK! Saved by Navas! Wow. That would have been something else! Ivanovic chips into the box, the Lazio man goes for the spectacular, the linesman says he's offside. He isn't, so that goal would have counted if it had gone in. 1:42PM 42 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are enjoying the ball for a while. They've been on the back foot for quite a lot of the game so far, though this possession stat feels like it's way off. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia Calvo cuts inside from the left once more and tries a shot on his right foot... but drags it wide of the near post. Out: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Francisco Calvo, 42 min) 1:40PM 40 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ohhhh there's a slip in the Serbia defence by Tosic and it's given Costa Rica a chance to shoot. Urena takes it... but that's miles away. Calvo then wins a corner off Ivanovic, who isn't being given any peace. 1:37PM 38 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Both players appear OK to continue after a pause in play. What a collision that was though. Like a train battering into... another train. Or a Costa Rica defender. Anyway, they're alright. 1:35PM 36 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic wins a free-kick right in the corner. The big lads come up for the set piece, which Kolarov will whip in as in in-swinger. Navas Superman throws himself at it and punches away and then Tosic batters into Acosta while going for a header and both are in a lot of pain. 1:34PM 34 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ivanovic over-hits an early cross from wide right and puts it out for a goal kick. Costa Rica have been impressive with how they stop Serbia's build-up play. By blocking the passing option, Serbia don't really have anywhere to go other than long but are trying to keep the ball in defence until an opportunity to get forward opens up. 1:30PM 31 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are blocking the Serbian passing lanes with three forwards and two midfielders behind them, and it's forcing the defenders to really think about where they move the ball so as not to concede possession in a dangerous counter-attacking area. Once the ball is past the halfway line Costa Rica are a 5-4-1... Serbia need another option. And there it is - the chipped pass to Mitrovic. 1:28PM 29 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Bit chance! Super run off the ball by Milinkovic-Savic but he doesn't get the ball out of his feet as a pass over the top puts him through on goal. A low shot is saved easily by Navas but the offside flag had one anyway. He gets away with that miss. 1:26PM 27 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great take by Tadic. The pass is fired straight at him at pace and he controls and flicks the ball on to keep a move going. It just won't drop for Mitrovic in the area and his shot is blocked. 1:24PM 25 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: AFP Serbia are focusing their attacks through the middle then moving play out to the right wing once in the final third. Costa Rica survive another decent move but Serbia are back in possession. You can see they're favouring that right wing here: Serbia crosses Calvo is the left wing-back and is on a yellow card now too. 1:22PM 23 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica get in down the left again though and... that's a shocking tackle. He doesn't mean to go in as heavy as he does but Calvo is rightly booked for a late slide tackle near the corner on Tadic. That's the sort of challenge you put in for a laugh on Pro Evo. 1:21PM 21 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia switch the play a couple of times but Costa Rica look organised and shift over to deny the space and win possession back. Serbia are getting Tadic deeper with Matic helping out on the right now to make sure Ivanovic isn't exposed. 1:19PM 19 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win a free-kick about 35 yards from goal and this will be aimed towards Mitrovic. The referee has to tell Guzman to stand further back from the kick but doesn't book him. The ball goes in, is headed at the back post... and Costa Rica manage to get it away then drop into their low block. 1:16PM 17 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great save by Navas! Serbia have men over, Ivanovic overlaps down the right and dribbles past his man but Navas blocks the low cross into the area. Serbia might be in again! Tadic chips to the back post for Mitrovic but nobody is following up. Milinkovic-Savic has had a couple of lovely touches in the approach play to both those moves. 1:14PM 15 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic receives the ball on the edge of the box, moves it onto his right foot and shoots but the effort is blocked and Navas catches. Costa Rica attack down the left wing again - they're targeting Ivanovic at right-back. Serbia look ropey at the back here. A dreadful pass forward has nearly gifted Costa Rica the chance to break with an overload but the centre-backs just about to manage to see out the danger. 1:12PM 13 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 FREE HEADER! What a miss! Oh my word. A short corner, the second cross gives Gonzalez a completely free header. Dreadful defending from Serbia - what were they doing there? Total chaos in the second phase of that set piece and Costa Rica should be 1-0 up. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Giancarlo González, 12 min) Gonzalez can't believe he's put that miles over the bar. 1:11PM 11 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Costa Rica are looking to use their pace to take on the full-backs. Ivanovic and Kolarov aren't the young men they once were but still have a bit speed left in the legs - Costa Rica look like they might have the running of them though. Costa Rica win a corner. 1:09PM 9 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are quick and break with three forwards. It's not quite coming together for them in the final third for now but they've been able to run with the ball in Serbia's half a couple of times now. 1:07PM 7 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mitrovic is causing problems with his strength upfront and Serbia are looking for him with long throws and chipped passes. Serbia attack through the middle, the ball drops to Kolarov and he tries a shot from 30 yards but pings it wide of goal. 1:05PM 5 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia get up the pitch and win another corner. Both teams are attacking quickly and it's already entertaining. Serbia can't get space in the area thanks to the close attentions of the Costa Rica defence and Kolarov fouls Gamboa while trying to win the second ball from the corner. Costa Rica go long. 1:03PM 3 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 But now Costa Rica are in! Urena gets in behind the defence after a Ruiz pass puts him there and he wins a corner! Mitrovic is back defending now and powers a header away from goal. Calvo joins in down the left and hooks a swinging cross into the area and GONZALEZ IS THERE! But his header is straight at the goalkeeper! What a start this is! 1:01PM 2 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia start with the ball and Mitrovic gets a touch inside the area within 30 seconds. Corner. If he'd controlled that properly he was in for a shot from about 10 yards! The corner comes in and it's headed at goal! Navas looks frantic as he hops onto his other foot... but the referee has spotted a foul. The sign of things to come? 1:00PM KICK OFF Here we go! 12:55PM National anthems 12:54PM Here come the players! Costa Rica will be a 5-4-1 and try to keep things tight and take advantage of counter-attack situations while Serbia will be a 4-2-3-1. The wing-backs will get forward, the defence will be protected by Matic and Milivojevic and Milinkovic-Savic will support Mitrovic throughout. 12:47PM Evra's wearing a tin foil hat Paul Pogba's goal against Australia has been taken away from him. It's an own goal now (because it is...) and Evra has just said he wishes people would leave Paul alone. "If it was Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo I wonder if they would take that goal away," he says. Perhaps he's preparing some sort of speech about jet fuel and steel beams for half time. Patrice Evra showing surprise and actually *clapping* Eni Aluko’s analysis... awful, patronising— Omar Chaudhuri (@OmarChaudhuri) June 17, 2018 12:45PM The warm-ups Credit: GETTY IMAGES The players are just finishing their warm-ups and soon they'll be out on the pitch ready to put on a spectacle. Kolarov was holding his knee for a bit of it but I'm not sure if he's picked up a knock or something during his little pre-match routine. Now, if you'd like to get updates sent to your phone on Whatsapp, sign up for this thing we have here: World Cup whatsapp promo It keeps you up to date with all the news and scores from the games. 12:39PM Take care of the ball and the ball will take care of you Vladimir Stojkovic �� Serbia’s goalkeeper kisses the ball after every save he makes! #SRB#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/JEjD9gYCu8— Kay Murray (@KayLMurray) June 17, 2018 12:38PM Evra is impressed by a woman knowing football "Wow I'm really impressed, she knows more about the game than us," says Evra, in a somewhat* patronising way to Eni Aluko. Do your research pal. ITV have been pretty good at getting their pundits well read before going on air to be fair. Aluko has been explaining what makes Milinkovic-Savic such a threat, detailing his ability to play with the ball at feet but that he's also great at attacking and will support Mitrovic throughout today's game. *incredibly. 12:33PM The current and ex-pros' opinions "They're a strong defensive team but they don't score a lot of goals," says Eni Aluko of Costa Rica. Henrik Larsson and Patrice Evra make up the rest of ITV's pundits bench today. That's a strong lineup. 12:27PM Ivanovic becomes Serbia's all-time most capped player Credit: FIFA Today is his 104th cap, so assuming nothing changes before kick-off he will become the most capped player in the history of Serbia, surpassing Dejan Stankovic. But the real question is how tall is he compared to Mel from Mel and Sue? At 6 feet tall that makes him 1.something Mels from Mel and Sue. 12:24PM Inside the dressing rooms Credit: FIFA Credit: FIFA 12:22PM Our lovely new columnist Cesc Fabregas has joined our writing team for the World Cup and his first couple of columns are already up on the website. You can read his thoughts on Raheem Sterling here. Cesc Fabregas column: England's Raheem Sterling can deliver on the biggest stage 12:17PM Star players to look out for Keylor Navas is by far and away the best player on this Costa Rica team and according to my handy Football Manager database app (their database is used as a scouting tool by top level clubs around the world...), with an average rating of 81 he's way ahead of Borges and Campbell, both rated at 69. Bryan Ruiz shares the same rating... and then everything goes a bit south from there. Serbia meanwhile have some of the most highly rated young players in the world. Predrag Rajkovic is on the bench but at a base level 67 is expected to be about an 85 at some point in his career. I realise some of you might think I'm talking nonsense using a video game's database but their hit rate and accuracy is awesome. Matic - 78, Milinkovic-Savic -78, Adem Ljajic - 72, Aleksandar Kolarov -73... I think you get the idea. If Serbia can work their way around the Costa Rica low block and avoid making any particularly silly mistakes, they should really win this. 12:06PM Those teams in written form Costa Rica (3-5-2 / 5-4-1) Navas, Gamboa, Acosta, González, Duarte, Calvo, Venegas, Guzmán, Borges, Ruiz, Ureña Serbia (4-2-3-1) Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Tosic, Milenkovic, Kolarov, Milinkovic-Savic, Milivojevic, Matic, Ljajic, Tadic, Mitrovic Got to think Serbia are missing a trick leaving all the Football Manager wonderkids out. Zivkovic and Rajkovic on the bench? What is this - amateur hour? pic.twitter.com/LiPrSQumMX— JJ Bull (@jj_bull) June 17, 2018 12:00PM Starting lineups 10 'ic' and one Kolarov: Who's ready for the first match of the day? Here are the teams for #CRCSRB ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/np2DCvEQ78— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 17, 2018 11:59AM The best kits World Cup kits ranked 11:47AM Where is today's game? Well that would be the Samara Arena of course: World Cup 2018 stadium: Samara Arena And as we all know [looks down at phone] it is is the sixth largest city in Russia. This is what the stadium looks like.: Credit: FIFA And the inside is even cooler: Credit: REUTERS 11:40AM Welcome! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for Costa Rica vs Serbia, a match which should be really entertaining and one I'm looking forward to. Yesterday was another brilliant day of World Cup football notable for featuring several high profile VAR moments - it seems like having that extra help has really allowed referees to make some attack-minded decisions and goals make games great. So what to expect today? Serbia have the better (arguably - and I will argue it) group of players with several wonderkids supplemented by hardworking others. Nemanja Matic can run the midfield, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is one of the hottest prospects in football and Dusan Tadic is guaranteed to create chances to score. “As far as this story about me lacking experience, I don’t have any problem because I am working with professional players who prove themselves in clubs across Europe,” their manager Mladen Krstajic said. “My conscience is clear because we are working really well and have been together for three weeks. These are things that make me happy. “We have to be focused, responsible. When I met my squad for the first time I said let's relax, be friends off the pitch, but when comes to matches, everyone has to be responsible.” Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players In the red corner, Costa Rica aren't quite so strong but do have Keylor Navas in goal. You know, the Real Madrid guy. Yeh, him. Other than that, Arsenal's eternally nomadic loanee Joel Campbell is perhaps their best bet of getting a result with Celso Borges the most likely to set someone up for a goal. They didn't impress at all in defeat to England recently and were hammered by Belgium too - today is a massive test. Team news should be with us soon and I'll endeavour to bring you that as well as all the build-up and then analysis of the live action. Stick around to join in the fun.
Aleksandar Kolarov produced a ­moment of captain’s inspiration, curling home a superb free-kick as Serbia got their Group E campaign up and running on Sunday. The former Manchester City full-back had appeared to be injured in the warm-up but recovered to curl in the winner against Costa Rica. Serbia had dominated the match but chances were at a premium 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 lifted a weight from coach Mladen Krstajic, in what was his first competitive game. “There was a great deal of pressure on the team, and on me, over the past seven months,” said Krstajic, who took the job in October. Krstajic’s relief was matched in equal measure by the disappointment of Oscar Ramirez, the Costa Rica manager, whose side are now in a precarious position. “Maybe we have lost a certain margin for qualifying,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult, but our intention remains the same. I told the lads ‘This isn’t over’.” Aleksandar Kolarov struck a wonderful free-kick to win all three points for Serbia Credit: REUTERS If Costa Rica are going to recover, they will need to rediscover the defensive organisation and clinical counter-attacks that propelled them to the quarter-finals four years ago. Serbia found it hard to break them down, but they rarely looked troubled at the back and, barring a late half-chance for substitute Joel Campbell, they coasted through the game. The match began in furious ­fashion, with Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic having a header scooped off the line and Costa Rica’s Giancarlo Gonzalez failing to convert two headed chances. But it soon 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. Mitrovic failed to find the net with a good chance early in the second half, but it mattered little when Kolarov, the AS Roma left-back, produced his moment of magic, curling a free kick, left-footed, over the wall and past the despairing dive of Navas. “It is great to have three points, but we are not finished. I don’t want to do the maths yet,” Kolarov said. Match details Costa Rica (3-4-3): Navas (Real Madrid) 7; Gamboa (Celtic) 6, Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas) 6, Gonzalez (Bologna) 6; Duarte (Espanyol) 6, Calvo (Minnesota) 7, Venegas (Saprissa) 6, Guzman (Portland) 6; Borges (Coruna) 6, Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon) 6, Urena (Los Angeles) 5. Subs: Campbell (Arsenal) for Urena 73, Bolanos (Saprissa) for Venegas 60, Colindres (Saprissa) for Guzman 73. Booked: Guzman, Calvo. Serbia (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic (Partizan) 6; Ivanovic (Zenit) 6, Tosic (Besiktas) 6, Milenkovic (Fiorentina) 6, Kolarov (Roma) 7; Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) 8, Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) 6; Matic (Man Utd) 6, Ljajic (Torino) 7, Tadic (Southampton) 6; Mitrovic (Newcastle) 6. Subs: Kostic (Hamburg) for Ljajic 70, Rukavina (Villarreal) for Tadic 83, Prijovic (PAOK) for Mitrovic 90. Booked: Prijovic. Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal). 3:08PM Some full-time stats for you After losing five consecutive World Cup games between 1998 and 2010, Serbia have since won two of their last three in the competition (L1). Serbia have won their opening game at a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1998, when they did so as Yugoslavia against Iran (1-0). Serbia have now won all four of their World Cup games against teams from the CONCACAF region, with the first three of those coming as Yugoslavia between 1950 and 1998. Costa Rica suffered their first defeat at the World Cup since 2006 (1-2 v Poland), ending a run of five games unbeaten in the competition (W2 D3). And my favourite of all: Aleksandar Kolarov’s goal for Serbia was the third direct free-kick scored at this year’s World Cup (after Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo), which is already as many as there were in the entire 2014 tournament in Brazil. 3:05PM Next up It's Germany vs Mexico! Join Alan Tyers in our World Cup liveblog as he brings you the team news, updates and analysis from the match. 3:05PM The referee separating the players Credit: GETTY IMAGES This is that little rammy towards the end when Matic went nuts. It looks like the Costa Rica nine, Colindres, puts a full on slap on a Serbia player. Could be a red card, might not. I'd argue that the players are just getting fired up late on - if it had been earlier in the game then it would have been in the ref's interests to sort things out further. 3:02PM Who stood out there then? Let's do some player ratings. Costa Rica (3-4-3 / 5-4-1) Navas 7, Gamboa 6, Acosta 6, González 6, Duarte 6, Calvo 7, Venegas 6, Guzmán 6, Borges 6, Ruiz 6, Ureña 5 Serbia (4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2) Stojkovic 6, Ivanovic 6, Tosic 6, Milenkovic 6, Kolarov 7, Milinkovic-Savic 8, Milivojevic 6, Matic 6, Ljajic 6, Tadic 7, Mitrovic 5 2:58PM Analysis Average touch positions (full time) A game of one half. Specifically the right for Serbia and left for Costa Rica. Passes kept going down the one side of the pitch. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:55PM FULL TIME Credit: AFP And that's it! Serbia get a deserved win against a spirited Costa Rica. Kolarov's free-kick was a thing of wonder and has won the points. 2:54PM 90 mins +7 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 More controversy here. Prijovic has caught someone off the ball with his forearm and Acosta throws himself to the floor. Is this a red card? The VAR is in use! Aaaaand it's a yellow card. Another good decision (IMO). 2:52PM 90 mins +5 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 VAR time! The referee is reviewing that decision! He wants to see if Matic should be in more trouble... but the VAR says no. Seems fair. Costa Rica keep coming... the ball is hooked in, headed down IT'S A CHANCE FOR BOLANOS! And he's missed from six yards! Thankfully, the linesman calls offside and he is miles ahead of the last man. What a miss though. Dreadful finish. 2:50PM 90 mins +4 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 That's poor from the substitute Rukavina. He loses possession then doesn't try to win it back but now Serbia are on the counter-attack, with men over! And the ball's been lost. And now Matic is involved with the bench! He's getting all fired up needlessly with the Costa Rica staff. 2:49PM 90 mins +3 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick 40 yards out, hit it in the area and it;s headed away. Gamboa goes for a distance wondergoal but his long range effort is saved by the goalkeeper easily. 2:47PM 90 mins +1 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 M-Savic has had a superb game. His timing of pass and movement off the ball is excellent. Serbia take Mitrovic off for Prijovic. Serbia come forward again - they have men over! Kostic spots the chance to shoot but blasts over the bar. So many players have been jumping their shots miles over. Practise required. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Filip Kostic, 90 min) 2:45PM 89 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 MITROVIC IS IN AGAIN! And he's wasted the chance again! Oh my word. He's so very nearly a great player - gets in the right positions, is strong but his finishing isn't all that. And here he gets into the box, slows down to wait for the ball to roll ahead of his body and the Costa Rica defender goes down. Mitrovic goes down too but I suspect that's more a problem of balance than an actual foul. No VAR for this incident. 2:43PM 87 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Stojkovic gets someone to help him tie his shoelaces. Cunning time-wasting tactic? Or cruel window into a life spent never learning to tie shoelaces? Only he really knows. 2:41PM 85 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica are now focusing most of their play down the right, targeting Kolarov. Nothing's coming off at the moment now, they're running out of ideas. 2:39PM 82 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell's been lively since coming on but you can kind of tell he's not played much recently. A half yard off the pace on the ball has given Serbia defenders opportunity to rob him of possession. Rukavina comes on for Tadic, which is almost certainly to give Ivanovic back-up at right-back. It might mean a 5-4-1 for Serbia. 2:36PM 80 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell tries to work space for a shot on the edge of the area but is blocked. M-Savic pulls off another beautiful bit of skill to take the ball round the outside of a midfielder and puts Serbia on the attack. They're starting to look a little tired now... 2:35PM 78 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: TASS Ooooh that should be 2-0. Tadic gets in behind on the right and squares the pass into the six yard box. Navas dives at it, gets a tiny flick on it and Kostic has a side foot to finish in an empty net. He gets it all wrong though and the net is unharmed. 2:32PM 76 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Colindres comes on for Guzman, which means Costa Rica have used all their substitutions up. Serbia fire some passes together and link well. M-Savic has the chance to shoot 25 yards out, takes the chance but balloons his effort way over the bar. 2:30PM 74 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell is in behind! There's a lucky deflection and Campbell gets ahead of Milenkovic but just isn't sharp enough to beat him to the ball and get a shot away. Corner. The goalie comes to get the cross but is nowhere near it. Like someone's thrown a scarecrow into the air at the ball. Serbia survive and Mitrovic shields the ball high up the pitch. 2:29PM 72 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica free-kick wide left... Campbell takes it and a Serbian head puts it clear. Kostic tries to break but the ball goes out of play, Serbia go back to their 4-4-1-1 shape and get behind the ball. 2:27PM 70 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell goes on a little dribble into the box but Ljajic puts in a great tackle and wins the ball. Costa Rica in a clear 3-4-3 now and making much snappier passes. Now Serbia are taking their turn to defend with blocks of four. Ljajic comes off for Kostic. 2:24PM 68 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Here comes Joel Campbell! Urena heads off. Look at the difference in possession now! Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:22PM 66 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES What a photo that is! The ball smashing into the back of the net from Kolarov's free-kick. Serbia have dropped really deep now they're 1-0 up... I wonder whether the best form of defence might actually be attacking Costa Rica more. They're inviting trouble like this. 2:20PM 64 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 1 - Kolarov has been the first Serbian player to score from direct free kick at the WC since Sinisa Mihajlovic v Iran on 14 June 1998 (including Yugoslavia). Southpaw. pic.twitter.com/yLePjJ0cmn— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 17, 2018 Costa Rica taking the game to Serbia now and Serbia are dropping further and further back. 2:18PM 62 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick in the final third but Serbia defend deep and head away. Costa Rica trying to get back into the game straight away. You're at your most vulnerable just after scoring goes the old saying. 2:16PM 60 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Serbia have the momentum now. Ljajic makes a run ahead of the defence and just can't get on the end of a chipped pass from Tadic. Will Costa Rica come out of their defensive shell now? 2:13PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! WHAT A HIT! KOLAVOC HAS SCORED! Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Aleksandar Kolarov, 56 min) Navas had absolutely no chance! It's a perfect free-kick, curled over the wall with power into the top corner. Goal: Serbia ( 56 min ) Unstoppable. 2:13PM 56 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win another free-kick in a dangerous area. Kolarov can shoot from here and seems to be lining one up. 2:12PM 55 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic gets a head on the ball as Duarte grabs hold of him in full view of the referee. Consistency in refereeing? There's not an awful lot of difference between that incident and the one yesterday that resulted in a penalty for Argentina. 2:11PM 54 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia enjoying more of the ball here. Kolarov curls a cross to the box and wins a corner as Calvo heads away at the back post. The referee has to sort out some pushing and pulling in the area. 2:09PM 52 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia are stretching the pitch and attacking through the middle more now. Although another cross from wide is collected from Navas. 2:08PM 50 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 HUGE MISS! Mitrovic breaks the offside trap, is one on one with Navas and his shot is terrible. Navas saves well but Mitrovic has to score there. What a massive moment that could prove to be. 2:07PM 49 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are on the right (light blue), Serbia the left (dark blue). 2:03PM 47 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic comes back to help out Ivanovic early on as Bryan Ruiz skins him on the left wing. No change of tactic here then. 2:02PM KICK-OFF 2 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica start the second half. We're back! 2:00PM Next up World Cup 2018 tactics: Why Germany's goalkeeper is key to how they attack Don't forget that after this game is Germany vs Mexico! You can join Alan Tyers in our liveblog coverage of that once this match is over. And not a moment sooner! Don't leave me. Please. 1:57PM Serbia's strikers Check the starting position of Milinkovic-Savic in possession. He's a central striker! Patrice Evra on him being linked with Man Utd: "You need to be a character, a personality. I'm afraid now you miss players playing for the passion. If you said 20 years ago Patrice you play for Manchester United and you don't even get paid, you do it." Doesn't really answer the question but I think I know what I mean. At least he hasn't literally applauded Aluko's football knowledge with this answer. 1:49PM Serbia's very attacking average positions That's a 2-4-4! Love it. Average touch positions (42 min) Look at the near-comical focus on one particular side of the pitch. Poor Ivanovic, he'll be knackered at the end of this. 1:47PM HALF TIME - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Thoroughly entertaining stuff there. Costa Rica targeting Ivanovic down the left and relying on quick counter-attacks, while Serbia have done well without really taking advantage of all their possession. Where there's Mitrovic there's a chance and Milinkovic-Savic has turned up in dangerous areas too. I can see a goal or two in the second half. 1:46PM 45 mins +1 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Borges should be booked for pulling Ljajic back just as he was about to get Serbia moving in the Costa Rica half... but Mitrovic is penalised for a tiny nudge on the back of Gonzalez. 1:44PM 44 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 MILINKOVIC-SAVIC BICYLE KICK! Saved by Navas! Wow. That would have been something else! Ivanovic chips into the box, the Lazio man goes for the spectacular, the linesman says he's offside. He isn't, so that goal would have counted if it had gone in. 1:42PM 42 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are enjoying the ball for a while. They've been on the back foot for quite a lot of the game so far, though this possession stat feels like it's way off. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia Calvo cuts inside from the left once more and tries a shot on his right foot... but drags it wide of the near post. Out: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Francisco Calvo, 42 min) 1:40PM 40 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ohhhh there's a slip in the Serbia defence by Tosic and it's given Costa Rica a chance to shoot. Urena takes it... but that's miles away. Calvo then wins a corner off Ivanovic, who isn't being given any peace. 1:37PM 38 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Both players appear OK to continue after a pause in play. What a collision that was though. Like a train battering into... another train. Or a Costa Rica defender. Anyway, they're alright. 1:35PM 36 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic wins a free-kick right in the corner. The big lads come up for the set piece, which Kolarov will whip in as in in-swinger. Navas Superman throws himself at it and punches away and then Tosic batters into Acosta while going for a header and both are in a lot of pain. 1:34PM 34 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ivanovic over-hits an early cross from wide right and puts it out for a goal kick. Costa Rica have been impressive with how they stop Serbia's build-up play. By blocking the passing option, Serbia don't really have anywhere to go other than long but are trying to keep the ball in defence until an opportunity to get forward opens up. 1:30PM 31 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are blocking the Serbian passing lanes with three forwards and two midfielders behind them, and it's forcing the defenders to really think about where they move the ball so as not to concede possession in a dangerous counter-attacking area. Once the ball is past the halfway line Costa Rica are a 5-4-1... Serbia need another option. And there it is - the chipped pass to Mitrovic. 1:28PM 29 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Bit chance! Super run off the ball by Milinkovic-Savic but he doesn't get the ball out of his feet as a pass over the top puts him through on goal. A low shot is saved easily by Navas but the offside flag had one anyway. He gets away with that miss. 1:26PM 27 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great take by Tadic. The pass is fired straight at him at pace and he controls and flicks the ball on to keep a move going. It just won't drop for Mitrovic in the area and his shot is blocked. 1:24PM 25 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: AFP Serbia are focusing their attacks through the middle then moving play out to the right wing once in the final third. Costa Rica survive another decent move but Serbia are back in possession. You can see they're favouring that right wing here: Serbia crosses Calvo is the left wing-back and is on a yellow card now too. 1:22PM 23 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica get in down the left again though and... that's a shocking tackle. He doesn't mean to go in as heavy as he does but Calvo is rightly booked for a late slide tackle near the corner on Tadic. That's the sort of challenge you put in for a laugh on Pro Evo. 1:21PM 21 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia switch the play a couple of times but Costa Rica look organised and shift over to deny the space and win possession back. Serbia are getting Tadic deeper with Matic helping out on the right now to make sure Ivanovic isn't exposed. 1:19PM 19 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win a free-kick about 35 yards from goal and this will be aimed towards Mitrovic. The referee has to tell Guzman to stand further back from the kick but doesn't book him. The ball goes in, is headed at the back post... and Costa Rica manage to get it away then drop into their low block. 1:16PM 17 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great save by Navas! Serbia have men over, Ivanovic overlaps down the right and dribbles past his man but Navas blocks the low cross into the area. Serbia might be in again! Tadic chips to the back post for Mitrovic but nobody is following up. Milinkovic-Savic has had a couple of lovely touches in the approach play to both those moves. 1:14PM 15 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic receives the ball on the edge of the box, moves it onto his right foot and shoots but the effort is blocked and Navas catches. Costa Rica attack down the left wing again - they're targeting Ivanovic at right-back. Serbia look ropey at the back here. A dreadful pass forward has nearly gifted Costa Rica the chance to break with an overload but the centre-backs just about to manage to see out the danger. 1:12PM 13 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 FREE HEADER! What a miss! Oh my word. A short corner, the second cross gives Gonzalez a completely free header. Dreadful defending from Serbia - what were they doing there? Total chaos in the second phase of that set piece and Costa Rica should be 1-0 up. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Giancarlo González, 12 min) Gonzalez can't believe he's put that miles over the bar. 1:11PM 11 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Costa Rica are looking to use their pace to take on the full-backs. Ivanovic and Kolarov aren't the young men they once were but still have a bit speed left in the legs - Costa Rica look like they might have the running of them though. Costa Rica win a corner. 1:09PM 9 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are quick and break with three forwards. It's not quite coming together for them in the final third for now but they've been able to run with the ball in Serbia's half a couple of times now. 1:07PM 7 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mitrovic is causing problems with his strength upfront and Serbia are looking for him with long throws and chipped passes. Serbia attack through the middle, the ball drops to Kolarov and he tries a shot from 30 yards but pings it wide of goal. 1:05PM 5 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia get up the pitch and win another corner. Both teams are attacking quickly and it's already entertaining. Serbia can't get space in the area thanks to the close attentions of the Costa Rica defence and Kolarov fouls Gamboa while trying to win the second ball from the corner. Costa Rica go long. 1:03PM 3 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 But now Costa Rica are in! Urena gets in behind the defence after a Ruiz pass puts him there and he wins a corner! Mitrovic is back defending now and powers a header away from goal. Calvo joins in down the left and hooks a swinging cross into the area and GONZALEZ IS THERE! But his header is straight at the goalkeeper! What a start this is! 1:01PM 2 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia start with the ball and Mitrovic gets a touch inside the area within 30 seconds. Corner. If he'd controlled that properly he was in for a shot from about 10 yards! The corner comes in and it's headed at goal! Navas looks frantic as he hops onto his other foot... but the referee has spotted a foul. The sign of things to come? 1:00PM KICK OFF Here we go! 12:55PM National anthems 12:54PM Here come the players! Costa Rica will be a 5-4-1 and try to keep things tight and take advantage of counter-attack situations while Serbia will be a 4-2-3-1. The wing-backs will get forward, the defence will be protected by Matic and Milivojevic and Milinkovic-Savic will support Mitrovic throughout. 12:47PM Evra's wearing a tin foil hat Paul Pogba's goal against Australia has been taken away from him. It's an own goal now (because it is...) and Evra has just said he wishes people would leave Paul alone. "If it was Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo I wonder if they would take that goal away," he says. Perhaps he's preparing some sort of speech about jet fuel and steel beams for half time. Patrice Evra showing surprise and actually *clapping* Eni Aluko’s analysis... awful, patronising— Omar Chaudhuri (@OmarChaudhuri) June 17, 2018 12:45PM The warm-ups Credit: GETTY IMAGES The players are just finishing their warm-ups and soon they'll be out on the pitch ready to put on a spectacle. Kolarov was holding his knee for a bit of it but I'm not sure if he's picked up a knock or something during his little pre-match routine. Now, if you'd like to get updates sent to your phone on Whatsapp, sign up for this thing we have here: World Cup whatsapp promo It keeps you up to date with all the news and scores from the games. 12:39PM Take care of the ball and the ball will take care of you Vladimir Stojkovic �� Serbia’s goalkeeper kisses the ball after every save he makes! #SRB#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/JEjD9gYCu8— Kay Murray (@KayLMurray) June 17, 2018 12:38PM Evra is impressed by a woman knowing football "Wow I'm really impressed, she knows more about the game than us," says Evra, in a somewhat* patronising way to Eni Aluko. Do your research pal. ITV have been pretty good at getting their pundits well read before going on air to be fair. Aluko has been explaining what makes Milinkovic-Savic such a threat, detailing his ability to play with the ball at feet but that he's also great at attacking and will support Mitrovic throughout today's game. *incredibly. 12:33PM The current and ex-pros' opinions "They're a strong defensive team but they don't score a lot of goals," says Eni Aluko of Costa Rica. Henrik Larsson and Patrice Evra make up the rest of ITV's pundits bench today. That's a strong lineup. 12:27PM Ivanovic becomes Serbia's all-time most capped player Credit: FIFA Today is his 104th cap, so assuming nothing changes before kick-off he will become the most capped player in the history of Serbia, surpassing Dejan Stankovic. But the real question is how tall is he compared to Mel from Mel and Sue? At 6 feet tall that makes him 1.something Mels from Mel and Sue. 12:24PM Inside the dressing rooms Credit: FIFA Credit: FIFA 12:22PM Our lovely new columnist Cesc Fabregas has joined our writing team for the World Cup and his first couple of columns are already up on the website. You can read his thoughts on Raheem Sterling here. Cesc Fabregas column: England's Raheem Sterling can deliver on the biggest stage 12:17PM Star players to look out for Keylor Navas is by far and away the best player on this Costa Rica team and according to my handy Football Manager database app (their database is used as a scouting tool by top level clubs around the world...), with an average rating of 81 he's way ahead of Borges and Campbell, both rated at 69. Bryan Ruiz shares the same rating... and then everything goes a bit south from there. Serbia meanwhile have some of the most highly rated young players in the world. Predrag Rajkovic is on the bench but at a base level 67 is expected to be about an 85 at some point in his career. I realise some of you might think I'm talking nonsense using a video game's database but their hit rate and accuracy is awesome. Matic - 78, Milinkovic-Savic -78, Adem Ljajic - 72, Aleksandar Kolarov -73... I think you get the idea. If Serbia can work their way around the Costa Rica low block and avoid making any particularly silly mistakes, they should really win this. 12:06PM Those teams in written form Costa Rica (3-5-2 / 5-4-1) Navas, Gamboa, Acosta, González, Duarte, Calvo, Venegas, Guzmán, Borges, Ruiz, Ureña Serbia (4-2-3-1) Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Tosic, Milenkovic, Kolarov, Milinkovic-Savic, Milivojevic, Matic, Ljajic, Tadic, Mitrovic Got to think Serbia are missing a trick leaving all the Football Manager wonderkids out. Zivkovic and Rajkovic on the bench? What is this - amateur hour? pic.twitter.com/LiPrSQumMX— JJ Bull (@jj_bull) June 17, 2018 12:00PM Starting lineups 10 'ic' and one Kolarov: Who's ready for the first match of the day? Here are the teams for #CRCSRB ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/np2DCvEQ78— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 17, 2018 11:59AM The best kits World Cup kits ranked 11:47AM Where is today's game? Well that would be the Samara Arena of course: World Cup 2018 stadium: Samara Arena And as we all know [looks down at phone] it is is the sixth largest city in Russia. This is what the stadium looks like.: Credit: FIFA And the inside is even cooler: Credit: REUTERS 11:40AM Welcome! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for Costa Rica vs Serbia, a match which should be really entertaining and one I'm looking forward to. Yesterday was another brilliant day of World Cup football notable for featuring several high profile VAR moments - it seems like having that extra help has really allowed referees to make some attack-minded decisions and goals make games great. So what to expect today? Serbia have the better (arguably - and I will argue it) group of players with several wonderkids supplemented by hardworking others. Nemanja Matic can run the midfield, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is one of the hottest prospects in football and Dusan Tadic is guaranteed to create chances to score. “As far as this story about me lacking experience, I don’t have any problem because I am working with professional players who prove themselves in clubs across Europe,” their manager Mladen Krstajic said. “My conscience is clear because we are working really well and have been together for three weeks. These are things that make me happy. “We have to be focused, responsible. When I met my squad for the first time I said let's relax, be friends off the pitch, but when comes to matches, everyone has to be responsible.” Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players In the red corner, Costa Rica aren't quite so strong but do have Keylor Navas in goal. You know, the Real Madrid guy. Yeh, him. Other than that, Arsenal's eternally nomadic loanee Joel Campbell is perhaps their best bet of getting a result with Celso Borges the most likely to set someone up for a goal. They didn't impress at all in defeat to England recently and were hammered by Belgium too - today is a massive test. Team news should be with us soon and I'll endeavour to bring you that as well as all the build-up and then analysis of the live action. Stick around to join in the fun.
Aleksandar Kolarov scores sensational free-kick as Serbia claim hard-fought World Cup 2018 win against Costa Rica
Aleksandar Kolarov produced a ­moment of captain’s inspiration, curling home a superb free-kick as Serbia got their Group E campaign up and running on Sunday. The former Manchester City full-back had appeared to be injured in the warm-up but recovered to curl in the winner against Costa Rica. Serbia had dominated the match but chances were at a premium 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 lifted a weight from coach Mladen Krstajic, in what was his first competitive game. “There was a great deal of pressure on the team, and on me, over the past seven months,” said Krstajic, who took the job in October. Krstajic’s relief was matched in equal measure by the disappointment of Oscar Ramirez, the Costa Rica manager, whose side are now in a precarious position. “Maybe we have lost a certain margin for qualifying,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult, but our intention remains the same. I told the lads ‘This isn’t over’.” Aleksandar Kolarov struck a wonderful free-kick to win all three points for Serbia Credit: REUTERS If Costa Rica are going to recover, they will need to rediscover the defensive organisation and clinical counter-attacks that propelled them to the quarter-finals four years ago. Serbia found it hard to break them down, but they rarely looked troubled at the back and, barring a late half-chance for substitute Joel Campbell, they coasted through the game. The match began in furious ­fashion, with Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic having a header scooped off the line and Costa Rica’s Giancarlo Gonzalez failing to convert two headed chances. But it soon 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. Mitrovic failed to find the net with a good chance early in the second half, but it mattered little when Kolarov, the AS Roma left-back, produced his moment of magic, curling a free kick, left-footed, over the wall and past the despairing dive of Navas. “It is great to have three points, but we are not finished. I don’t want to do the maths yet,” Kolarov said. Match details Costa Rica (3-4-3): Navas (Real Madrid) 7; Gamboa (Celtic) 6, Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas) 6, Gonzalez (Bologna) 6; Duarte (Espanyol) 6, Calvo (Minnesota) 7, Venegas (Saprissa) 6, Guzman (Portland) 6; Borges (Coruna) 6, Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon) 6, Urena (Los Angeles) 5. Subs: Campbell (Arsenal) for Urena 73, Bolanos (Saprissa) for Venegas 60, Colindres (Saprissa) for Guzman 73. Booked: Guzman, Calvo. Serbia (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic (Partizan) 6; Ivanovic (Zenit) 6, Tosic (Besiktas) 6, Milenkovic (Fiorentina) 6, Kolarov (Roma) 7; Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) 8, Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) 6; Matic (Man Utd) 6, Ljajic (Torino) 7, Tadic (Southampton) 6; Mitrovic (Newcastle) 6. Subs: Kostic (Hamburg) for Ljajic 70, Rukavina (Villarreal) for Tadic 83, Prijovic (PAOK) for Mitrovic 90. Booked: Prijovic. Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal). 3:08PM Some full-time stats for you After losing five consecutive World Cup games between 1998 and 2010, Serbia have since won two of their last three in the competition (L1). Serbia have won their opening game at a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1998, when they did so as Yugoslavia against Iran (1-0). Serbia have now won all four of their World Cup games against teams from the CONCACAF region, with the first three of those coming as Yugoslavia between 1950 and 1998. Costa Rica suffered their first defeat at the World Cup since 2006 (1-2 v Poland), ending a run of five games unbeaten in the competition (W2 D3). And my favourite of all: Aleksandar Kolarov’s goal for Serbia was the third direct free-kick scored at this year’s World Cup (after Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo), which is already as many as there were in the entire 2014 tournament in Brazil. 3:05PM Next up It's Germany vs Mexico! Join Alan Tyers in our World Cup liveblog as he brings you the team news, updates and analysis from the match. 3:05PM The referee separating the players Credit: GETTY IMAGES This is that little rammy towards the end when Matic went nuts. It looks like the Costa Rica nine, Colindres, puts a full on slap on a Serbia player. Could be a red card, might not. I'd argue that the players are just getting fired up late on - if it had been earlier in the game then it would have been in the ref's interests to sort things out further. 3:02PM Who stood out there then? Let's do some player ratings. Costa Rica (3-4-3 / 5-4-1) Navas 7, Gamboa 6, Acosta 6, González 6, Duarte 6, Calvo 7, Venegas 6, Guzmán 6, Borges 6, Ruiz 6, Ureña 5 Serbia (4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2) Stojkovic 6, Ivanovic 6, Tosic 6, Milenkovic 6, Kolarov 7, Milinkovic-Savic 8, Milivojevic 6, Matic 6, Ljajic 6, Tadic 7, Mitrovic 5 2:58PM Analysis Average touch positions (full time) A game of one half. Specifically the right for Serbia and left for Costa Rica. Passes kept going down the one side of the pitch. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:55PM FULL TIME Credit: AFP And that's it! Serbia get a deserved win against a spirited Costa Rica. Kolarov's free-kick was a thing of wonder and has won the points. 2:54PM 90 mins +7 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 More controversy here. Prijovic has caught someone off the ball with his forearm and Acosta throws himself to the floor. Is this a red card? The VAR is in use! Aaaaand it's a yellow card. Another good decision (IMO). 2:52PM 90 mins +5 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 VAR time! The referee is reviewing that decision! He wants to see if Matic should be in more trouble... but the VAR says no. Seems fair. Costa Rica keep coming... the ball is hooked in, headed down IT'S A CHANCE FOR BOLANOS! And he's missed from six yards! Thankfully, the linesman calls offside and he is miles ahead of the last man. What a miss though. Dreadful finish. 2:50PM 90 mins +4 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 That's poor from the substitute Rukavina. He loses possession then doesn't try to win it back but now Serbia are on the counter-attack, with men over! And the ball's been lost. And now Matic is involved with the bench! He's getting all fired up needlessly with the Costa Rica staff. 2:49PM 90 mins +3 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick 40 yards out, hit it in the area and it;s headed away. Gamboa goes for a distance wondergoal but his long range effort is saved by the goalkeeper easily. 2:47PM 90 mins +1 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 M-Savic has had a superb game. His timing of pass and movement off the ball is excellent. Serbia take Mitrovic off for Prijovic. Serbia come forward again - they have men over! Kostic spots the chance to shoot but blasts over the bar. So many players have been jumping their shots miles over. Practise required. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Filip Kostic, 90 min) 2:45PM 89 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 MITROVIC IS IN AGAIN! And he's wasted the chance again! Oh my word. He's so very nearly a great player - gets in the right positions, is strong but his finishing isn't all that. And here he gets into the box, slows down to wait for the ball to roll ahead of his body and the Costa Rica defender goes down. Mitrovic goes down too but I suspect that's more a problem of balance than an actual foul. No VAR for this incident. 2:43PM 87 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Stojkovic gets someone to help him tie his shoelaces. Cunning time-wasting tactic? Or cruel window into a life spent never learning to tie shoelaces? Only he really knows. 2:41PM 85 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica are now focusing most of their play down the right, targeting Kolarov. Nothing's coming off at the moment now, they're running out of ideas. 2:39PM 82 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell's been lively since coming on but you can kind of tell he's not played much recently. A half yard off the pace on the ball has given Serbia defenders opportunity to rob him of possession. Rukavina comes on for Tadic, which is almost certainly to give Ivanovic back-up at right-back. It might mean a 5-4-1 for Serbia. 2:36PM 80 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell tries to work space for a shot on the edge of the area but is blocked. M-Savic pulls off another beautiful bit of skill to take the ball round the outside of a midfielder and puts Serbia on the attack. They're starting to look a little tired now... 2:35PM 78 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: TASS Ooooh that should be 2-0. Tadic gets in behind on the right and squares the pass into the six yard box. Navas dives at it, gets a tiny flick on it and Kostic has a side foot to finish in an empty net. He gets it all wrong though and the net is unharmed. 2:32PM 76 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Colindres comes on for Guzman, which means Costa Rica have used all their substitutions up. Serbia fire some passes together and link well. M-Savic has the chance to shoot 25 yards out, takes the chance but balloons his effort way over the bar. 2:30PM 74 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell is in behind! There's a lucky deflection and Campbell gets ahead of Milenkovic but just isn't sharp enough to beat him to the ball and get a shot away. Corner. The goalie comes to get the cross but is nowhere near it. Like someone's thrown a scarecrow into the air at the ball. Serbia survive and Mitrovic shields the ball high up the pitch. 2:29PM 72 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica free-kick wide left... Campbell takes it and a Serbian head puts it clear. Kostic tries to break but the ball goes out of play, Serbia go back to their 4-4-1-1 shape and get behind the ball. 2:27PM 70 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell goes on a little dribble into the box but Ljajic puts in a great tackle and wins the ball. Costa Rica in a clear 3-4-3 now and making much snappier passes. Now Serbia are taking their turn to defend with blocks of four. Ljajic comes off for Kostic. 2:24PM 68 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Here comes Joel Campbell! Urena heads off. Look at the difference in possession now! Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:22PM 66 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES What a photo that is! The ball smashing into the back of the net from Kolarov's free-kick. Serbia have dropped really deep now they're 1-0 up... I wonder whether the best form of defence might actually be attacking Costa Rica more. They're inviting trouble like this. 2:20PM 64 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 1 - Kolarov has been the first Serbian player to score from direct free kick at the WC since Sinisa Mihajlovic v Iran on 14 June 1998 (including Yugoslavia). Southpaw. pic.twitter.com/yLePjJ0cmn— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 17, 2018 Costa Rica taking the game to Serbia now and Serbia are dropping further and further back. 2:18PM 62 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick in the final third but Serbia defend deep and head away. Costa Rica trying to get back into the game straight away. You're at your most vulnerable just after scoring goes the old saying. 2:16PM 60 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Serbia have the momentum now. Ljajic makes a run ahead of the defence and just can't get on the end of a chipped pass from Tadic. Will Costa Rica come out of their defensive shell now? 2:13PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! WHAT A HIT! KOLAVOC HAS SCORED! Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Aleksandar Kolarov, 56 min) Navas had absolutely no chance! It's a perfect free-kick, curled over the wall with power into the top corner. Goal: Serbia ( 56 min ) Unstoppable. 2:13PM 56 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win another free-kick in a dangerous area. Kolarov can shoot from here and seems to be lining one up. 2:12PM 55 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic gets a head on the ball as Duarte grabs hold of him in full view of the referee. Consistency in refereeing? There's not an awful lot of difference between that incident and the one yesterday that resulted in a penalty for Argentina. 2:11PM 54 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia enjoying more of the ball here. Kolarov curls a cross to the box and wins a corner as Calvo heads away at the back post. The referee has to sort out some pushing and pulling in the area. 2:09PM 52 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia are stretching the pitch and attacking through the middle more now. Although another cross from wide is collected from Navas. 2:08PM 50 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 HUGE MISS! Mitrovic breaks the offside trap, is one on one with Navas and his shot is terrible. Navas saves well but Mitrovic has to score there. What a massive moment that could prove to be. 2:07PM 49 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are on the right (light blue), Serbia the left (dark blue). 2:03PM 47 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic comes back to help out Ivanovic early on as Bryan Ruiz skins him on the left wing. No change of tactic here then. 2:02PM KICK-OFF 2 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica start the second half. We're back! 2:00PM Next up World Cup 2018 tactics: Why Germany's goalkeeper is key to how they attack Don't forget that after this game is Germany vs Mexico! You can join Alan Tyers in our liveblog coverage of that once this match is over. And not a moment sooner! Don't leave me. Please. 1:57PM Serbia's strikers Check the starting position of Milinkovic-Savic in possession. He's a central striker! Patrice Evra on him being linked with Man Utd: "You need to be a character, a personality. I'm afraid now you miss players playing for the passion. If you said 20 years ago Patrice you play for Manchester United and you don't even get paid, you do it." Doesn't really answer the question but I think I know what I mean. At least he hasn't literally applauded Aluko's football knowledge with this answer. 1:49PM Serbia's very attacking average positions That's a 2-4-4! Love it. Average touch positions (42 min) Look at the near-comical focus on one particular side of the pitch. Poor Ivanovic, he'll be knackered at the end of this. 1:47PM HALF TIME - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Thoroughly entertaining stuff there. Costa Rica targeting Ivanovic down the left and relying on quick counter-attacks, while Serbia have done well without really taking advantage of all their possession. Where there's Mitrovic there's a chance and Milinkovic-Savic has turned up in dangerous areas too. I can see a goal or two in the second half. 1:46PM 45 mins +1 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Borges should be booked for pulling Ljajic back just as he was about to get Serbia moving in the Costa Rica half... but Mitrovic is penalised for a tiny nudge on the back of Gonzalez. 1:44PM 44 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 MILINKOVIC-SAVIC BICYLE KICK! Saved by Navas! Wow. That would have been something else! Ivanovic chips into the box, the Lazio man goes for the spectacular, the linesman says he's offside. He isn't, so that goal would have counted if it had gone in. 1:42PM 42 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are enjoying the ball for a while. They've been on the back foot for quite a lot of the game so far, though this possession stat feels like it's way off. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia Calvo cuts inside from the left once more and tries a shot on his right foot... but drags it wide of the near post. Out: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Francisco Calvo, 42 min) 1:40PM 40 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ohhhh there's a slip in the Serbia defence by Tosic and it's given Costa Rica a chance to shoot. Urena takes it... but that's miles away. Calvo then wins a corner off Ivanovic, who isn't being given any peace. 1:37PM 38 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Both players appear OK to continue after a pause in play. What a collision that was though. Like a train battering into... another train. Or a Costa Rica defender. Anyway, they're alright. 1:35PM 36 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic wins a free-kick right in the corner. The big lads come up for the set piece, which Kolarov will whip in as in in-swinger. Navas Superman throws himself at it and punches away and then Tosic batters into Acosta while going for a header and both are in a lot of pain. 1:34PM 34 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ivanovic over-hits an early cross from wide right and puts it out for a goal kick. Costa Rica have been impressive with how they stop Serbia's build-up play. By blocking the passing option, Serbia don't really have anywhere to go other than long but are trying to keep the ball in defence until an opportunity to get forward opens up. 1:30PM 31 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are blocking the Serbian passing lanes with three forwards and two midfielders behind them, and it's forcing the defenders to really think about where they move the ball so as not to concede possession in a dangerous counter-attacking area. Once the ball is past the halfway line Costa Rica are a 5-4-1... Serbia need another option. And there it is - the chipped pass to Mitrovic. 1:28PM 29 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Bit chance! Super run off the ball by Milinkovic-Savic but he doesn't get the ball out of his feet as a pass over the top puts him through on goal. A low shot is saved easily by Navas but the offside flag had one anyway. He gets away with that miss. 1:26PM 27 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great take by Tadic. The pass is fired straight at him at pace and he controls and flicks the ball on to keep a move going. It just won't drop for Mitrovic in the area and his shot is blocked. 1:24PM 25 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: AFP Serbia are focusing their attacks through the middle then moving play out to the right wing once in the final third. Costa Rica survive another decent move but Serbia are back in possession. You can see they're favouring that right wing here: Serbia crosses Calvo is the left wing-back and is on a yellow card now too. 1:22PM 23 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica get in down the left again though and... that's a shocking tackle. He doesn't mean to go in as heavy as he does but Calvo is rightly booked for a late slide tackle near the corner on Tadic. That's the sort of challenge you put in for a laugh on Pro Evo. 1:21PM 21 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia switch the play a couple of times but Costa Rica look organised and shift over to deny the space and win possession back. Serbia are getting Tadic deeper with Matic helping out on the right now to make sure Ivanovic isn't exposed. 1:19PM 19 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win a free-kick about 35 yards from goal and this will be aimed towards Mitrovic. The referee has to tell Guzman to stand further back from the kick but doesn't book him. The ball goes in, is headed at the back post... and Costa Rica manage to get it away then drop into their low block. 1:16PM 17 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great save by Navas! Serbia have men over, Ivanovic overlaps down the right and dribbles past his man but Navas blocks the low cross into the area. Serbia might be in again! Tadic chips to the back post for Mitrovic but nobody is following up. Milinkovic-Savic has had a couple of lovely touches in the approach play to both those moves. 1:14PM 15 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic receives the ball on the edge of the box, moves it onto his right foot and shoots but the effort is blocked and Navas catches. Costa Rica attack down the left wing again - they're targeting Ivanovic at right-back. Serbia look ropey at the back here. A dreadful pass forward has nearly gifted Costa Rica the chance to break with an overload but the centre-backs just about to manage to see out the danger. 1:12PM 13 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 FREE HEADER! What a miss! Oh my word. A short corner, the second cross gives Gonzalez a completely free header. Dreadful defending from Serbia - what were they doing there? Total chaos in the second phase of that set piece and Costa Rica should be 1-0 up. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Giancarlo González, 12 min) Gonzalez can't believe he's put that miles over the bar. 1:11PM 11 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Costa Rica are looking to use their pace to take on the full-backs. Ivanovic and Kolarov aren't the young men they once were but still have a bit speed left in the legs - Costa Rica look like they might have the running of them though. Costa Rica win a corner. 1:09PM 9 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are quick and break with three forwards. It's not quite coming together for them in the final third for now but they've been able to run with the ball in Serbia's half a couple of times now. 1:07PM 7 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mitrovic is causing problems with his strength upfront and Serbia are looking for him with long throws and chipped passes. Serbia attack through the middle, the ball drops to Kolarov and he tries a shot from 30 yards but pings it wide of goal. 1:05PM 5 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia get up the pitch and win another corner. Both teams are attacking quickly and it's already entertaining. Serbia can't get space in the area thanks to the close attentions of the Costa Rica defence and Kolarov fouls Gamboa while trying to win the second ball from the corner. Costa Rica go long. 1:03PM 3 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 But now Costa Rica are in! Urena gets in behind the defence after a Ruiz pass puts him there and he wins a corner! Mitrovic is back defending now and powers a header away from goal. Calvo joins in down the left and hooks a swinging cross into the area and GONZALEZ IS THERE! But his header is straight at the goalkeeper! What a start this is! 1:01PM 2 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia start with the ball and Mitrovic gets a touch inside the area within 30 seconds. Corner. If he'd controlled that properly he was in for a shot from about 10 yards! The corner comes in and it's headed at goal! Navas looks frantic as he hops onto his other foot... but the referee has spotted a foul. The sign of things to come? 1:00PM KICK OFF Here we go! 12:55PM National anthems 12:54PM Here come the players! Costa Rica will be a 5-4-1 and try to keep things tight and take advantage of counter-attack situations while Serbia will be a 4-2-3-1. The wing-backs will get forward, the defence will be protected by Matic and Milivojevic and Milinkovic-Savic will support Mitrovic throughout. 12:47PM Evra's wearing a tin foil hat Paul Pogba's goal against Australia has been taken away from him. It's an own goal now (because it is...) and Evra has just said he wishes people would leave Paul alone. "If it was Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo I wonder if they would take that goal away," he says. Perhaps he's preparing some sort of speech about jet fuel and steel beams for half time. Patrice Evra showing surprise and actually *clapping* Eni Aluko’s analysis... awful, patronising— Omar Chaudhuri (@OmarChaudhuri) June 17, 2018 12:45PM The warm-ups Credit: GETTY IMAGES The players are just finishing their warm-ups and soon they'll be out on the pitch ready to put on a spectacle. Kolarov was holding his knee for a bit of it but I'm not sure if he's picked up a knock or something during his little pre-match routine. Now, if you'd like to get updates sent to your phone on Whatsapp, sign up for this thing we have here: World Cup whatsapp promo It keeps you up to date with all the news and scores from the games. 12:39PM Take care of the ball and the ball will take care of you Vladimir Stojkovic �� Serbia’s goalkeeper kisses the ball after every save he makes! #SRB#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/JEjD9gYCu8— Kay Murray (@KayLMurray) June 17, 2018 12:38PM Evra is impressed by a woman knowing football "Wow I'm really impressed, she knows more about the game than us," says Evra, in a somewhat* patronising way to Eni Aluko. Do your research pal. ITV have been pretty good at getting their pundits well read before going on air to be fair. Aluko has been explaining what makes Milinkovic-Savic such a threat, detailing his ability to play with the ball at feet but that he's also great at attacking and will support Mitrovic throughout today's game. *incredibly. 12:33PM The current and ex-pros' opinions "They're a strong defensive team but they don't score a lot of goals," says Eni Aluko of Costa Rica. Henrik Larsson and Patrice Evra make up the rest of ITV's pundits bench today. That's a strong lineup. 12:27PM Ivanovic becomes Serbia's all-time most capped player Credit: FIFA Today is his 104th cap, so assuming nothing changes before kick-off he will become the most capped player in the history of Serbia, surpassing Dejan Stankovic. But the real question is how tall is he compared to Mel from Mel and Sue? At 6 feet tall that makes him 1.something Mels from Mel and Sue. 12:24PM Inside the dressing rooms Credit: FIFA Credit: FIFA 12:22PM Our lovely new columnist Cesc Fabregas has joined our writing team for the World Cup and his first couple of columns are already up on the website. You can read his thoughts on Raheem Sterling here. Cesc Fabregas column: England's Raheem Sterling can deliver on the biggest stage 12:17PM Star players to look out for Keylor Navas is by far and away the best player on this Costa Rica team and according to my handy Football Manager database app (their database is used as a scouting tool by top level clubs around the world...), with an average rating of 81 he's way ahead of Borges and Campbell, both rated at 69. Bryan Ruiz shares the same rating... and then everything goes a bit south from there. Serbia meanwhile have some of the most highly rated young players in the world. Predrag Rajkovic is on the bench but at a base level 67 is expected to be about an 85 at some point in his career. I realise some of you might think I'm talking nonsense using a video game's database but their hit rate and accuracy is awesome. Matic - 78, Milinkovic-Savic -78, Adem Ljajic - 72, Aleksandar Kolarov -73... I think you get the idea. If Serbia can work their way around the Costa Rica low block and avoid making any particularly silly mistakes, they should really win this. 12:06PM Those teams in written form Costa Rica (3-5-2 / 5-4-1) Navas, Gamboa, Acosta, González, Duarte, Calvo, Venegas, Guzmán, Borges, Ruiz, Ureña Serbia (4-2-3-1) Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Tosic, Milenkovic, Kolarov, Milinkovic-Savic, Milivojevic, Matic, Ljajic, Tadic, Mitrovic Got to think Serbia are missing a trick leaving all the Football Manager wonderkids out. Zivkovic and Rajkovic on the bench? What is this - amateur hour? pic.twitter.com/LiPrSQumMX— JJ Bull (@jj_bull) June 17, 2018 12:00PM Starting lineups 10 'ic' and one Kolarov: Who's ready for the first match of the day? Here are the teams for #CRCSRB ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/np2DCvEQ78— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 17, 2018 11:59AM The best kits World Cup kits ranked 11:47AM Where is today's game? Well that would be the Samara Arena of course: World Cup 2018 stadium: Samara Arena And as we all know [looks down at phone] it is is the sixth largest city in Russia. This is what the stadium looks like.: Credit: FIFA And the inside is even cooler: Credit: REUTERS 11:40AM Welcome! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for Costa Rica vs Serbia, a match which should be really entertaining and one I'm looking forward to. Yesterday was another brilliant day of World Cup football notable for featuring several high profile VAR moments - it seems like having that extra help has really allowed referees to make some attack-minded decisions and goals make games great. So what to expect today? Serbia have the better (arguably - and I will argue it) group of players with several wonderkids supplemented by hardworking others. Nemanja Matic can run the midfield, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is one of the hottest prospects in football and Dusan Tadic is guaranteed to create chances to score. “As far as this story about me lacking experience, I don’t have any problem because I am working with professional players who prove themselves in clubs across Europe,” their manager Mladen Krstajic said. “My conscience is clear because we are working really well and have been together for three weeks. These are things that make me happy. “We have to be focused, responsible. When I met my squad for the first time I said let's relax, be friends off the pitch, but when comes to matches, everyone has to be responsible.” Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players In the red corner, Costa Rica aren't quite so strong but do have Keylor Navas in goal. You know, the Real Madrid guy. Yeh, him. Other than that, Arsenal's eternally nomadic loanee Joel Campbell is perhaps their best bet of getting a result with Celso Borges the most likely to set someone up for a goal. They didn't impress at all in defeat to England recently and were hammered by Belgium too - today is a massive test. Team news should be with us soon and I'll endeavour to bring you that as well as all the build-up and then analysis of the live action. Stick around to join in the fun.
Aleksandar Kolarov produced a ­moment of captain’s inspiration, curling home a superb free-kick as Serbia got their Group E campaign up and running on Sunday. The former Manchester City full-back had appeared to be injured in the warm-up but recovered to curl in the winner against Costa Rica. Serbia had dominated the match but chances were at a premium 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 lifted a weight from coach Mladen Krstajic, in what was his first competitive game. “There was a great deal of pressure on the team, and on me, over the past seven months,” said Krstajic, who took the job in October. Krstajic’s relief was matched in equal measure by the disappointment of Oscar Ramirez, the Costa Rica manager, whose side are now in a precarious position. “Maybe we have lost a certain margin for qualifying,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult, but our intention remains the same. I told the lads ‘This isn’t over’.” Aleksandar Kolarov struck a wonderful free-kick to win all three points for Serbia Credit: REUTERS If Costa Rica are going to recover, they will need to rediscover the defensive organisation and clinical counter-attacks that propelled them to the quarter-finals four years ago. Serbia found it hard to break them down, but they rarely looked troubled at the back and, barring a late half-chance for substitute Joel Campbell, they coasted through the game. The match began in furious ­fashion, with Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic having a header scooped off the line and Costa Rica’s Giancarlo Gonzalez failing to convert two headed chances. But it soon 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. Mitrovic failed to find the net with a good chance early in the second half, but it mattered little when Kolarov, the AS Roma left-back, produced his moment of magic, curling a free kick, left-footed, over the wall and past the despairing dive of Navas. “It is great to have three points, but we are not finished. I don’t want to do the maths yet,” Kolarov said. Match details Costa Rica (3-4-3): Navas (Real Madrid) 7; Gamboa (Celtic) 6, Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas) 6, Gonzalez (Bologna) 6; Duarte (Espanyol) 6, Calvo (Minnesota) 7, Venegas (Saprissa) 6, Guzman (Portland) 6; Borges (Coruna) 6, Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon) 6, Urena (Los Angeles) 5. Subs: Campbell (Arsenal) for Urena 73, Bolanos (Saprissa) for Venegas 60, Colindres (Saprissa) for Guzman 73. Booked: Guzman, Calvo. Serbia (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic (Partizan) 6; Ivanovic (Zenit) 6, Tosic (Besiktas) 6, Milenkovic (Fiorentina) 6, Kolarov (Roma) 7; Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) 8, Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) 6; Matic (Man Utd) 6, Ljajic (Torino) 7, Tadic (Southampton) 6; Mitrovic (Newcastle) 6. Subs: Kostic (Hamburg) for Ljajic 70, Rukavina (Villarreal) for Tadic 83, Prijovic (PAOK) for Mitrovic 90. Booked: Prijovic. Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal). 3:08PM Some full-time stats for you After losing five consecutive World Cup games between 1998 and 2010, Serbia have since won two of their last three in the competition (L1). Serbia have won their opening game at a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1998, when they did so as Yugoslavia against Iran (1-0). Serbia have now won all four of their World Cup games against teams from the CONCACAF region, with the first three of those coming as Yugoslavia between 1950 and 1998. Costa Rica suffered their first defeat at the World Cup since 2006 (1-2 v Poland), ending a run of five games unbeaten in the competition (W2 D3). And my favourite of all: Aleksandar Kolarov’s goal for Serbia was the third direct free-kick scored at this year’s World Cup (after Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo), which is already as many as there were in the entire 2014 tournament in Brazil. 3:05PM Next up It's Germany vs Mexico! Join Alan Tyers in our World Cup liveblog as he brings you the team news, updates and analysis from the match. 3:05PM The referee separating the players Credit: GETTY IMAGES This is that little rammy towards the end when Matic went nuts. It looks like the Costa Rica nine, Colindres, puts a full on slap on a Serbia player. Could be a red card, might not. I'd argue that the players are just getting fired up late on - if it had been earlier in the game then it would have been in the ref's interests to sort things out further. 3:02PM Who stood out there then? Let's do some player ratings. Costa Rica (3-4-3 / 5-4-1) Navas 7, Gamboa 6, Acosta 6, González 6, Duarte 6, Calvo 7, Venegas 6, Guzmán 6, Borges 6, Ruiz 6, Ureña 5 Serbia (4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2) Stojkovic 6, Ivanovic 6, Tosic 6, Milenkovic 6, Kolarov 7, Milinkovic-Savic 8, Milivojevic 6, Matic 6, Ljajic 6, Tadic 7, Mitrovic 5 2:58PM Analysis Average touch positions (full time) A game of one half. Specifically the right for Serbia and left for Costa Rica. Passes kept going down the one side of the pitch. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:55PM FULL TIME Credit: AFP And that's it! Serbia get a deserved win against a spirited Costa Rica. Kolarov's free-kick was a thing of wonder and has won the points. 2:54PM 90 mins +7 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 More controversy here. Prijovic has caught someone off the ball with his forearm and Acosta throws himself to the floor. Is this a red card? The VAR is in use! Aaaaand it's a yellow card. Another good decision (IMO). 2:52PM 90 mins +5 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 VAR time! The referee is reviewing that decision! He wants to see if Matic should be in more trouble... but the VAR says no. Seems fair. Costa Rica keep coming... the ball is hooked in, headed down IT'S A CHANCE FOR BOLANOS! And he's missed from six yards! Thankfully, the linesman calls offside and he is miles ahead of the last man. What a miss though. Dreadful finish. 2:50PM 90 mins +4 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 That's poor from the substitute Rukavina. He loses possession then doesn't try to win it back but now Serbia are on the counter-attack, with men over! And the ball's been lost. And now Matic is involved with the bench! He's getting all fired up needlessly with the Costa Rica staff. 2:49PM 90 mins +3 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick 40 yards out, hit it in the area and it;s headed away. Gamboa goes for a distance wondergoal but his long range effort is saved by the goalkeeper easily. 2:47PM 90 mins +1 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 M-Savic has had a superb game. His timing of pass and movement off the ball is excellent. Serbia take Mitrovic off for Prijovic. Serbia come forward again - they have men over! Kostic spots the chance to shoot but blasts over the bar. So many players have been jumping their shots miles over. Practise required. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Filip Kostic, 90 min) 2:45PM 89 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 MITROVIC IS IN AGAIN! And he's wasted the chance again! Oh my word. He's so very nearly a great player - gets in the right positions, is strong but his finishing isn't all that. And here he gets into the box, slows down to wait for the ball to roll ahead of his body and the Costa Rica defender goes down. Mitrovic goes down too but I suspect that's more a problem of balance than an actual foul. No VAR for this incident. 2:43PM 87 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Stojkovic gets someone to help him tie his shoelaces. Cunning time-wasting tactic? Or cruel window into a life spent never learning to tie shoelaces? Only he really knows. 2:41PM 85 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica are now focusing most of their play down the right, targeting Kolarov. Nothing's coming off at the moment now, they're running out of ideas. 2:39PM 82 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell's been lively since coming on but you can kind of tell he's not played much recently. A half yard off the pace on the ball has given Serbia defenders opportunity to rob him of possession. Rukavina comes on for Tadic, which is almost certainly to give Ivanovic back-up at right-back. It might mean a 5-4-1 for Serbia. 2:36PM 80 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell tries to work space for a shot on the edge of the area but is blocked. M-Savic pulls off another beautiful bit of skill to take the ball round the outside of a midfielder and puts Serbia on the attack. They're starting to look a little tired now... 2:35PM 78 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: TASS Ooooh that should be 2-0. Tadic gets in behind on the right and squares the pass into the six yard box. Navas dives at it, gets a tiny flick on it and Kostic has a side foot to finish in an empty net. He gets it all wrong though and the net is unharmed. 2:32PM 76 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Colindres comes on for Guzman, which means Costa Rica have used all their substitutions up. Serbia fire some passes together and link well. M-Savic has the chance to shoot 25 yards out, takes the chance but balloons his effort way over the bar. 2:30PM 74 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell is in behind! There's a lucky deflection and Campbell gets ahead of Milenkovic but just isn't sharp enough to beat him to the ball and get a shot away. Corner. The goalie comes to get the cross but is nowhere near it. Like someone's thrown a scarecrow into the air at the ball. Serbia survive and Mitrovic shields the ball high up the pitch. 2:29PM 72 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica free-kick wide left... Campbell takes it and a Serbian head puts it clear. Kostic tries to break but the ball goes out of play, Serbia go back to their 4-4-1-1 shape and get behind the ball. 2:27PM 70 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell goes on a little dribble into the box but Ljajic puts in a great tackle and wins the ball. Costa Rica in a clear 3-4-3 now and making much snappier passes. Now Serbia are taking their turn to defend with blocks of four. Ljajic comes off for Kostic. 2:24PM 68 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Here comes Joel Campbell! Urena heads off. Look at the difference in possession now! Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:22PM 66 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES What a photo that is! The ball smashing into the back of the net from Kolarov's free-kick. Serbia have dropped really deep now they're 1-0 up... I wonder whether the best form of defence might actually be attacking Costa Rica more. They're inviting trouble like this. 2:20PM 64 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 1 - Kolarov has been the first Serbian player to score from direct free kick at the WC since Sinisa Mihajlovic v Iran on 14 June 1998 (including Yugoslavia). Southpaw. pic.twitter.com/yLePjJ0cmn— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 17, 2018 Costa Rica taking the game to Serbia now and Serbia are dropping further and further back. 2:18PM 62 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick in the final third but Serbia defend deep and head away. Costa Rica trying to get back into the game straight away. You're at your most vulnerable just after scoring goes the old saying. 2:16PM 60 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Serbia have the momentum now. Ljajic makes a run ahead of the defence and just can't get on the end of a chipped pass from Tadic. Will Costa Rica come out of their defensive shell now? 2:13PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! WHAT A HIT! KOLAVOC HAS SCORED! Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Aleksandar Kolarov, 56 min) Navas had absolutely no chance! It's a perfect free-kick, curled over the wall with power into the top corner. Goal: Serbia ( 56 min ) Unstoppable. 2:13PM 56 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win another free-kick in a dangerous area. Kolarov can shoot from here and seems to be lining one up. 2:12PM 55 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic gets a head on the ball as Duarte grabs hold of him in full view of the referee. Consistency in refereeing? There's not an awful lot of difference between that incident and the one yesterday that resulted in a penalty for Argentina. 2:11PM 54 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia enjoying more of the ball here. Kolarov curls a cross to the box and wins a corner as Calvo heads away at the back post. The referee has to sort out some pushing and pulling in the area. 2:09PM 52 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia are stretching the pitch and attacking through the middle more now. Although another cross from wide is collected from Navas. 2:08PM 50 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 HUGE MISS! Mitrovic breaks the offside trap, is one on one with Navas and his shot is terrible. Navas saves well but Mitrovic has to score there. What a massive moment that could prove to be. 2:07PM 49 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are on the right (light blue), Serbia the left (dark blue). 2:03PM 47 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic comes back to help out Ivanovic early on as Bryan Ruiz skins him on the left wing. No change of tactic here then. 2:02PM KICK-OFF 2 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica start the second half. We're back! 2:00PM Next up World Cup 2018 tactics: Why Germany's goalkeeper is key to how they attack Don't forget that after this game is Germany vs Mexico! You can join Alan Tyers in our liveblog coverage of that once this match is over. And not a moment sooner! Don't leave me. Please. 1:57PM Serbia's strikers Check the starting position of Milinkovic-Savic in possession. He's a central striker! Patrice Evra on him being linked with Man Utd: "You need to be a character, a personality. I'm afraid now you miss players playing for the passion. If you said 20 years ago Patrice you play for Manchester United and you don't even get paid, you do it." Doesn't really answer the question but I think I know what I mean. At least he hasn't literally applauded Aluko's football knowledge with this answer. 1:49PM Serbia's very attacking average positions That's a 2-4-4! Love it. Average touch positions (42 min) Look at the near-comical focus on one particular side of the pitch. Poor Ivanovic, he'll be knackered at the end of this. 1:47PM HALF TIME - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Thoroughly entertaining stuff there. Costa Rica targeting Ivanovic down the left and relying on quick counter-attacks, while Serbia have done well without really taking advantage of all their possession. Where there's Mitrovic there's a chance and Milinkovic-Savic has turned up in dangerous areas too. I can see a goal or two in the second half. 1:46PM 45 mins +1 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Borges should be booked for pulling Ljajic back just as he was about to get Serbia moving in the Costa Rica half... but Mitrovic is penalised for a tiny nudge on the back of Gonzalez. 1:44PM 44 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 MILINKOVIC-SAVIC BICYLE KICK! Saved by Navas! Wow. That would have been something else! Ivanovic chips into the box, the Lazio man goes for the spectacular, the linesman says he's offside. He isn't, so that goal would have counted if it had gone in. 1:42PM 42 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are enjoying the ball for a while. They've been on the back foot for quite a lot of the game so far, though this possession stat feels like it's way off. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia Calvo cuts inside from the left once more and tries a shot on his right foot... but drags it wide of the near post. Out: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Francisco Calvo, 42 min) 1:40PM 40 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ohhhh there's a slip in the Serbia defence by Tosic and it's given Costa Rica a chance to shoot. Urena takes it... but that's miles away. Calvo then wins a corner off Ivanovic, who isn't being given any peace. 1:37PM 38 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Both players appear OK to continue after a pause in play. What a collision that was though. Like a train battering into... another train. Or a Costa Rica defender. Anyway, they're alright. 1:35PM 36 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic wins a free-kick right in the corner. The big lads come up for the set piece, which Kolarov will whip in as in in-swinger. Navas Superman throws himself at it and punches away and then Tosic batters into Acosta while going for a header and both are in a lot of pain. 1:34PM 34 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ivanovic over-hits an early cross from wide right and puts it out for a goal kick. Costa Rica have been impressive with how they stop Serbia's build-up play. By blocking the passing option, Serbia don't really have anywhere to go other than long but are trying to keep the ball in defence until an opportunity to get forward opens up. 1:30PM 31 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are blocking the Serbian passing lanes with three forwards and two midfielders behind them, and it's forcing the defenders to really think about where they move the ball so as not to concede possession in a dangerous counter-attacking area. Once the ball is past the halfway line Costa Rica are a 5-4-1... Serbia need another option. And there it is - the chipped pass to Mitrovic. 1:28PM 29 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Bit chance! Super run off the ball by Milinkovic-Savic but he doesn't get the ball out of his feet as a pass over the top puts him through on goal. A low shot is saved easily by Navas but the offside flag had one anyway. He gets away with that miss. 1:26PM 27 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great take by Tadic. The pass is fired straight at him at pace and he controls and flicks the ball on to keep a move going. It just won't drop for Mitrovic in the area and his shot is blocked. 1:24PM 25 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: AFP Serbia are focusing their attacks through the middle then moving play out to the right wing once in the final third. Costa Rica survive another decent move but Serbia are back in possession. You can see they're favouring that right wing here: Serbia crosses Calvo is the left wing-back and is on a yellow card now too. 1:22PM 23 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica get in down the left again though and... that's a shocking tackle. He doesn't mean to go in as heavy as he does but Calvo is rightly booked for a late slide tackle near the corner on Tadic. That's the sort of challenge you put in for a laugh on Pro Evo. 1:21PM 21 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia switch the play a couple of times but Costa Rica look organised and shift over to deny the space and win possession back. Serbia are getting Tadic deeper with Matic helping out on the right now to make sure Ivanovic isn't exposed. 1:19PM 19 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win a free-kick about 35 yards from goal and this will be aimed towards Mitrovic. The referee has to tell Guzman to stand further back from the kick but doesn't book him. The ball goes in, is headed at the back post... and Costa Rica manage to get it away then drop into their low block. 1:16PM 17 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great save by Navas! Serbia have men over, Ivanovic overlaps down the right and dribbles past his man but Navas blocks the low cross into the area. Serbia might be in again! Tadic chips to the back post for Mitrovic but nobody is following up. Milinkovic-Savic has had a couple of lovely touches in the approach play to both those moves. 1:14PM 15 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic receives the ball on the edge of the box, moves it onto his right foot and shoots but the effort is blocked and Navas catches. Costa Rica attack down the left wing again - they're targeting Ivanovic at right-back. Serbia look ropey at the back here. A dreadful pass forward has nearly gifted Costa Rica the chance to break with an overload but the centre-backs just about to manage to see out the danger. 1:12PM 13 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 FREE HEADER! What a miss! Oh my word. A short corner, the second cross gives Gonzalez a completely free header. Dreadful defending from Serbia - what were they doing there? Total chaos in the second phase of that set piece and Costa Rica should be 1-0 up. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Giancarlo González, 12 min) Gonzalez can't believe he's put that miles over the bar. 1:11PM 11 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Costa Rica are looking to use their pace to take on the full-backs. Ivanovic and Kolarov aren't the young men they once were but still have a bit speed left in the legs - Costa Rica look like they might have the running of them though. Costa Rica win a corner. 1:09PM 9 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are quick and break with three forwards. It's not quite coming together for them in the final third for now but they've been able to run with the ball in Serbia's half a couple of times now. 1:07PM 7 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mitrovic is causing problems with his strength upfront and Serbia are looking for him with long throws and chipped passes. Serbia attack through the middle, the ball drops to Kolarov and he tries a shot from 30 yards but pings it wide of goal. 1:05PM 5 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia get up the pitch and win another corner. Both teams are attacking quickly and it's already entertaining. Serbia can't get space in the area thanks to the close attentions of the Costa Rica defence and Kolarov fouls Gamboa while trying to win the second ball from the corner. Costa Rica go long. 1:03PM 3 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 But now Costa Rica are in! Urena gets in behind the defence after a Ruiz pass puts him there and he wins a corner! Mitrovic is back defending now and powers a header away from goal. Calvo joins in down the left and hooks a swinging cross into the area and GONZALEZ IS THERE! But his header is straight at the goalkeeper! What a start this is! 1:01PM 2 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia start with the ball and Mitrovic gets a touch inside the area within 30 seconds. Corner. If he'd controlled that properly he was in for a shot from about 10 yards! The corner comes in and it's headed at goal! Navas looks frantic as he hops onto his other foot... but the referee has spotted a foul. The sign of things to come? 1:00PM KICK OFF Here we go! 12:55PM National anthems 12:54PM Here come the players! Costa Rica will be a 5-4-1 and try to keep things tight and take advantage of counter-attack situations while Serbia will be a 4-2-3-1. The wing-backs will get forward, the defence will be protected by Matic and Milivojevic and Milinkovic-Savic will support Mitrovic throughout. 12:47PM Evra's wearing a tin foil hat Paul Pogba's goal against Australia has been taken away from him. It's an own goal now (because it is...) and Evra has just said he wishes people would leave Paul alone. "If it was Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo I wonder if they would take that goal away," he says. Perhaps he's preparing some sort of speech about jet fuel and steel beams for half time. Patrice Evra showing surprise and actually *clapping* Eni Aluko’s analysis... awful, patronising— Omar Chaudhuri (@OmarChaudhuri) June 17, 2018 12:45PM The warm-ups Credit: GETTY IMAGES The players are just finishing their warm-ups and soon they'll be out on the pitch ready to put on a spectacle. Kolarov was holding his knee for a bit of it but I'm not sure if he's picked up a knock or something during his little pre-match routine. Now, if you'd like to get updates sent to your phone on Whatsapp, sign up for this thing we have here: World Cup whatsapp promo It keeps you up to date with all the news and scores from the games. 12:39PM Take care of the ball and the ball will take care of you Vladimir Stojkovic �� Serbia’s goalkeeper kisses the ball after every save he makes! #SRB#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/JEjD9gYCu8— Kay Murray (@KayLMurray) June 17, 2018 12:38PM Evra is impressed by a woman knowing football "Wow I'm really impressed, she knows more about the game than us," says Evra, in a somewhat* patronising way to Eni Aluko. Do your research pal. ITV have been pretty good at getting their pundits well read before going on air to be fair. Aluko has been explaining what makes Milinkovic-Savic such a threat, detailing his ability to play with the ball at feet but that he's also great at attacking and will support Mitrovic throughout today's game. *incredibly. 12:33PM The current and ex-pros' opinions "They're a strong defensive team but they don't score a lot of goals," says Eni Aluko of Costa Rica. Henrik Larsson and Patrice Evra make up the rest of ITV's pundits bench today. That's a strong lineup. 12:27PM Ivanovic becomes Serbia's all-time most capped player Credit: FIFA Today is his 104th cap, so assuming nothing changes before kick-off he will become the most capped player in the history of Serbia, surpassing Dejan Stankovic. But the real question is how tall is he compared to Mel from Mel and Sue? At 6 feet tall that makes him 1.something Mels from Mel and Sue. 12:24PM Inside the dressing rooms Credit: FIFA Credit: FIFA 12:22PM Our lovely new columnist Cesc Fabregas has joined our writing team for the World Cup and his first couple of columns are already up on the website. You can read his thoughts on Raheem Sterling here. Cesc Fabregas column: England's Raheem Sterling can deliver on the biggest stage 12:17PM Star players to look out for Keylor Navas is by far and away the best player on this Costa Rica team and according to my handy Football Manager database app (their database is used as a scouting tool by top level clubs around the world...), with an average rating of 81 he's way ahead of Borges and Campbell, both rated at 69. Bryan Ruiz shares the same rating... and then everything goes a bit south from there. Serbia meanwhile have some of the most highly rated young players in the world. Predrag Rajkovic is on the bench but at a base level 67 is expected to be about an 85 at some point in his career. I realise some of you might think I'm talking nonsense using a video game's database but their hit rate and accuracy is awesome. Matic - 78, Milinkovic-Savic -78, Adem Ljajic - 72, Aleksandar Kolarov -73... I think you get the idea. If Serbia can work their way around the Costa Rica low block and avoid making any particularly silly mistakes, they should really win this. 12:06PM Those teams in written form Costa Rica (3-5-2 / 5-4-1) Navas, Gamboa, Acosta, González, Duarte, Calvo, Venegas, Guzmán, Borges, Ruiz, Ureña Serbia (4-2-3-1) Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Tosic, Milenkovic, Kolarov, Milinkovic-Savic, Milivojevic, Matic, Ljajic, Tadic, Mitrovic Got to think Serbia are missing a trick leaving all the Football Manager wonderkids out. Zivkovic and Rajkovic on the bench? What is this - amateur hour? pic.twitter.com/LiPrSQumMX— JJ Bull (@jj_bull) June 17, 2018 12:00PM Starting lineups 10 'ic' and one Kolarov: Who's ready for the first match of the day? Here are the teams for #CRCSRB ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/np2DCvEQ78— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 17, 2018 11:59AM The best kits World Cup kits ranked 11:47AM Where is today's game? Well that would be the Samara Arena of course: World Cup 2018 stadium: Samara Arena And as we all know [looks down at phone] it is is the sixth largest city in Russia. This is what the stadium looks like.: Credit: FIFA And the inside is even cooler: Credit: REUTERS 11:40AM Welcome! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for Costa Rica vs Serbia, a match which should be really entertaining and one I'm looking forward to. Yesterday was another brilliant day of World Cup football notable for featuring several high profile VAR moments - it seems like having that extra help has really allowed referees to make some attack-minded decisions and goals make games great. So what to expect today? Serbia have the better (arguably - and I will argue it) group of players with several wonderkids supplemented by hardworking others. Nemanja Matic can run the midfield, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is one of the hottest prospects in football and Dusan Tadic is guaranteed to create chances to score. “As far as this story about me lacking experience, I don’t have any problem because I am working with professional players who prove themselves in clubs across Europe,” their manager Mladen Krstajic said. “My conscience is clear because we are working really well and have been together for three weeks. These are things that make me happy. “We have to be focused, responsible. When I met my squad for the first time I said let's relax, be friends off the pitch, but when comes to matches, everyone has to be responsible.” Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players In the red corner, Costa Rica aren't quite so strong but do have Keylor Navas in goal. You know, the Real Madrid guy. Yeh, him. Other than that, Arsenal's eternally nomadic loanee Joel Campbell is perhaps their best bet of getting a result with Celso Borges the most likely to set someone up for a goal. They didn't impress at all in defeat to England recently and were hammered by Belgium too - today is a massive test. Team news should be with us soon and I'll endeavour to bring you that as well as all the build-up and then analysis of the live action. Stick around to join in the fun.
Aleksandar Kolarov scores sensational free-kick as Serbia claim hard-fought World Cup 2018 win against Costa Rica
Aleksandar Kolarov produced a ­moment of captain’s inspiration, curling home a superb free-kick as Serbia got their Group E campaign up and running on Sunday. The former Manchester City full-back had appeared to be injured in the warm-up but recovered to curl in the winner against Costa Rica. Serbia had dominated the match but chances were at a premium 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 lifted a weight from coach Mladen Krstajic, in what was his first competitive game. “There was a great deal of pressure on the team, and on me, over the past seven months,” said Krstajic, who took the job in October. Krstajic’s relief was matched in equal measure by the disappointment of Oscar Ramirez, the Costa Rica manager, whose side are now in a precarious position. “Maybe we have lost a certain margin for qualifying,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult, but our intention remains the same. I told the lads ‘This isn’t over’.” Aleksandar Kolarov struck a wonderful free-kick to win all three points for Serbia Credit: REUTERS If Costa Rica are going to recover, they will need to rediscover the defensive organisation and clinical counter-attacks that propelled them to the quarter-finals four years ago. Serbia found it hard to break them down, but they rarely looked troubled at the back and, barring a late half-chance for substitute Joel Campbell, they coasted through the game. The match began in furious ­fashion, with Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic having a header scooped off the line and Costa Rica’s Giancarlo Gonzalez failing to convert two headed chances. But it soon 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. Mitrovic failed to find the net with a good chance early in the second half, but it mattered little when Kolarov, the AS Roma left-back, produced his moment of magic, curling a free kick, left-footed, over the wall and past the despairing dive of Navas. “It is great to have three points, but we are not finished. I don’t want to do the maths yet,” Kolarov said. Match details Costa Rica (3-4-3): Navas (Real Madrid) 7; Gamboa (Celtic) 6, Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas) 6, Gonzalez (Bologna) 6; Duarte (Espanyol) 6, Calvo (Minnesota) 7, Venegas (Saprissa) 6, Guzman (Portland) 6; Borges (Coruna) 6, Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon) 6, Urena (Los Angeles) 5. Subs: Campbell (Arsenal) for Urena 73, Bolanos (Saprissa) for Venegas 60, Colindres (Saprissa) for Guzman 73. Booked: Guzman, Calvo. Serbia (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic (Partizan) 6; Ivanovic (Zenit) 6, Tosic (Besiktas) 6, Milenkovic (Fiorentina) 6, Kolarov (Roma) 7; Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) 8, Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) 6; Matic (Man Utd) 6, Ljajic (Torino) 7, Tadic (Southampton) 6; Mitrovic (Newcastle) 6. Subs: Kostic (Hamburg) for Ljajic 70, Rukavina (Villarreal) for Tadic 83, Prijovic (PAOK) for Mitrovic 90. Booked: Prijovic. Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal). 3:08PM Some full-time stats for you After losing five consecutive World Cup games between 1998 and 2010, Serbia have since won two of their last three in the competition (L1). Serbia have won their opening game at a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1998, when they did so as Yugoslavia against Iran (1-0). Serbia have now won all four of their World Cup games against teams from the CONCACAF region, with the first three of those coming as Yugoslavia between 1950 and 1998. Costa Rica suffered their first defeat at the World Cup since 2006 (1-2 v Poland), ending a run of five games unbeaten in the competition (W2 D3). And my favourite of all: Aleksandar Kolarov’s goal for Serbia was the third direct free-kick scored at this year’s World Cup (after Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo), which is already as many as there were in the entire 2014 tournament in Brazil. 3:05PM Next up It's Germany vs Mexico! Join Alan Tyers in our World Cup liveblog as he brings you the team news, updates and analysis from the match. 3:05PM The referee separating the players Credit: GETTY IMAGES This is that little rammy towards the end when Matic went nuts. It looks like the Costa Rica nine, Colindres, puts a full on slap on a Serbia player. Could be a red card, might not. I'd argue that the players are just getting fired up late on - if it had been earlier in the game then it would have been in the ref's interests to sort things out further. 3:02PM Who stood out there then? Let's do some player ratings. Costa Rica (3-4-3 / 5-4-1) Navas 7, Gamboa 6, Acosta 6, González 6, Duarte 6, Calvo 7, Venegas 6, Guzmán 6, Borges 6, Ruiz 6, Ureña 5 Serbia (4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2) Stojkovic 6, Ivanovic 6, Tosic 6, Milenkovic 6, Kolarov 7, Milinkovic-Savic 8, Milivojevic 6, Matic 6, Ljajic 6, Tadic 7, Mitrovic 5 2:58PM Analysis Average touch positions (full time) A game of one half. Specifically the right for Serbia and left for Costa Rica. Passes kept going down the one side of the pitch. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:55PM FULL TIME Credit: AFP And that's it! Serbia get a deserved win against a spirited Costa Rica. Kolarov's free-kick was a thing of wonder and has won the points. 2:54PM 90 mins +7 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 More controversy here. Prijovic has caught someone off the ball with his forearm and Acosta throws himself to the floor. Is this a red card? The VAR is in use! Aaaaand it's a yellow card. Another good decision (IMO). 2:52PM 90 mins +5 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 VAR time! The referee is reviewing that decision! He wants to see if Matic should be in more trouble... but the VAR says no. Seems fair. Costa Rica keep coming... the ball is hooked in, headed down IT'S A CHANCE FOR BOLANOS! And he's missed from six yards! Thankfully, the linesman calls offside and he is miles ahead of the last man. What a miss though. Dreadful finish. 2:50PM 90 mins +4 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 That's poor from the substitute Rukavina. He loses possession then doesn't try to win it back but now Serbia are on the counter-attack, with men over! And the ball's been lost. And now Matic is involved with the bench! He's getting all fired up needlessly with the Costa Rica staff. 2:49PM 90 mins +3 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick 40 yards out, hit it in the area and it;s headed away. Gamboa goes for a distance wondergoal but his long range effort is saved by the goalkeeper easily. 2:47PM 90 mins +1 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 M-Savic has had a superb game. His timing of pass and movement off the ball is excellent. Serbia take Mitrovic off for Prijovic. Serbia come forward again - they have men over! Kostic spots the chance to shoot but blasts over the bar. So many players have been jumping their shots miles over. Practise required. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Filip Kostic, 90 min) 2:45PM 89 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 MITROVIC IS IN AGAIN! And he's wasted the chance again! Oh my word. He's so very nearly a great player - gets in the right positions, is strong but his finishing isn't all that. And here he gets into the box, slows down to wait for the ball to roll ahead of his body and the Costa Rica defender goes down. Mitrovic goes down too but I suspect that's more a problem of balance than an actual foul. No VAR for this incident. 2:43PM 87 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Stojkovic gets someone to help him tie his shoelaces. Cunning time-wasting tactic? Or cruel window into a life spent never learning to tie shoelaces? Only he really knows. 2:41PM 85 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica are now focusing most of their play down the right, targeting Kolarov. Nothing's coming off at the moment now, they're running out of ideas. 2:39PM 82 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell's been lively since coming on but you can kind of tell he's not played much recently. A half yard off the pace on the ball has given Serbia defenders opportunity to rob him of possession. Rukavina comes on for Tadic, which is almost certainly to give Ivanovic back-up at right-back. It might mean a 5-4-1 for Serbia. 2:36PM 80 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell tries to work space for a shot on the edge of the area but is blocked. M-Savic pulls off another beautiful bit of skill to take the ball round the outside of a midfielder and puts Serbia on the attack. They're starting to look a little tired now... 2:35PM 78 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: TASS Ooooh that should be 2-0. Tadic gets in behind on the right and squares the pass into the six yard box. Navas dives at it, gets a tiny flick on it and Kostic has a side foot to finish in an empty net. He gets it all wrong though and the net is unharmed. 2:32PM 76 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Colindres comes on for Guzman, which means Costa Rica have used all their substitutions up. Serbia fire some passes together and link well. M-Savic has the chance to shoot 25 yards out, takes the chance but balloons his effort way over the bar. 2:30PM 74 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell is in behind! There's a lucky deflection and Campbell gets ahead of Milenkovic but just isn't sharp enough to beat him to the ball and get a shot away. Corner. The goalie comes to get the cross but is nowhere near it. Like someone's thrown a scarecrow into the air at the ball. Serbia survive and Mitrovic shields the ball high up the pitch. 2:29PM 72 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica free-kick wide left... Campbell takes it and a Serbian head puts it clear. Kostic tries to break but the ball goes out of play, Serbia go back to their 4-4-1-1 shape and get behind the ball. 2:27PM 70 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell goes on a little dribble into the box but Ljajic puts in a great tackle and wins the ball. Costa Rica in a clear 3-4-3 now and making much snappier passes. Now Serbia are taking their turn to defend with blocks of four. Ljajic comes off for Kostic. 2:24PM 68 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Here comes Joel Campbell! Urena heads off. Look at the difference in possession now! Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:22PM 66 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES What a photo that is! The ball smashing into the back of the net from Kolarov's free-kick. Serbia have dropped really deep now they're 1-0 up... I wonder whether the best form of defence might actually be attacking Costa Rica more. They're inviting trouble like this. 2:20PM 64 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 1 - Kolarov has been the first Serbian player to score from direct free kick at the WC since Sinisa Mihajlovic v Iran on 14 June 1998 (including Yugoslavia). Southpaw. pic.twitter.com/yLePjJ0cmn— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 17, 2018 Costa Rica taking the game to Serbia now and Serbia are dropping further and further back. 2:18PM 62 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick in the final third but Serbia defend deep and head away. Costa Rica trying to get back into the game straight away. You're at your most vulnerable just after scoring goes the old saying. 2:16PM 60 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Serbia have the momentum now. Ljajic makes a run ahead of the defence and just can't get on the end of a chipped pass from Tadic. Will Costa Rica come out of their defensive shell now? 2:13PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! WHAT A HIT! KOLAVOC HAS SCORED! Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Aleksandar Kolarov, 56 min) Navas had absolutely no chance! It's a perfect free-kick, curled over the wall with power into the top corner. Goal: Serbia ( 56 min ) Unstoppable. 2:13PM 56 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win another free-kick in a dangerous area. Kolarov can shoot from here and seems to be lining one up. 2:12PM 55 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic gets a head on the ball as Duarte grabs hold of him in full view of the referee. Consistency in refereeing? There's not an awful lot of difference between that incident and the one yesterday that resulted in a penalty for Argentina. 2:11PM 54 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia enjoying more of the ball here. Kolarov curls a cross to the box and wins a corner as Calvo heads away at the back post. The referee has to sort out some pushing and pulling in the area. 2:09PM 52 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia are stretching the pitch and attacking through the middle more now. Although another cross from wide is collected from Navas. 2:08PM 50 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 HUGE MISS! Mitrovic breaks the offside trap, is one on one with Navas and his shot is terrible. Navas saves well but Mitrovic has to score there. What a massive moment that could prove to be. 2:07PM 49 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are on the right (light blue), Serbia the left (dark blue). 2:03PM 47 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic comes back to help out Ivanovic early on as Bryan Ruiz skins him on the left wing. No change of tactic here then. 2:02PM KICK-OFF 2 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica start the second half. We're back! 2:00PM Next up World Cup 2018 tactics: Why Germany's goalkeeper is key to how they attack Don't forget that after this game is Germany vs Mexico! You can join Alan Tyers in our liveblog coverage of that once this match is over. And not a moment sooner! Don't leave me. Please. 1:57PM Serbia's strikers Check the starting position of Milinkovic-Savic in possession. He's a central striker! Patrice Evra on him being linked with Man Utd: "You need to be a character, a personality. I'm afraid now you miss players playing for the passion. If you said 20 years ago Patrice you play for Manchester United and you don't even get paid, you do it." Doesn't really answer the question but I think I know what I mean. At least he hasn't literally applauded Aluko's football knowledge with this answer. 1:49PM Serbia's very attacking average positions That's a 2-4-4! Love it. Average touch positions (42 min) Look at the near-comical focus on one particular side of the pitch. Poor Ivanovic, he'll be knackered at the end of this. 1:47PM HALF TIME - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Thoroughly entertaining stuff there. Costa Rica targeting Ivanovic down the left and relying on quick counter-attacks, while Serbia have done well without really taking advantage of all their possession. Where there's Mitrovic there's a chance and Milinkovic-Savic has turned up in dangerous areas too. I can see a goal or two in the second half. 1:46PM 45 mins +1 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Borges should be booked for pulling Ljajic back just as he was about to get Serbia moving in the Costa Rica half... but Mitrovic is penalised for a tiny nudge on the back of Gonzalez. 1:44PM 44 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 MILINKOVIC-SAVIC BICYLE KICK! Saved by Navas! Wow. That would have been something else! Ivanovic chips into the box, the Lazio man goes for the spectacular, the linesman says he's offside. He isn't, so that goal would have counted if it had gone in. 1:42PM 42 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are enjoying the ball for a while. They've been on the back foot for quite a lot of the game so far, though this possession stat feels like it's way off. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia Calvo cuts inside from the left once more and tries a shot on his right foot... but drags it wide of the near post. Out: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Francisco Calvo, 42 min) 1:40PM 40 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ohhhh there's a slip in the Serbia defence by Tosic and it's given Costa Rica a chance to shoot. Urena takes it... but that's miles away. Calvo then wins a corner off Ivanovic, who isn't being given any peace. 1:37PM 38 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Both players appear OK to continue after a pause in play. What a collision that was though. Like a train battering into... another train. Or a Costa Rica defender. Anyway, they're alright. 1:35PM 36 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic wins a free-kick right in the corner. The big lads come up for the set piece, which Kolarov will whip in as in in-swinger. Navas Superman throws himself at it and punches away and then Tosic batters into Acosta while going for a header and both are in a lot of pain. 1:34PM 34 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ivanovic over-hits an early cross from wide right and puts it out for a goal kick. Costa Rica have been impressive with how they stop Serbia's build-up play. By blocking the passing option, Serbia don't really have anywhere to go other than long but are trying to keep the ball in defence until an opportunity to get forward opens up. 1:30PM 31 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are blocking the Serbian passing lanes with three forwards and two midfielders behind them, and it's forcing the defenders to really think about where they move the ball so as not to concede possession in a dangerous counter-attacking area. Once the ball is past the halfway line Costa Rica are a 5-4-1... Serbia need another option. And there it is - the chipped pass to Mitrovic. 1:28PM 29 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Bit chance! Super run off the ball by Milinkovic-Savic but he doesn't get the ball out of his feet as a pass over the top puts him through on goal. A low shot is saved easily by Navas but the offside flag had one anyway. He gets away with that miss. 1:26PM 27 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great take by Tadic. The pass is fired straight at him at pace and he controls and flicks the ball on to keep a move going. It just won't drop for Mitrovic in the area and his shot is blocked. 1:24PM 25 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: AFP Serbia are focusing their attacks through the middle then moving play out to the right wing once in the final third. Costa Rica survive another decent move but Serbia are back in possession. You can see they're favouring that right wing here: Serbia crosses Calvo is the left wing-back and is on a yellow card now too. 1:22PM 23 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica get in down the left again though and... that's a shocking tackle. He doesn't mean to go in as heavy as he does but Calvo is rightly booked for a late slide tackle near the corner on Tadic. That's the sort of challenge you put in for a laugh on Pro Evo. 1:21PM 21 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia switch the play a couple of times but Costa Rica look organised and shift over to deny the space and win possession back. Serbia are getting Tadic deeper with Matic helping out on the right now to make sure Ivanovic isn't exposed. 1:19PM 19 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win a free-kick about 35 yards from goal and this will be aimed towards Mitrovic. The referee has to tell Guzman to stand further back from the kick but doesn't book him. The ball goes in, is headed at the back post... and Costa Rica manage to get it away then drop into their low block. 1:16PM 17 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great save by Navas! Serbia have men over, Ivanovic overlaps down the right and dribbles past his man but Navas blocks the low cross into the area. Serbia might be in again! Tadic chips to the back post for Mitrovic but nobody is following up. Milinkovic-Savic has had a couple of lovely touches in the approach play to both those moves. 1:14PM 15 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic receives the ball on the edge of the box, moves it onto his right foot and shoots but the effort is blocked and Navas catches. Costa Rica attack down the left wing again - they're targeting Ivanovic at right-back. Serbia look ropey at the back here. A dreadful pass forward has nearly gifted Costa Rica the chance to break with an overload but the centre-backs just about to manage to see out the danger. 1:12PM 13 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 FREE HEADER! What a miss! Oh my word. A short corner, the second cross gives Gonzalez a completely free header. Dreadful defending from Serbia - what were they doing there? Total chaos in the second phase of that set piece and Costa Rica should be 1-0 up. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Giancarlo González, 12 min) Gonzalez can't believe he's put that miles over the bar. 1:11PM 11 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Costa Rica are looking to use their pace to take on the full-backs. Ivanovic and Kolarov aren't the young men they once were but still have a bit speed left in the legs - Costa Rica look like they might have the running of them though. Costa Rica win a corner. 1:09PM 9 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are quick and break with three forwards. It's not quite coming together for them in the final third for now but they've been able to run with the ball in Serbia's half a couple of times now. 1:07PM 7 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mitrovic is causing problems with his strength upfront and Serbia are looking for him with long throws and chipped passes. Serbia attack through the middle, the ball drops to Kolarov and he tries a shot from 30 yards but pings it wide of goal. 1:05PM 5 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia get up the pitch and win another corner. Both teams are attacking quickly and it's already entertaining. Serbia can't get space in the area thanks to the close attentions of the Costa Rica defence and Kolarov fouls Gamboa while trying to win the second ball from the corner. Costa Rica go long. 1:03PM 3 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 But now Costa Rica are in! Urena gets in behind the defence after a Ruiz pass puts him there and he wins a corner! Mitrovic is back defending now and powers a header away from goal. Calvo joins in down the left and hooks a swinging cross into the area and GONZALEZ IS THERE! But his header is straight at the goalkeeper! What a start this is! 1:01PM 2 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia start with the ball and Mitrovic gets a touch inside the area within 30 seconds. Corner. If he'd controlled that properly he was in for a shot from about 10 yards! The corner comes in and it's headed at goal! Navas looks frantic as he hops onto his other foot... but the referee has spotted a foul. The sign of things to come? 1:00PM KICK OFF Here we go! 12:55PM National anthems 12:54PM Here come the players! Costa Rica will be a 5-4-1 and try to keep things tight and take advantage of counter-attack situations while Serbia will be a 4-2-3-1. The wing-backs will get forward, the defence will be protected by Matic and Milivojevic and Milinkovic-Savic will support Mitrovic throughout. 12:47PM Evra's wearing a tin foil hat Paul Pogba's goal against Australia has been taken away from him. It's an own goal now (because it is...) and Evra has just said he wishes people would leave Paul alone. "If it was Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo I wonder if they would take that goal away," he says. Perhaps he's preparing some sort of speech about jet fuel and steel beams for half time. Patrice Evra showing surprise and actually *clapping* Eni Aluko’s analysis... awful, patronising— Omar Chaudhuri (@OmarChaudhuri) June 17, 2018 12:45PM The warm-ups Credit: GETTY IMAGES The players are just finishing their warm-ups and soon they'll be out on the pitch ready to put on a spectacle. Kolarov was holding his knee for a bit of it but I'm not sure if he's picked up a knock or something during his little pre-match routine. Now, if you'd like to get updates sent to your phone on Whatsapp, sign up for this thing we have here: World Cup whatsapp promo It keeps you up to date with all the news and scores from the games. 12:39PM Take care of the ball and the ball will take care of you Vladimir Stojkovic �� Serbia’s goalkeeper kisses the ball after every save he makes! #SRB#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/JEjD9gYCu8— Kay Murray (@KayLMurray) June 17, 2018 12:38PM Evra is impressed by a woman knowing football "Wow I'm really impressed, she knows more about the game than us," says Evra, in a somewhat* patronising way to Eni Aluko. Do your research pal. ITV have been pretty good at getting their pundits well read before going on air to be fair. Aluko has been explaining what makes Milinkovic-Savic such a threat, detailing his ability to play with the ball at feet but that he's also great at attacking and will support Mitrovic throughout today's game. *incredibly. 12:33PM The current and ex-pros' opinions "They're a strong defensive team but they don't score a lot of goals," says Eni Aluko of Costa Rica. Henrik Larsson and Patrice Evra make up the rest of ITV's pundits bench today. That's a strong lineup. 12:27PM Ivanovic becomes Serbia's all-time most capped player Credit: FIFA Today is his 104th cap, so assuming nothing changes before kick-off he will become the most capped player in the history of Serbia, surpassing Dejan Stankovic. But the real question is how tall is he compared to Mel from Mel and Sue? At 6 feet tall that makes him 1.something Mels from Mel and Sue. 12:24PM Inside the dressing rooms Credit: FIFA Credit: FIFA 12:22PM Our lovely new columnist Cesc Fabregas has joined our writing team for the World Cup and his first couple of columns are already up on the website. You can read his thoughts on Raheem Sterling here. Cesc Fabregas column: England's Raheem Sterling can deliver on the biggest stage 12:17PM Star players to look out for Keylor Navas is by far and away the best player on this Costa Rica team and according to my handy Football Manager database app (their database is used as a scouting tool by top level clubs around the world...), with an average rating of 81 he's way ahead of Borges and Campbell, both rated at 69. Bryan Ruiz shares the same rating... and then everything goes a bit south from there. Serbia meanwhile have some of the most highly rated young players in the world. Predrag Rajkovic is on the bench but at a base level 67 is expected to be about an 85 at some point in his career. I realise some of you might think I'm talking nonsense using a video game's database but their hit rate and accuracy is awesome. Matic - 78, Milinkovic-Savic -78, Adem Ljajic - 72, Aleksandar Kolarov -73... I think you get the idea. If Serbia can work their way around the Costa Rica low block and avoid making any particularly silly mistakes, they should really win this. 12:06PM Those teams in written form Costa Rica (3-5-2 / 5-4-1) Navas, Gamboa, Acosta, González, Duarte, Calvo, Venegas, Guzmán, Borges, Ruiz, Ureña Serbia (4-2-3-1) Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Tosic, Milenkovic, Kolarov, Milinkovic-Savic, Milivojevic, Matic, Ljajic, Tadic, Mitrovic Got to think Serbia are missing a trick leaving all the Football Manager wonderkids out. Zivkovic and Rajkovic on the bench? What is this - amateur hour? pic.twitter.com/LiPrSQumMX— JJ Bull (@jj_bull) June 17, 2018 12:00PM Starting lineups 10 'ic' and one Kolarov: Who's ready for the first match of the day? Here are the teams for #CRCSRB ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/np2DCvEQ78— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 17, 2018 11:59AM The best kits World Cup kits ranked 11:47AM Where is today's game? Well that would be the Samara Arena of course: World Cup 2018 stadium: Samara Arena And as we all know [looks down at phone] it is is the sixth largest city in Russia. This is what the stadium looks like.: Credit: FIFA And the inside is even cooler: Credit: REUTERS 11:40AM Welcome! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for Costa Rica vs Serbia, a match which should be really entertaining and one I'm looking forward to. Yesterday was another brilliant day of World Cup football notable for featuring several high profile VAR moments - it seems like having that extra help has really allowed referees to make some attack-minded decisions and goals make games great. So what to expect today? Serbia have the better (arguably - and I will argue it) group of players with several wonderkids supplemented by hardworking others. Nemanja Matic can run the midfield, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is one of the hottest prospects in football and Dusan Tadic is guaranteed to create chances to score. “As far as this story about me lacking experience, I don’t have any problem because I am working with professional players who prove themselves in clubs across Europe,” their manager Mladen Krstajic said. “My conscience is clear because we are working really well and have been together for three weeks. These are things that make me happy. “We have to be focused, responsible. When I met my squad for the first time I said let's relax, be friends off the pitch, but when comes to matches, everyone has to be responsible.” Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players In the red corner, Costa Rica aren't quite so strong but do have Keylor Navas in goal. You know, the Real Madrid guy. Yeh, him. Other than that, Arsenal's eternally nomadic loanee Joel Campbell is perhaps their best bet of getting a result with Celso Borges the most likely to set someone up for a goal. They didn't impress at all in defeat to England recently and were hammered by Belgium too - today is a massive test. Team news should be with us soon and I'll endeavour to bring you that as well as all the build-up and then analysis of the live action. Stick around to join in the fun.
Aleksandar Kolarov produced a ­moment of captain’s inspiration, curling home a superb free-kick as Serbia got their Group E campaign up and running on Sunday. The former Manchester City full-back had appeared to be injured in the warm-up but recovered to curl in the winner against Costa Rica. Serbia had dominated the match but chances were at a premium 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 lifted a weight from coach Mladen Krstajic, in what was his first competitive game. “There was a great deal of pressure on the team, and on me, over the past seven months,” said Krstajic, who took the job in October. Krstajic’s relief was matched in equal measure by the disappointment of Oscar Ramirez, the Costa Rica manager, whose side are now in a precarious position. “Maybe we have lost a certain margin for qualifying,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult, but our intention remains the same. I told the lads ‘This isn’t over’.” Aleksandar Kolarov struck a wonderful free-kick to win all three points for Serbia Credit: REUTERS If Costa Rica are going to recover, they will need to rediscover the defensive organisation and clinical counter-attacks that propelled them to the quarter-finals four years ago. Serbia found it hard to break them down, but they rarely looked troubled at the back and, barring a late half-chance for substitute Joel Campbell, they coasted through the game. The match began in furious ­fashion, with Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic having a header scooped off the line and Costa Rica’s Giancarlo Gonzalez failing to convert two headed chances. But it soon 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. Mitrovic failed to find the net with a good chance early in the second half, but it mattered little when Kolarov, the AS Roma left-back, produced his moment of magic, curling a free kick, left-footed, over the wall and past the despairing dive of Navas. “It is great to have three points, but we are not finished. I don’t want to do the maths yet,” Kolarov said. Match details Costa Rica (3-4-3): Navas (Real Madrid) 7; Gamboa (Celtic) 6, Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas) 6, Gonzalez (Bologna) 6; Duarte (Espanyol) 6, Calvo (Minnesota) 7, Venegas (Saprissa) 6, Guzman (Portland) 6; Borges (Coruna) 6, Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon) 6, Urena (Los Angeles) 5. Subs: Campbell (Arsenal) for Urena 73, Bolanos (Saprissa) for Venegas 60, Colindres (Saprissa) for Guzman 73. Booked: Guzman, Calvo. Serbia (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic (Partizan) 6; Ivanovic (Zenit) 6, Tosic (Besiktas) 6, Milenkovic (Fiorentina) 6, Kolarov (Roma) 7; Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) 8, Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) 6; Matic (Man Utd) 6, Ljajic (Torino) 7, Tadic (Southampton) 6; Mitrovic (Newcastle) 6. Subs: Kostic (Hamburg) for Ljajic 70, Rukavina (Villarreal) for Tadic 83, Prijovic (PAOK) for Mitrovic 90. Booked: Prijovic. Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal). 3:08PM Some full-time stats for you After losing five consecutive World Cup games between 1998 and 2010, Serbia have since won two of their last three in the competition (L1). Serbia have won their opening game at a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1998, when they did so as Yugoslavia against Iran (1-0). Serbia have now won all four of their World Cup games against teams from the CONCACAF region, with the first three of those coming as Yugoslavia between 1950 and 1998. Costa Rica suffered their first defeat at the World Cup since 2006 (1-2 v Poland), ending a run of five games unbeaten in the competition (W2 D3). And my favourite of all: Aleksandar Kolarov’s goal for Serbia was the third direct free-kick scored at this year’s World Cup (after Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo), which is already as many as there were in the entire 2014 tournament in Brazil. 3:05PM Next up It's Germany vs Mexico! Join Alan Tyers in our World Cup liveblog as he brings you the team news, updates and analysis from the match. 3:05PM The referee separating the players Credit: GETTY IMAGES This is that little rammy towards the end when Matic went nuts. It looks like the Costa Rica nine, Colindres, puts a full on slap on a Serbia player. Could be a red card, might not. I'd argue that the players are just getting fired up late on - if it had been earlier in the game then it would have been in the ref's interests to sort things out further. 3:02PM Who stood out there then? Let's do some player ratings. Costa Rica (3-4-3 / 5-4-1) Navas 7, Gamboa 6, Acosta 6, González 6, Duarte 6, Calvo 7, Venegas 6, Guzmán 6, Borges 6, Ruiz 6, Ureña 5 Serbia (4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2) Stojkovic 6, Ivanovic 6, Tosic 6, Milenkovic 6, Kolarov 7, Milinkovic-Savic 8, Milivojevic 6, Matic 6, Ljajic 6, Tadic 7, Mitrovic 5 2:58PM Analysis Average touch positions (full time) A game of one half. Specifically the right for Serbia and left for Costa Rica. Passes kept going down the one side of the pitch. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:55PM FULL TIME Credit: AFP And that's it! Serbia get a deserved win against a spirited Costa Rica. Kolarov's free-kick was a thing of wonder and has won the points. 2:54PM 90 mins +7 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 More controversy here. Prijovic has caught someone off the ball with his forearm and Acosta throws himself to the floor. Is this a red card? The VAR is in use! Aaaaand it's a yellow card. Another good decision (IMO). 2:52PM 90 mins +5 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 VAR time! The referee is reviewing that decision! He wants to see if Matic should be in more trouble... but the VAR says no. Seems fair. Costa Rica keep coming... the ball is hooked in, headed down IT'S A CHANCE FOR BOLANOS! And he's missed from six yards! Thankfully, the linesman calls offside and he is miles ahead of the last man. What a miss though. Dreadful finish. 2:50PM 90 mins +4 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 That's poor from the substitute Rukavina. He loses possession then doesn't try to win it back but now Serbia are on the counter-attack, with men over! And the ball's been lost. And now Matic is involved with the bench! He's getting all fired up needlessly with the Costa Rica staff. 2:49PM 90 mins +3 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick 40 yards out, hit it in the area and it;s headed away. Gamboa goes for a distance wondergoal but his long range effort is saved by the goalkeeper easily. 2:47PM 90 mins +1 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 M-Savic has had a superb game. His timing of pass and movement off the ball is excellent. Serbia take Mitrovic off for Prijovic. Serbia come forward again - they have men over! Kostic spots the chance to shoot but blasts over the bar. So many players have been jumping their shots miles over. Practise required. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Filip Kostic, 90 min) 2:45PM 89 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 MITROVIC IS IN AGAIN! And he's wasted the chance again! Oh my word. He's so very nearly a great player - gets in the right positions, is strong but his finishing isn't all that. And here he gets into the box, slows down to wait for the ball to roll ahead of his body and the Costa Rica defender goes down. Mitrovic goes down too but I suspect that's more a problem of balance than an actual foul. No VAR for this incident. 2:43PM 87 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Stojkovic gets someone to help him tie his shoelaces. Cunning time-wasting tactic? Or cruel window into a life spent never learning to tie shoelaces? Only he really knows. 2:41PM 85 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica are now focusing most of their play down the right, targeting Kolarov. Nothing's coming off at the moment now, they're running out of ideas. 2:39PM 82 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell's been lively since coming on but you can kind of tell he's not played much recently. A half yard off the pace on the ball has given Serbia defenders opportunity to rob him of possession. Rukavina comes on for Tadic, which is almost certainly to give Ivanovic back-up at right-back. It might mean a 5-4-1 for Serbia. 2:36PM 80 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell tries to work space for a shot on the edge of the area but is blocked. M-Savic pulls off another beautiful bit of skill to take the ball round the outside of a midfielder and puts Serbia on the attack. They're starting to look a little tired now... 2:35PM 78 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: TASS Ooooh that should be 2-0. Tadic gets in behind on the right and squares the pass into the six yard box. Navas dives at it, gets a tiny flick on it and Kostic has a side foot to finish in an empty net. He gets it all wrong though and the net is unharmed. 2:32PM 76 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Colindres comes on for Guzman, which means Costa Rica have used all their substitutions up. Serbia fire some passes together and link well. M-Savic has the chance to shoot 25 yards out, takes the chance but balloons his effort way over the bar. 2:30PM 74 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell is in behind! There's a lucky deflection and Campbell gets ahead of Milenkovic but just isn't sharp enough to beat him to the ball and get a shot away. Corner. The goalie comes to get the cross but is nowhere near it. Like someone's thrown a scarecrow into the air at the ball. Serbia survive and Mitrovic shields the ball high up the pitch. 2:29PM 72 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica free-kick wide left... Campbell takes it and a Serbian head puts it clear. Kostic tries to break but the ball goes out of play, Serbia go back to their 4-4-1-1 shape and get behind the ball. 2:27PM 70 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell goes on a little dribble into the box but Ljajic puts in a great tackle and wins the ball. Costa Rica in a clear 3-4-3 now and making much snappier passes. Now Serbia are taking their turn to defend with blocks of four. Ljajic comes off for Kostic. 2:24PM 68 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Here comes Joel Campbell! Urena heads off. Look at the difference in possession now! Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:22PM 66 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES What a photo that is! The ball smashing into the back of the net from Kolarov's free-kick. Serbia have dropped really deep now they're 1-0 up... I wonder whether the best form of defence might actually be attacking Costa Rica more. They're inviting trouble like this. 2:20PM 64 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 1 - Kolarov has been the first Serbian player to score from direct free kick at the WC since Sinisa Mihajlovic v Iran on 14 June 1998 (including Yugoslavia). Southpaw. pic.twitter.com/yLePjJ0cmn— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 17, 2018 Costa Rica taking the game to Serbia now and Serbia are dropping further and further back. 2:18PM 62 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick in the final third but Serbia defend deep and head away. Costa Rica trying to get back into the game straight away. You're at your most vulnerable just after scoring goes the old saying. 2:16PM 60 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Serbia have the momentum now. Ljajic makes a run ahead of the defence and just can't get on the end of a chipped pass from Tadic. Will Costa Rica come out of their defensive shell now? 2:13PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! WHAT A HIT! KOLAVOC HAS SCORED! Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Aleksandar Kolarov, 56 min) Navas had absolutely no chance! It's a perfect free-kick, curled over the wall with power into the top corner. Goal: Serbia ( 56 min ) Unstoppable. 2:13PM 56 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win another free-kick in a dangerous area. Kolarov can shoot from here and seems to be lining one up. 2:12PM 55 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic gets a head on the ball as Duarte grabs hold of him in full view of the referee. Consistency in refereeing? There's not an awful lot of difference between that incident and the one yesterday that resulted in a penalty for Argentina. 2:11PM 54 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia enjoying more of the ball here. Kolarov curls a cross to the box and wins a corner as Calvo heads away at the back post. The referee has to sort out some pushing and pulling in the area. 2:09PM 52 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia are stretching the pitch and attacking through the middle more now. Although another cross from wide is collected from Navas. 2:08PM 50 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 HUGE MISS! Mitrovic breaks the offside trap, is one on one with Navas and his shot is terrible. Navas saves well but Mitrovic has to score there. What a massive moment that could prove to be. 2:07PM 49 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are on the right (light blue), Serbia the left (dark blue). 2:03PM 47 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic comes back to help out Ivanovic early on as Bryan Ruiz skins him on the left wing. No change of tactic here then. 2:02PM KICK-OFF 2 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica start the second half. We're back! 2:00PM Next up World Cup 2018 tactics: Why Germany's goalkeeper is key to how they attack Don't forget that after this game is Germany vs Mexico! You can join Alan Tyers in our liveblog coverage of that once this match is over. And not a moment sooner! Don't leave me. Please. 1:57PM Serbia's strikers Check the starting position of Milinkovic-Savic in possession. He's a central striker! Patrice Evra on him being linked with Man Utd: "You need to be a character, a personality. I'm afraid now you miss players playing for the passion. If you said 20 years ago Patrice you play for Manchester United and you don't even get paid, you do it." Doesn't really answer the question but I think I know what I mean. At least he hasn't literally applauded Aluko's football knowledge with this answer. 1:49PM Serbia's very attacking average positions That's a 2-4-4! Love it. Average touch positions (42 min) Look at the near-comical focus on one particular side of the pitch. Poor Ivanovic, he'll be knackered at the end of this. 1:47PM HALF TIME - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Thoroughly entertaining stuff there. Costa Rica targeting Ivanovic down the left and relying on quick counter-attacks, while Serbia have done well without really taking advantage of all their possession. Where there's Mitrovic there's a chance and Milinkovic-Savic has turned up in dangerous areas too. I can see a goal or two in the second half. 1:46PM 45 mins +1 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Borges should be booked for pulling Ljajic back just as he was about to get Serbia moving in the Costa Rica half... but Mitrovic is penalised for a tiny nudge on the back of Gonzalez. 1:44PM 44 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 MILINKOVIC-SAVIC BICYLE KICK! Saved by Navas! Wow. That would have been something else! Ivanovic chips into the box, the Lazio man goes for the spectacular, the linesman says he's offside. He isn't, so that goal would have counted if it had gone in. 1:42PM 42 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are enjoying the ball for a while. They've been on the back foot for quite a lot of the game so far, though this possession stat feels like it's way off. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia Calvo cuts inside from the left once more and tries a shot on his right foot... but drags it wide of the near post. Out: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Francisco Calvo, 42 min) 1:40PM 40 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ohhhh there's a slip in the Serbia defence by Tosic and it's given Costa Rica a chance to shoot. Urena takes it... but that's miles away. Calvo then wins a corner off Ivanovic, who isn't being given any peace. 1:37PM 38 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Both players appear OK to continue after a pause in play. What a collision that was though. Like a train battering into... another train. Or a Costa Rica defender. Anyway, they're alright. 1:35PM 36 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic wins a free-kick right in the corner. The big lads come up for the set piece, which Kolarov will whip in as in in-swinger. Navas Superman throws himself at it and punches away and then Tosic batters into Acosta while going for a header and both are in a lot of pain. 1:34PM 34 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ivanovic over-hits an early cross from wide right and puts it out for a goal kick. Costa Rica have been impressive with how they stop Serbia's build-up play. By blocking the passing option, Serbia don't really have anywhere to go other than long but are trying to keep the ball in defence until an opportunity to get forward opens up. 1:30PM 31 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are blocking the Serbian passing lanes with three forwards and two midfielders behind them, and it's forcing the defenders to really think about where they move the ball so as not to concede possession in a dangerous counter-attacking area. Once the ball is past the halfway line Costa Rica are a 5-4-1... Serbia need another option. And there it is - the chipped pass to Mitrovic. 1:28PM 29 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Bit chance! Super run off the ball by Milinkovic-Savic but he doesn't get the ball out of his feet as a pass over the top puts him through on goal. A low shot is saved easily by Navas but the offside flag had one anyway. He gets away with that miss. 1:26PM 27 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great take by Tadic. The pass is fired straight at him at pace and he controls and flicks the ball on to keep a move going. It just won't drop for Mitrovic in the area and his shot is blocked. 1:24PM 25 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: AFP Serbia are focusing their attacks through the middle then moving play out to the right wing once in the final third. Costa Rica survive another decent move but Serbia are back in possession. You can see they're favouring that right wing here: Serbia crosses Calvo is the left wing-back and is on a yellow card now too. 1:22PM 23 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica get in down the left again though and... that's a shocking tackle. He doesn't mean to go in as heavy as he does but Calvo is rightly booked for a late slide tackle near the corner on Tadic. That's the sort of challenge you put in for a laugh on Pro Evo. 1:21PM 21 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia switch the play a couple of times but Costa Rica look organised and shift over to deny the space and win possession back. Serbia are getting Tadic deeper with Matic helping out on the right now to make sure Ivanovic isn't exposed. 1:19PM 19 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win a free-kick about 35 yards from goal and this will be aimed towards Mitrovic. The referee has to tell Guzman to stand further back from the kick but doesn't book him. The ball goes in, is headed at the back post... and Costa Rica manage to get it away then drop into their low block. 1:16PM 17 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great save by Navas! Serbia have men over, Ivanovic overlaps down the right and dribbles past his man but Navas blocks the low cross into the area. Serbia might be in again! Tadic chips to the back post for Mitrovic but nobody is following up. Milinkovic-Savic has had a couple of lovely touches in the approach play to both those moves. 1:14PM 15 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic receives the ball on the edge of the box, moves it onto his right foot and shoots but the effort is blocked and Navas catches. Costa Rica attack down the left wing again - they're targeting Ivanovic at right-back. Serbia look ropey at the back here. A dreadful pass forward has nearly gifted Costa Rica the chance to break with an overload but the centre-backs just about to manage to see out the danger. 1:12PM 13 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 FREE HEADER! What a miss! Oh my word. A short corner, the second cross gives Gonzalez a completely free header. Dreadful defending from Serbia - what were they doing there? Total chaos in the second phase of that set piece and Costa Rica should be 1-0 up. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Giancarlo González, 12 min) Gonzalez can't believe he's put that miles over the bar. 1:11PM 11 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Costa Rica are looking to use their pace to take on the full-backs. Ivanovic and Kolarov aren't the young men they once were but still have a bit speed left in the legs - Costa Rica look like they might have the running of them though. Costa Rica win a corner. 1:09PM 9 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are quick and break with three forwards. It's not quite coming together for them in the final third for now but they've been able to run with the ball in Serbia's half a couple of times now. 1:07PM 7 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mitrovic is causing problems with his strength upfront and Serbia are looking for him with long throws and chipped passes. Serbia attack through the middle, the ball drops to Kolarov and he tries a shot from 30 yards but pings it wide of goal. 1:05PM 5 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia get up the pitch and win another corner. Both teams are attacking quickly and it's already entertaining. Serbia can't get space in the area thanks to the close attentions of the Costa Rica defence and Kolarov fouls Gamboa while trying to win the second ball from the corner. Costa Rica go long. 1:03PM 3 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 But now Costa Rica are in! Urena gets in behind the defence after a Ruiz pass puts him there and he wins a corner! Mitrovic is back defending now and powers a header away from goal. Calvo joins in down the left and hooks a swinging cross into the area and GONZALEZ IS THERE! But his header is straight at the goalkeeper! What a start this is! 1:01PM 2 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia start with the ball and Mitrovic gets a touch inside the area within 30 seconds. Corner. If he'd controlled that properly he was in for a shot from about 10 yards! The corner comes in and it's headed at goal! Navas looks frantic as he hops onto his other foot... but the referee has spotted a foul. The sign of things to come? 1:00PM KICK OFF Here we go! 12:55PM National anthems 12:54PM Here come the players! Costa Rica will be a 5-4-1 and try to keep things tight and take advantage of counter-attack situations while Serbia will be a 4-2-3-1. The wing-backs will get forward, the defence will be protected by Matic and Milivojevic and Milinkovic-Savic will support Mitrovic throughout. 12:47PM Evra's wearing a tin foil hat Paul Pogba's goal against Australia has been taken away from him. It's an own goal now (because it is...) and Evra has just said he wishes people would leave Paul alone. "If it was Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo I wonder if they would take that goal away," he says. Perhaps he's preparing some sort of speech about jet fuel and steel beams for half time. Patrice Evra showing surprise and actually *clapping* Eni Aluko’s analysis... awful, patronising— Omar Chaudhuri (@OmarChaudhuri) June 17, 2018 12:45PM The warm-ups Credit: GETTY IMAGES The players are just finishing their warm-ups and soon they'll be out on the pitch ready to put on a spectacle. Kolarov was holding his knee for a bit of it but I'm not sure if he's picked up a knock or something during his little pre-match routine. Now, if you'd like to get updates sent to your phone on Whatsapp, sign up for this thing we have here: World Cup whatsapp promo It keeps you up to date with all the news and scores from the games. 12:39PM Take care of the ball and the ball will take care of you Vladimir Stojkovic �� Serbia’s goalkeeper kisses the ball after every save he makes! #SRB#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/JEjD9gYCu8— Kay Murray (@KayLMurray) June 17, 2018 12:38PM Evra is impressed by a woman knowing football "Wow I'm really impressed, she knows more about the game than us," says Evra, in a somewhat* patronising way to Eni Aluko. Do your research pal. ITV have been pretty good at getting their pundits well read before going on air to be fair. Aluko has been explaining what makes Milinkovic-Savic such a threat, detailing his ability to play with the ball at feet but that he's also great at attacking and will support Mitrovic throughout today's game. *incredibly. 12:33PM The current and ex-pros' opinions "They're a strong defensive team but they don't score a lot of goals," says Eni Aluko of Costa Rica. Henrik Larsson and Patrice Evra make up the rest of ITV's pundits bench today. That's a strong lineup. 12:27PM Ivanovic becomes Serbia's all-time most capped player Credit: FIFA Today is his 104th cap, so assuming nothing changes before kick-off he will become the most capped player in the history of Serbia, surpassing Dejan Stankovic. But the real question is how tall is he compared to Mel from Mel and Sue? At 6 feet tall that makes him 1.something Mels from Mel and Sue. 12:24PM Inside the dressing rooms Credit: FIFA Credit: FIFA 12:22PM Our lovely new columnist Cesc Fabregas has joined our writing team for the World Cup and his first couple of columns are already up on the website. You can read his thoughts on Raheem Sterling here. Cesc Fabregas column: England's Raheem Sterling can deliver on the biggest stage 12:17PM Star players to look out for Keylor Navas is by far and away the best player on this Costa Rica team and according to my handy Football Manager database app (their database is used as a scouting tool by top level clubs around the world...), with an average rating of 81 he's way ahead of Borges and Campbell, both rated at 69. Bryan Ruiz shares the same rating... and then everything goes a bit south from there. Serbia meanwhile have some of the most highly rated young players in the world. Predrag Rajkovic is on the bench but at a base level 67 is expected to be about an 85 at some point in his career. I realise some of you might think I'm talking nonsense using a video game's database but their hit rate and accuracy is awesome. Matic - 78, Milinkovic-Savic -78, Adem Ljajic - 72, Aleksandar Kolarov -73... I think you get the idea. If Serbia can work their way around the Costa Rica low block and avoid making any particularly silly mistakes, they should really win this. 12:06PM Those teams in written form Costa Rica (3-5-2 / 5-4-1) Navas, Gamboa, Acosta, González, Duarte, Calvo, Venegas, Guzmán, Borges, Ruiz, Ureña Serbia (4-2-3-1) Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Tosic, Milenkovic, Kolarov, Milinkovic-Savic, Milivojevic, Matic, Ljajic, Tadic, Mitrovic Got to think Serbia are missing a trick leaving all the Football Manager wonderkids out. Zivkovic and Rajkovic on the bench? What is this - amateur hour? pic.twitter.com/LiPrSQumMX— JJ Bull (@jj_bull) June 17, 2018 12:00PM Starting lineups 10 'ic' and one Kolarov: Who's ready for the first match of the day? Here are the teams for #CRCSRB ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/np2DCvEQ78— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 17, 2018 11:59AM The best kits World Cup kits ranked 11:47AM Where is today's game? Well that would be the Samara Arena of course: World Cup 2018 stadium: Samara Arena And as we all know [looks down at phone] it is is the sixth largest city in Russia. This is what the stadium looks like.: Credit: FIFA And the inside is even cooler: Credit: REUTERS 11:40AM Welcome! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for Costa Rica vs Serbia, a match which should be really entertaining and one I'm looking forward to. Yesterday was another brilliant day of World Cup football notable for featuring several high profile VAR moments - it seems like having that extra help has really allowed referees to make some attack-minded decisions and goals make games great. So what to expect today? Serbia have the better (arguably - and I will argue it) group of players with several wonderkids supplemented by hardworking others. Nemanja Matic can run the midfield, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is one of the hottest prospects in football and Dusan Tadic is guaranteed to create chances to score. “As far as this story about me lacking experience, I don’t have any problem because I am working with professional players who prove themselves in clubs across Europe,” their manager Mladen Krstajic said. “My conscience is clear because we are working really well and have been together for three weeks. These are things that make me happy. “We have to be focused, responsible. When I met my squad for the first time I said let's relax, be friends off the pitch, but when comes to matches, everyone has to be responsible.” Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players In the red corner, Costa Rica aren't quite so strong but do have Keylor Navas in goal. You know, the Real Madrid guy. Yeh, him. Other than that, Arsenal's eternally nomadic loanee Joel Campbell is perhaps their best bet of getting a result with Celso Borges the most likely to set someone up for a goal. They didn't impress at all in defeat to England recently and were hammered by Belgium too - today is a massive test. Team news should be with us soon and I'll endeavour to bring you that as well as all the build-up and then analysis of the live action. Stick around to join in the fun.
Aleksandar Kolarov scores sensational free-kick as Serbia claim hard-fought World Cup 2018 win against Costa Rica
Aleksandar Kolarov produced a ­moment of captain’s inspiration, curling home a superb free-kick as Serbia got their Group E campaign up and running on Sunday. The former Manchester City full-back had appeared to be injured in the warm-up but recovered to curl in the winner against Costa Rica. Serbia had dominated the match but chances were at a premium 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 lifted a weight from coach Mladen Krstajic, in what was his first competitive game. “There was a great deal of pressure on the team, and on me, over the past seven months,” said Krstajic, who took the job in October. Krstajic’s relief was matched in equal measure by the disappointment of Oscar Ramirez, the Costa Rica manager, whose side are now in a precarious position. “Maybe we have lost a certain margin for qualifying,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult, but our intention remains the same. I told the lads ‘This isn’t over’.” Aleksandar Kolarov struck a wonderful free-kick to win all three points for Serbia Credit: REUTERS If Costa Rica are going to recover, they will need to rediscover the defensive organisation and clinical counter-attacks that propelled them to the quarter-finals four years ago. Serbia found it hard to break them down, but they rarely looked troubled at the back and, barring a late half-chance for substitute Joel Campbell, they coasted through the game. The match began in furious ­fashion, with Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic having a header scooped off the line and Costa Rica’s Giancarlo Gonzalez failing to convert two headed chances. But it soon 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. Mitrovic failed to find the net with a good chance early in the second half, but it mattered little when Kolarov, the AS Roma left-back, produced his moment of magic, curling a free kick, left-footed, over the wall and past the despairing dive of Navas. “It is great to have three points, but we are not finished. I don’t want to do the maths yet,” Kolarov said. Match details Costa Rica (3-4-3): Navas (Real Madrid) 7; Gamboa (Celtic) 6, Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas) 6, Gonzalez (Bologna) 6; Duarte (Espanyol) 6, Calvo (Minnesota) 7, Venegas (Saprissa) 6, Guzman (Portland) 6; Borges (Coruna) 6, Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon) 6, Urena (Los Angeles) 5. Subs: Campbell (Arsenal) for Urena 73, Bolanos (Saprissa) for Venegas 60, Colindres (Saprissa) for Guzman 73. Booked: Guzman, Calvo. Serbia (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic (Partizan) 6; Ivanovic (Zenit) 6, Tosic (Besiktas) 6, Milenkovic (Fiorentina) 6, Kolarov (Roma) 7; Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) 8, Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) 6; Matic (Man Utd) 6, Ljajic (Torino) 7, Tadic (Southampton) 6; Mitrovic (Newcastle) 6. Subs: Kostic (Hamburg) for Ljajic 70, Rukavina (Villarreal) for Tadic 83, Prijovic (PAOK) for Mitrovic 90. Booked: Prijovic. Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal). 3:08PM Some full-time stats for you After losing five consecutive World Cup games between 1998 and 2010, Serbia have since won two of their last three in the competition (L1). Serbia have won their opening game at a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1998, when they did so as Yugoslavia against Iran (1-0). Serbia have now won all four of their World Cup games against teams from the CONCACAF region, with the first three of those coming as Yugoslavia between 1950 and 1998. Costa Rica suffered their first defeat at the World Cup since 2006 (1-2 v Poland), ending a run of five games unbeaten in the competition (W2 D3). And my favourite of all: Aleksandar Kolarov’s goal for Serbia was the third direct free-kick scored at this year’s World Cup (after Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo), which is already as many as there were in the entire 2014 tournament in Brazil. 3:05PM Next up It's Germany vs Mexico! Join Alan Tyers in our World Cup liveblog as he brings you the team news, updates and analysis from the match. 3:05PM The referee separating the players Credit: GETTY IMAGES This is that little rammy towards the end when Matic went nuts. It looks like the Costa Rica nine, Colindres, puts a full on slap on a Serbia player. Could be a red card, might not. I'd argue that the players are just getting fired up late on - if it had been earlier in the game then it would have been in the ref's interests to sort things out further. 3:02PM Who stood out there then? Let's do some player ratings. Costa Rica (3-4-3 / 5-4-1) Navas 7, Gamboa 6, Acosta 6, González 6, Duarte 6, Calvo 7, Venegas 6, Guzmán 6, Borges 6, Ruiz 6, Ureña 5 Serbia (4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2) Stojkovic 6, Ivanovic 6, Tosic 6, Milenkovic 6, Kolarov 7, Milinkovic-Savic 8, Milivojevic 6, Matic 6, Ljajic 6, Tadic 7, Mitrovic 5 2:58PM Analysis Average touch positions (full time) A game of one half. Specifically the right for Serbia and left for Costa Rica. Passes kept going down the one side of the pitch. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:55PM FULL TIME Credit: AFP And that's it! Serbia get a deserved win against a spirited Costa Rica. Kolarov's free-kick was a thing of wonder and has won the points. 2:54PM 90 mins +7 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 More controversy here. Prijovic has caught someone off the ball with his forearm and Acosta throws himself to the floor. Is this a red card? The VAR is in use! Aaaaand it's a yellow card. Another good decision (IMO). 2:52PM 90 mins +5 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 VAR time! The referee is reviewing that decision! He wants to see if Matic should be in more trouble... but the VAR says no. Seems fair. Costa Rica keep coming... the ball is hooked in, headed down IT'S A CHANCE FOR BOLANOS! And he's missed from six yards! Thankfully, the linesman calls offside and he is miles ahead of the last man. What a miss though. Dreadful finish. 2:50PM 90 mins +4 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 That's poor from the substitute Rukavina. He loses possession then doesn't try to win it back but now Serbia are on the counter-attack, with men over! And the ball's been lost. And now Matic is involved with the bench! He's getting all fired up needlessly with the Costa Rica staff. 2:49PM 90 mins +3 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick 40 yards out, hit it in the area and it;s headed away. Gamboa goes for a distance wondergoal but his long range effort is saved by the goalkeeper easily. 2:47PM 90 mins +1 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 M-Savic has had a superb game. His timing of pass and movement off the ball is excellent. Serbia take Mitrovic off for Prijovic. Serbia come forward again - they have men over! Kostic spots the chance to shoot but blasts over the bar. So many players have been jumping their shots miles over. Practise required. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Filip Kostic, 90 min) 2:45PM 89 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 MITROVIC IS IN AGAIN! And he's wasted the chance again! Oh my word. He's so very nearly a great player - gets in the right positions, is strong but his finishing isn't all that. And here he gets into the box, slows down to wait for the ball to roll ahead of his body and the Costa Rica defender goes down. Mitrovic goes down too but I suspect that's more a problem of balance than an actual foul. No VAR for this incident. 2:43PM 87 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Stojkovic gets someone to help him tie his shoelaces. Cunning time-wasting tactic? Or cruel window into a life spent never learning to tie shoelaces? Only he really knows. 2:41PM 85 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica are now focusing most of their play down the right, targeting Kolarov. Nothing's coming off at the moment now, they're running out of ideas. 2:39PM 82 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell's been lively since coming on but you can kind of tell he's not played much recently. A half yard off the pace on the ball has given Serbia defenders opportunity to rob him of possession. Rukavina comes on for Tadic, which is almost certainly to give Ivanovic back-up at right-back. It might mean a 5-4-1 for Serbia. 2:36PM 80 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell tries to work space for a shot on the edge of the area but is blocked. M-Savic pulls off another beautiful bit of skill to take the ball round the outside of a midfielder and puts Serbia on the attack. They're starting to look a little tired now... 2:35PM 78 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: TASS Ooooh that should be 2-0. Tadic gets in behind on the right and squares the pass into the six yard box. Navas dives at it, gets a tiny flick on it and Kostic has a side foot to finish in an empty net. He gets it all wrong though and the net is unharmed. 2:32PM 76 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Colindres comes on for Guzman, which means Costa Rica have used all their substitutions up. Serbia fire some passes together and link well. M-Savic has the chance to shoot 25 yards out, takes the chance but balloons his effort way over the bar. 2:30PM 74 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell is in behind! There's a lucky deflection and Campbell gets ahead of Milenkovic but just isn't sharp enough to beat him to the ball and get a shot away. Corner. The goalie comes to get the cross but is nowhere near it. Like someone's thrown a scarecrow into the air at the ball. Serbia survive and Mitrovic shields the ball high up the pitch. 2:29PM 72 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica free-kick wide left... Campbell takes it and a Serbian head puts it clear. Kostic tries to break but the ball goes out of play, Serbia go back to their 4-4-1-1 shape and get behind the ball. 2:27PM 70 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell goes on a little dribble into the box but Ljajic puts in a great tackle and wins the ball. Costa Rica in a clear 3-4-3 now and making much snappier passes. Now Serbia are taking their turn to defend with blocks of four. Ljajic comes off for Kostic. 2:24PM 68 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Here comes Joel Campbell! Urena heads off. Look at the difference in possession now! Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:22PM 66 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES What a photo that is! The ball smashing into the back of the net from Kolarov's free-kick. Serbia have dropped really deep now they're 1-0 up... I wonder whether the best form of defence might actually be attacking Costa Rica more. They're inviting trouble like this. 2:20PM 64 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 1 - Kolarov has been the first Serbian player to score from direct free kick at the WC since Sinisa Mihajlovic v Iran on 14 June 1998 (including Yugoslavia). Southpaw. pic.twitter.com/yLePjJ0cmn— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 17, 2018 Costa Rica taking the game to Serbia now and Serbia are dropping further and further back. 2:18PM 62 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick in the final third but Serbia defend deep and head away. Costa Rica trying to get back into the game straight away. You're at your most vulnerable just after scoring goes the old saying. 2:16PM 60 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Serbia have the momentum now. Ljajic makes a run ahead of the defence and just can't get on the end of a chipped pass from Tadic. Will Costa Rica come out of their defensive shell now? 2:13PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! WHAT A HIT! KOLAVOC HAS SCORED! Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Aleksandar Kolarov, 56 min) Navas had absolutely no chance! It's a perfect free-kick, curled over the wall with power into the top corner. Goal: Serbia ( 56 min ) Unstoppable. 2:13PM 56 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win another free-kick in a dangerous area. Kolarov can shoot from here and seems to be lining one up. 2:12PM 55 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic gets a head on the ball as Duarte grabs hold of him in full view of the referee. Consistency in refereeing? There's not an awful lot of difference between that incident and the one yesterday that resulted in a penalty for Argentina. 2:11PM 54 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia enjoying more of the ball here. Kolarov curls a cross to the box and wins a corner as Calvo heads away at the back post. The referee has to sort out some pushing and pulling in the area. 2:09PM 52 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia are stretching the pitch and attacking through the middle more now. Although another cross from wide is collected from Navas. 2:08PM 50 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 HUGE MISS! Mitrovic breaks the offside trap, is one on one with Navas and his shot is terrible. Navas saves well but Mitrovic has to score there. What a massive moment that could prove to be. 2:07PM 49 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are on the right (light blue), Serbia the left (dark blue). 2:03PM 47 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic comes back to help out Ivanovic early on as Bryan Ruiz skins him on the left wing. No change of tactic here then. 2:02PM KICK-OFF 2 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica start the second half. We're back! 2:00PM Next up World Cup 2018 tactics: Why Germany's goalkeeper is key to how they attack Don't forget that after this game is Germany vs Mexico! You can join Alan Tyers in our liveblog coverage of that once this match is over. And not a moment sooner! Don't leave me. Please. 1:57PM Serbia's strikers Check the starting position of Milinkovic-Savic in possession. He's a central striker! Patrice Evra on him being linked with Man Utd: "You need to be a character, a personality. I'm afraid now you miss players playing for the passion. If you said 20 years ago Patrice you play for Manchester United and you don't even get paid, you do it." Doesn't really answer the question but I think I know what I mean. At least he hasn't literally applauded Aluko's football knowledge with this answer. 1:49PM Serbia's very attacking average positions That's a 2-4-4! Love it. Average touch positions (42 min) Look at the near-comical focus on one particular side of the pitch. Poor Ivanovic, he'll be knackered at the end of this. 1:47PM HALF TIME - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Thoroughly entertaining stuff there. Costa Rica targeting Ivanovic down the left and relying on quick counter-attacks, while Serbia have done well without really taking advantage of all their possession. Where there's Mitrovic there's a chance and Milinkovic-Savic has turned up in dangerous areas too. I can see a goal or two in the second half. 1:46PM 45 mins +1 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Borges should be booked for pulling Ljajic back just as he was about to get Serbia moving in the Costa Rica half... but Mitrovic is penalised for a tiny nudge on the back of Gonzalez. 1:44PM 44 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 MILINKOVIC-SAVIC BICYLE KICK! Saved by Navas! Wow. That would have been something else! Ivanovic chips into the box, the Lazio man goes for the spectacular, the linesman says he's offside. He isn't, so that goal would have counted if it had gone in. 1:42PM 42 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are enjoying the ball for a while. They've been on the back foot for quite a lot of the game so far, though this possession stat feels like it's way off. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia Calvo cuts inside from the left once more and tries a shot on his right foot... but drags it wide of the near post. Out: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Francisco Calvo, 42 min) 1:40PM 40 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ohhhh there's a slip in the Serbia defence by Tosic and it's given Costa Rica a chance to shoot. Urena takes it... but that's miles away. Calvo then wins a corner off Ivanovic, who isn't being given any peace. 1:37PM 38 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Both players appear OK to continue after a pause in play. What a collision that was though. Like a train battering into... another train. Or a Costa Rica defender. Anyway, they're alright. 1:35PM 36 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic wins a free-kick right in the corner. The big lads come up for the set piece, which Kolarov will whip in as in in-swinger. Navas Superman throws himself at it and punches away and then Tosic batters into Acosta while going for a header and both are in a lot of pain. 1:34PM 34 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ivanovic over-hits an early cross from wide right and puts it out for a goal kick. Costa Rica have been impressive with how they stop Serbia's build-up play. By blocking the passing option, Serbia don't really have anywhere to go other than long but are trying to keep the ball in defence until an opportunity to get forward opens up. 1:30PM 31 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are blocking the Serbian passing lanes with three forwards and two midfielders behind them, and it's forcing the defenders to really think about where they move the ball so as not to concede possession in a dangerous counter-attacking area. Once the ball is past the halfway line Costa Rica are a 5-4-1... Serbia need another option. And there it is - the chipped pass to Mitrovic. 1:28PM 29 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Bit chance! Super run off the ball by Milinkovic-Savic but he doesn't get the ball out of his feet as a pass over the top puts him through on goal. A low shot is saved easily by Navas but the offside flag had one anyway. He gets away with that miss. 1:26PM 27 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great take by Tadic. The pass is fired straight at him at pace and he controls and flicks the ball on to keep a move going. It just won't drop for Mitrovic in the area and his shot is blocked. 1:24PM 25 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: AFP Serbia are focusing their attacks through the middle then moving play out to the right wing once in the final third. Costa Rica survive another decent move but Serbia are back in possession. You can see they're favouring that right wing here: Serbia crosses Calvo is the left wing-back and is on a yellow card now too. 1:22PM 23 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica get in down the left again though and... that's a shocking tackle. He doesn't mean to go in as heavy as he does but Calvo is rightly booked for a late slide tackle near the corner on Tadic. That's the sort of challenge you put in for a laugh on Pro Evo. 1:21PM 21 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia switch the play a couple of times but Costa Rica look organised and shift over to deny the space and win possession back. Serbia are getting Tadic deeper with Matic helping out on the right now to make sure Ivanovic isn't exposed. 1:19PM 19 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win a free-kick about 35 yards from goal and this will be aimed towards Mitrovic. The referee has to tell Guzman to stand further back from the kick but doesn't book him. The ball goes in, is headed at the back post... and Costa Rica manage to get it away then drop into their low block. 1:16PM 17 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great save by Navas! Serbia have men over, Ivanovic overlaps down the right and dribbles past his man but Navas blocks the low cross into the area. Serbia might be in again! Tadic chips to the back post for Mitrovic but nobody is following up. Milinkovic-Savic has had a couple of lovely touches in the approach play to both those moves. 1:14PM 15 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic receives the ball on the edge of the box, moves it onto his right foot and shoots but the effort is blocked and Navas catches. Costa Rica attack down the left wing again - they're targeting Ivanovic at right-back. Serbia look ropey at the back here. A dreadful pass forward has nearly gifted Costa Rica the chance to break with an overload but the centre-backs just about to manage to see out the danger. 1:12PM 13 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 FREE HEADER! What a miss! Oh my word. A short corner, the second cross gives Gonzalez a completely free header. Dreadful defending from Serbia - what were they doing there? Total chaos in the second phase of that set piece and Costa Rica should be 1-0 up. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Giancarlo González, 12 min) Gonzalez can't believe he's put that miles over the bar. 1:11PM 11 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Costa Rica are looking to use their pace to take on the full-backs. Ivanovic and Kolarov aren't the young men they once were but still have a bit speed left in the legs - Costa Rica look like they might have the running of them though. Costa Rica win a corner. 1:09PM 9 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are quick and break with three forwards. It's not quite coming together for them in the final third for now but they've been able to run with the ball in Serbia's half a couple of times now. 1:07PM 7 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mitrovic is causing problems with his strength upfront and Serbia are looking for him with long throws and chipped passes. Serbia attack through the middle, the ball drops to Kolarov and he tries a shot from 30 yards but pings it wide of goal. 1:05PM 5 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia get up the pitch and win another corner. Both teams are attacking quickly and it's already entertaining. Serbia can't get space in the area thanks to the close attentions of the Costa Rica defence and Kolarov fouls Gamboa while trying to win the second ball from the corner. Costa Rica go long. 1:03PM 3 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 But now Costa Rica are in! Urena gets in behind the defence after a Ruiz pass puts him there and he wins a corner! Mitrovic is back defending now and powers a header away from goal. Calvo joins in down the left and hooks a swinging cross into the area and GONZALEZ IS THERE! But his header is straight at the goalkeeper! What a start this is! 1:01PM 2 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia start with the ball and Mitrovic gets a touch inside the area within 30 seconds. Corner. If he'd controlled that properly he was in for a shot from about 10 yards! The corner comes in and it's headed at goal! Navas looks frantic as he hops onto his other foot... but the referee has spotted a foul. The sign of things to come? 1:00PM KICK OFF Here we go! 12:55PM National anthems 12:54PM Here come the players! Costa Rica will be a 5-4-1 and try to keep things tight and take advantage of counter-attack situations while Serbia will be a 4-2-3-1. The wing-backs will get forward, the defence will be protected by Matic and Milivojevic and Milinkovic-Savic will support Mitrovic throughout. 12:47PM Evra's wearing a tin foil hat Paul Pogba's goal against Australia has been taken away from him. It's an own goal now (because it is...) and Evra has just said he wishes people would leave Paul alone. "If it was Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo I wonder if they would take that goal away," he says. Perhaps he's preparing some sort of speech about jet fuel and steel beams for half time. Patrice Evra showing surprise and actually *clapping* Eni Aluko’s analysis... awful, patronising— Omar Chaudhuri (@OmarChaudhuri) June 17, 2018 12:45PM The warm-ups Credit: GETTY IMAGES The players are just finishing their warm-ups and soon they'll be out on the pitch ready to put on a spectacle. Kolarov was holding his knee for a bit of it but I'm not sure if he's picked up a knock or something during his little pre-match routine. Now, if you'd like to get updates sent to your phone on Whatsapp, sign up for this thing we have here: World Cup whatsapp promo It keeps you up to date with all the news and scores from the games. 12:39PM Take care of the ball and the ball will take care of you Vladimir Stojkovic �� Serbia’s goalkeeper kisses the ball after every save he makes! #SRB#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/JEjD9gYCu8— Kay Murray (@KayLMurray) June 17, 2018 12:38PM Evra is impressed by a woman knowing football "Wow I'm really impressed, she knows more about the game than us," says Evra, in a somewhat* patronising way to Eni Aluko. Do your research pal. ITV have been pretty good at getting their pundits well read before going on air to be fair. Aluko has been explaining what makes Milinkovic-Savic such a threat, detailing his ability to play with the ball at feet but that he's also great at attacking and will support Mitrovic throughout today's game. *incredibly. 12:33PM The current and ex-pros' opinions "They're a strong defensive team but they don't score a lot of goals," says Eni Aluko of Costa Rica. Henrik Larsson and Patrice Evra make up the rest of ITV's pundits bench today. That's a strong lineup. 12:27PM Ivanovic becomes Serbia's all-time most capped player Credit: FIFA Today is his 104th cap, so assuming nothing changes before kick-off he will become the most capped player in the history of Serbia, surpassing Dejan Stankovic. But the real question is how tall is he compared to Mel from Mel and Sue? At 6 feet tall that makes him 1.something Mels from Mel and Sue. 12:24PM Inside the dressing rooms Credit: FIFA Credit: FIFA 12:22PM Our lovely new columnist Cesc Fabregas has joined our writing team for the World Cup and his first couple of columns are already up on the website. You can read his thoughts on Raheem Sterling here. Cesc Fabregas column: England's Raheem Sterling can deliver on the biggest stage 12:17PM Star players to look out for Keylor Navas is by far and away the best player on this Costa Rica team and according to my handy Football Manager database app (their database is used as a scouting tool by top level clubs around the world...), with an average rating of 81 he's way ahead of Borges and Campbell, both rated at 69. Bryan Ruiz shares the same rating... and then everything goes a bit south from there. Serbia meanwhile have some of the most highly rated young players in the world. Predrag Rajkovic is on the bench but at a base level 67 is expected to be about an 85 at some point in his career. I realise some of you might think I'm talking nonsense using a video game's database but their hit rate and accuracy is awesome. Matic - 78, Milinkovic-Savic -78, Adem Ljajic - 72, Aleksandar Kolarov -73... I think you get the idea. If Serbia can work their way around the Costa Rica low block and avoid making any particularly silly mistakes, they should really win this. 12:06PM Those teams in written form Costa Rica (3-5-2 / 5-4-1) Navas, Gamboa, Acosta, González, Duarte, Calvo, Venegas, Guzmán, Borges, Ruiz, Ureña Serbia (4-2-3-1) Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Tosic, Milenkovic, Kolarov, Milinkovic-Savic, Milivojevic, Matic, Ljajic, Tadic, Mitrovic Got to think Serbia are missing a trick leaving all the Football Manager wonderkids out. Zivkovic and Rajkovic on the bench? What is this - amateur hour? pic.twitter.com/LiPrSQumMX— JJ Bull (@jj_bull) June 17, 2018 12:00PM Starting lineups 10 'ic' and one Kolarov: Who's ready for the first match of the day? Here are the teams for #CRCSRB ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/np2DCvEQ78— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 17, 2018 11:59AM The best kits World Cup kits ranked 11:47AM Where is today's game? Well that would be the Samara Arena of course: World Cup 2018 stadium: Samara Arena And as we all know [looks down at phone] it is is the sixth largest city in Russia. This is what the stadium looks like.: Credit: FIFA And the inside is even cooler: Credit: REUTERS 11:40AM Welcome! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for Costa Rica vs Serbia, a match which should be really entertaining and one I'm looking forward to. Yesterday was another brilliant day of World Cup football notable for featuring several high profile VAR moments - it seems like having that extra help has really allowed referees to make some attack-minded decisions and goals make games great. So what to expect today? Serbia have the better (arguably - and I will argue it) group of players with several wonderkids supplemented by hardworking others. Nemanja Matic can run the midfield, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is one of the hottest prospects in football and Dusan Tadic is guaranteed to create chances to score. “As far as this story about me lacking experience, I don’t have any problem because I am working with professional players who prove themselves in clubs across Europe,” their manager Mladen Krstajic said. “My conscience is clear because we are working really well and have been together for three weeks. These are things that make me happy. “We have to be focused, responsible. When I met my squad for the first time I said let's relax, be friends off the pitch, but when comes to matches, everyone has to be responsible.” Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players In the red corner, Costa Rica aren't quite so strong but do have Keylor Navas in goal. You know, the Real Madrid guy. Yeh, him. Other than that, Arsenal's eternally nomadic loanee Joel Campbell is perhaps their best bet of getting a result with Celso Borges the most likely to set someone up for a goal. They didn't impress at all in defeat to England recently and were hammered by Belgium too - today is a massive test. Team news should be with us soon and I'll endeavour to bring you that as well as all the build-up and then analysis of the live action. Stick around to join in the fun.
Aleksandar Kolarov produced a ­moment of captain’s inspiration, curling home a superb free-kick as Serbia got their Group E campaign up and running on Sunday. The former Manchester City full-back had appeared to be injured in the warm-up but recovered to curl in the winner against Costa Rica. Serbia had dominated the match but chances were at a premium 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 lifted a weight from coach Mladen Krstajic, in what was his first competitive game. “There was a great deal of pressure on the team, and on me, over the past seven months,” said Krstajic, who took the job in October. Krstajic’s relief was matched in equal measure by the disappointment of Oscar Ramirez, the Costa Rica manager, whose side are now in a precarious position. “Maybe we have lost a certain margin for qualifying,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult, but our intention remains the same. I told the lads ‘This isn’t over’.” Aleksandar Kolarov struck a wonderful free-kick to win all three points for Serbia Credit: REUTERS If Costa Rica are going to recover, they will need to rediscover the defensive organisation and clinical counter-attacks that propelled them to the quarter-finals four years ago. Serbia found it hard to break them down, but they rarely looked troubled at the back and, barring a late half-chance for substitute Joel Campbell, they coasted through the game. The match began in furious ­fashion, with Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic having a header scooped off the line and Costa Rica’s Giancarlo Gonzalez failing to convert two headed chances. But it soon 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. Mitrovic failed to find the net with a good chance early in the second half, but it mattered little when Kolarov, the AS Roma left-back, produced his moment of magic, curling a free kick, left-footed, over the wall and past the despairing dive of Navas. “It is great to have three points, but we are not finished. I don’t want to do the maths yet,” Kolarov said. Match details Costa Rica (3-4-3): Navas (Real Madrid) 7; Gamboa (Celtic) 6, Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas) 6, Gonzalez (Bologna) 6; Duarte (Espanyol) 6, Calvo (Minnesota) 7, Venegas (Saprissa) 6, Guzman (Portland) 6; Borges (Coruna) 6, Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon) 6, Urena (Los Angeles) 5. Subs: Campbell (Arsenal) for Urena 73, Bolanos (Saprissa) for Venegas 60, Colindres (Saprissa) for Guzman 73. Booked: Guzman, Calvo. Serbia (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic (Partizan) 6; Ivanovic (Zenit) 6, Tosic (Besiktas) 6, Milenkovic (Fiorentina) 6, Kolarov (Roma) 7; Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) 8, Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) 6; Matic (Man Utd) 6, Ljajic (Torino) 7, Tadic (Southampton) 6; Mitrovic (Newcastle) 6. Subs: Kostic (Hamburg) for Ljajic 70, Rukavina (Villarreal) for Tadic 83, Prijovic (PAOK) for Mitrovic 90. Booked: Prijovic. Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal). 3:08PM Some full-time stats for you After losing five consecutive World Cup games between 1998 and 2010, Serbia have since won two of their last three in the competition (L1). Serbia have won their opening game at a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1998, when they did so as Yugoslavia against Iran (1-0). Serbia have now won all four of their World Cup games against teams from the CONCACAF region, with the first three of those coming as Yugoslavia between 1950 and 1998. Costa Rica suffered their first defeat at the World Cup since 2006 (1-2 v Poland), ending a run of five games unbeaten in the competition (W2 D3). And my favourite of all: Aleksandar Kolarov’s goal for Serbia was the third direct free-kick scored at this year’s World Cup (after Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo), which is already as many as there were in the entire 2014 tournament in Brazil. 3:05PM Next up It's Germany vs Mexico! Join Alan Tyers in our World Cup liveblog as he brings you the team news, updates and analysis from the match. 3:05PM The referee separating the players Credit: GETTY IMAGES This is that little rammy towards the end when Matic went nuts. It looks like the Costa Rica nine, Colindres, puts a full on slap on a Serbia player. Could be a red card, might not. I'd argue that the players are just getting fired up late on - if it had been earlier in the game then it would have been in the ref's interests to sort things out further. 3:02PM Who stood out there then? Let's do some player ratings. Costa Rica (3-4-3 / 5-4-1) Navas 7, Gamboa 6, Acosta 6, González 6, Duarte 6, Calvo 7, Venegas 6, Guzmán 6, Borges 6, Ruiz 6, Ureña 5 Serbia (4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2) Stojkovic 6, Ivanovic 6, Tosic 6, Milenkovic 6, Kolarov 7, Milinkovic-Savic 8, Milivojevic 6, Matic 6, Ljajic 6, Tadic 7, Mitrovic 5 2:58PM Analysis Average touch positions (full time) A game of one half. Specifically the right for Serbia and left for Costa Rica. Passes kept going down the one side of the pitch. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:55PM FULL TIME Credit: AFP And that's it! Serbia get a deserved win against a spirited Costa Rica. Kolarov's free-kick was a thing of wonder and has won the points. 2:54PM 90 mins +7 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 More controversy here. Prijovic has caught someone off the ball with his forearm and Acosta throws himself to the floor. Is this a red card? The VAR is in use! Aaaaand it's a yellow card. Another good decision (IMO). 2:52PM 90 mins +5 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 VAR time! The referee is reviewing that decision! He wants to see if Matic should be in more trouble... but the VAR says no. Seems fair. Costa Rica keep coming... the ball is hooked in, headed down IT'S A CHANCE FOR BOLANOS! And he's missed from six yards! Thankfully, the linesman calls offside and he is miles ahead of the last man. What a miss though. Dreadful finish. 2:50PM 90 mins +4 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 That's poor from the substitute Rukavina. He loses possession then doesn't try to win it back but now Serbia are on the counter-attack, with men over! And the ball's been lost. And now Matic is involved with the bench! He's getting all fired up needlessly with the Costa Rica staff. 2:49PM 90 mins +3 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick 40 yards out, hit it in the area and it;s headed away. Gamboa goes for a distance wondergoal but his long range effort is saved by the goalkeeper easily. 2:47PM 90 mins +1 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 M-Savic has had a superb game. His timing of pass and movement off the ball is excellent. Serbia take Mitrovic off for Prijovic. Serbia come forward again - they have men over! Kostic spots the chance to shoot but blasts over the bar. So many players have been jumping their shots miles over. Practise required. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Filip Kostic, 90 min) 2:45PM 89 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 MITROVIC IS IN AGAIN! And he's wasted the chance again! Oh my word. He's so very nearly a great player - gets in the right positions, is strong but his finishing isn't all that. And here he gets into the box, slows down to wait for the ball to roll ahead of his body and the Costa Rica defender goes down. Mitrovic goes down too but I suspect that's more a problem of balance than an actual foul. No VAR for this incident. 2:43PM 87 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Stojkovic gets someone to help him tie his shoelaces. Cunning time-wasting tactic? Or cruel window into a life spent never learning to tie shoelaces? Only he really knows. 2:41PM 85 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica are now focusing most of their play down the right, targeting Kolarov. Nothing's coming off at the moment now, they're running out of ideas. 2:39PM 82 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell's been lively since coming on but you can kind of tell he's not played much recently. A half yard off the pace on the ball has given Serbia defenders opportunity to rob him of possession. Rukavina comes on for Tadic, which is almost certainly to give Ivanovic back-up at right-back. It might mean a 5-4-1 for Serbia. 2:36PM 80 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell tries to work space for a shot on the edge of the area but is blocked. M-Savic pulls off another beautiful bit of skill to take the ball round the outside of a midfielder and puts Serbia on the attack. They're starting to look a little tired now... 2:35PM 78 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: TASS Ooooh that should be 2-0. Tadic gets in behind on the right and squares the pass into the six yard box. Navas dives at it, gets a tiny flick on it and Kostic has a side foot to finish in an empty net. He gets it all wrong though and the net is unharmed. 2:32PM 76 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Colindres comes on for Guzman, which means Costa Rica have used all their substitutions up. Serbia fire some passes together and link well. M-Savic has the chance to shoot 25 yards out, takes the chance but balloons his effort way over the bar. 2:30PM 74 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell is in behind! There's a lucky deflection and Campbell gets ahead of Milenkovic but just isn't sharp enough to beat him to the ball and get a shot away. Corner. The goalie comes to get the cross but is nowhere near it. Like someone's thrown a scarecrow into the air at the ball. Serbia survive and Mitrovic shields the ball high up the pitch. 2:29PM 72 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica free-kick wide left... Campbell takes it and a Serbian head puts it clear. Kostic tries to break but the ball goes out of play, Serbia go back to their 4-4-1-1 shape and get behind the ball. 2:27PM 70 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell goes on a little dribble into the box but Ljajic puts in a great tackle and wins the ball. Costa Rica in a clear 3-4-3 now and making much snappier passes. Now Serbia are taking their turn to defend with blocks of four. Ljajic comes off for Kostic. 2:24PM 68 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Here comes Joel Campbell! Urena heads off. Look at the difference in possession now! Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:22PM 66 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES What a photo that is! The ball smashing into the back of the net from Kolarov's free-kick. Serbia have dropped really deep now they're 1-0 up... I wonder whether the best form of defence might actually be attacking Costa Rica more. They're inviting trouble like this. 2:20PM 64 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 1 - Kolarov has been the first Serbian player to score from direct free kick at the WC since Sinisa Mihajlovic v Iran on 14 June 1998 (including Yugoslavia). Southpaw. pic.twitter.com/yLePjJ0cmn— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 17, 2018 Costa Rica taking the game to Serbia now and Serbia are dropping further and further back. 2:18PM 62 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick in the final third but Serbia defend deep and head away. Costa Rica trying to get back into the game straight away. You're at your most vulnerable just after scoring goes the old saying. 2:16PM 60 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Serbia have the momentum now. Ljajic makes a run ahead of the defence and just can't get on the end of a chipped pass from Tadic. Will Costa Rica come out of their defensive shell now? 2:13PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! WHAT A HIT! KOLAVOC HAS SCORED! Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Aleksandar Kolarov, 56 min) Navas had absolutely no chance! It's a perfect free-kick, curled over the wall with power into the top corner. Goal: Serbia ( 56 min ) Unstoppable. 2:13PM 56 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win another free-kick in a dangerous area. Kolarov can shoot from here and seems to be lining one up. 2:12PM 55 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic gets a head on the ball as Duarte grabs hold of him in full view of the referee. Consistency in refereeing? There's not an awful lot of difference between that incident and the one yesterday that resulted in a penalty for Argentina. 2:11PM 54 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia enjoying more of the ball here. Kolarov curls a cross to the box and wins a corner as Calvo heads away at the back post. The referee has to sort out some pushing and pulling in the area. 2:09PM 52 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia are stretching the pitch and attacking through the middle more now. Although another cross from wide is collected from Navas. 2:08PM 50 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 HUGE MISS! Mitrovic breaks the offside trap, is one on one with Navas and his shot is terrible. Navas saves well but Mitrovic has to score there. What a massive moment that could prove to be. 2:07PM 49 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are on the right (light blue), Serbia the left (dark blue). 2:03PM 47 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic comes back to help out Ivanovic early on as Bryan Ruiz skins him on the left wing. No change of tactic here then. 2:02PM KICK-OFF 2 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica start the second half. We're back! 2:00PM Next up World Cup 2018 tactics: Why Germany's goalkeeper is key to how they attack Don't forget that after this game is Germany vs Mexico! You can join Alan Tyers in our liveblog coverage of that once this match is over. And not a moment sooner! Don't leave me. Please. 1:57PM Serbia's strikers Check the starting position of Milinkovic-Savic in possession. He's a central striker! Patrice Evra on him being linked with Man Utd: "You need to be a character, a personality. I'm afraid now you miss players playing for the passion. If you said 20 years ago Patrice you play for Manchester United and you don't even get paid, you do it." Doesn't really answer the question but I think I know what I mean. At least he hasn't literally applauded Aluko's football knowledge with this answer. 1:49PM Serbia's very attacking average positions That's a 2-4-4! Love it. Average touch positions (42 min) Look at the near-comical focus on one particular side of the pitch. Poor Ivanovic, he'll be knackered at the end of this. 1:47PM HALF TIME - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Thoroughly entertaining stuff there. Costa Rica targeting Ivanovic down the left and relying on quick counter-attacks, while Serbia have done well without really taking advantage of all their possession. Where there's Mitrovic there's a chance and Milinkovic-Savic has turned up in dangerous areas too. I can see a goal or two in the second half. 1:46PM 45 mins +1 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Borges should be booked for pulling Ljajic back just as he was about to get Serbia moving in the Costa Rica half... but Mitrovic is penalised for a tiny nudge on the back of Gonzalez. 1:44PM 44 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 MILINKOVIC-SAVIC BICYLE KICK! Saved by Navas! Wow. That would have been something else! Ivanovic chips into the box, the Lazio man goes for the spectacular, the linesman says he's offside. He isn't, so that goal would have counted if it had gone in. 1:42PM 42 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are enjoying the ball for a while. They've been on the back foot for quite a lot of the game so far, though this possession stat feels like it's way off. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia Calvo cuts inside from the left once more and tries a shot on his right foot... but drags it wide of the near post. Out: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Francisco Calvo, 42 min) 1:40PM 40 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ohhhh there's a slip in the Serbia defence by Tosic and it's given Costa Rica a chance to shoot. Urena takes it... but that's miles away. Calvo then wins a corner off Ivanovic, who isn't being given any peace. 1:37PM 38 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Both players appear OK to continue after a pause in play. What a collision that was though. Like a train battering into... another train. Or a Costa Rica defender. Anyway, they're alright. 1:35PM 36 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic wins a free-kick right in the corner. The big lads come up for the set piece, which Kolarov will whip in as in in-swinger. Navas Superman throws himself at it and punches away and then Tosic batters into Acosta while going for a header and both are in a lot of pain. 1:34PM 34 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ivanovic over-hits an early cross from wide right and puts it out for a goal kick. Costa Rica have been impressive with how they stop Serbia's build-up play. By blocking the passing option, Serbia don't really have anywhere to go other than long but are trying to keep the ball in defence until an opportunity to get forward opens up. 1:30PM 31 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are blocking the Serbian passing lanes with three forwards and two midfielders behind them, and it's forcing the defenders to really think about where they move the ball so as not to concede possession in a dangerous counter-attacking area. Once the ball is past the halfway line Costa Rica are a 5-4-1... Serbia need another option. And there it is - the chipped pass to Mitrovic. 1:28PM 29 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Bit chance! Super run off the ball by Milinkovic-Savic but he doesn't get the ball out of his feet as a pass over the top puts him through on goal. A low shot is saved easily by Navas but the offside flag had one anyway. He gets away with that miss. 1:26PM 27 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great take by Tadic. The pass is fired straight at him at pace and he controls and flicks the ball on to keep a move going. It just won't drop for Mitrovic in the area and his shot is blocked. 1:24PM 25 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: AFP Serbia are focusing their attacks through the middle then moving play out to the right wing once in the final third. Costa Rica survive another decent move but Serbia are back in possession. You can see they're favouring that right wing here: Serbia crosses Calvo is the left wing-back and is on a yellow card now too. 1:22PM 23 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica get in down the left again though and... that's a shocking tackle. He doesn't mean to go in as heavy as he does but Calvo is rightly booked for a late slide tackle near the corner on Tadic. That's the sort of challenge you put in for a laugh on Pro Evo. 1:21PM 21 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia switch the play a couple of times but Costa Rica look organised and shift over to deny the space and win possession back. Serbia are getting Tadic deeper with Matic helping out on the right now to make sure Ivanovic isn't exposed. 1:19PM 19 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win a free-kick about 35 yards from goal and this will be aimed towards Mitrovic. The referee has to tell Guzman to stand further back from the kick but doesn't book him. The ball goes in, is headed at the back post... and Costa Rica manage to get it away then drop into their low block. 1:16PM 17 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great save by Navas! Serbia have men over, Ivanovic overlaps down the right and dribbles past his man but Navas blocks the low cross into the area. Serbia might be in again! Tadic chips to the back post for Mitrovic but nobody is following up. Milinkovic-Savic has had a couple of lovely touches in the approach play to both those moves. 1:14PM 15 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic receives the ball on the edge of the box, moves it onto his right foot and shoots but the effort is blocked and Navas catches. Costa Rica attack down the left wing again - they're targeting Ivanovic at right-back. Serbia look ropey at the back here. A dreadful pass forward has nearly gifted Costa Rica the chance to break with an overload but the centre-backs just about to manage to see out the danger. 1:12PM 13 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 FREE HEADER! What a miss! Oh my word. A short corner, the second cross gives Gonzalez a completely free header. Dreadful defending from Serbia - what were they doing there? Total chaos in the second phase of that set piece and Costa Rica should be 1-0 up. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Giancarlo González, 12 min) Gonzalez can't believe he's put that miles over the bar. 1:11PM 11 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Costa Rica are looking to use their pace to take on the full-backs. Ivanovic and Kolarov aren't the young men they once were but still have a bit speed left in the legs - Costa Rica look like they might have the running of them though. Costa Rica win a corner. 1:09PM 9 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are quick and break with three forwards. It's not quite coming together for them in the final third for now but they've been able to run with the ball in Serbia's half a couple of times now. 1:07PM 7 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mitrovic is causing problems with his strength upfront and Serbia are looking for him with long throws and chipped passes. Serbia attack through the middle, the ball drops to Kolarov and he tries a shot from 30 yards but pings it wide of goal. 1:05PM 5 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia get up the pitch and win another corner. Both teams are attacking quickly and it's already entertaining. Serbia can't get space in the area thanks to the close attentions of the Costa Rica defence and Kolarov fouls Gamboa while trying to win the second ball from the corner. Costa Rica go long. 1:03PM 3 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 But now Costa Rica are in! Urena gets in behind the defence after a Ruiz pass puts him there and he wins a corner! Mitrovic is back defending now and powers a header away from goal. Calvo joins in down the left and hooks a swinging cross into the area and GONZALEZ IS THERE! But his header is straight at the goalkeeper! What a start this is! 1:01PM 2 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia start with the ball and Mitrovic gets a touch inside the area within 30 seconds. Corner. If he'd controlled that properly he was in for a shot from about 10 yards! The corner comes in and it's headed at goal! Navas looks frantic as he hops onto his other foot... but the referee has spotted a foul. The sign of things to come? 1:00PM KICK OFF Here we go! 12:55PM National anthems 12:54PM Here come the players! Costa Rica will be a 5-4-1 and try to keep things tight and take advantage of counter-attack situations while Serbia will be a 4-2-3-1. The wing-backs will get forward, the defence will be protected by Matic and Milivojevic and Milinkovic-Savic will support Mitrovic throughout. 12:47PM Evra's wearing a tin foil hat Paul Pogba's goal against Australia has been taken away from him. It's an own goal now (because it is...) and Evra has just said he wishes people would leave Paul alone. "If it was Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo I wonder if they would take that goal away," he says. Perhaps he's preparing some sort of speech about jet fuel and steel beams for half time. Patrice Evra showing surprise and actually *clapping* Eni Aluko’s analysis... awful, patronising— Omar Chaudhuri (@OmarChaudhuri) June 17, 2018 12:45PM The warm-ups Credit: GETTY IMAGES The players are just finishing their warm-ups and soon they'll be out on the pitch ready to put on a spectacle. Kolarov was holding his knee for a bit of it but I'm not sure if he's picked up a knock or something during his little pre-match routine. Now, if you'd like to get updates sent to your phone on Whatsapp, sign up for this thing we have here: World Cup whatsapp promo It keeps you up to date with all the news and scores from the games. 12:39PM Take care of the ball and the ball will take care of you Vladimir Stojkovic �� Serbia’s goalkeeper kisses the ball after every save he makes! #SRB#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/JEjD9gYCu8— Kay Murray (@KayLMurray) June 17, 2018 12:38PM Evra is impressed by a woman knowing football "Wow I'm really impressed, she knows more about the game than us," says Evra, in a somewhat* patronising way to Eni Aluko. Do your research pal. ITV have been pretty good at getting their pundits well read before going on air to be fair. Aluko has been explaining what makes Milinkovic-Savic such a threat, detailing his ability to play with the ball at feet but that he's also great at attacking and will support Mitrovic throughout today's game. *incredibly. 12:33PM The current and ex-pros' opinions "They're a strong defensive team but they don't score a lot of goals," says Eni Aluko of Costa Rica. Henrik Larsson and Patrice Evra make up the rest of ITV's pundits bench today. That's a strong lineup. 12:27PM Ivanovic becomes Serbia's all-time most capped player Credit: FIFA Today is his 104th cap, so assuming nothing changes before kick-off he will become the most capped player in the history of Serbia, surpassing Dejan Stankovic. But the real question is how tall is he compared to Mel from Mel and Sue? At 6 feet tall that makes him 1.something Mels from Mel and Sue. 12:24PM Inside the dressing rooms Credit: FIFA Credit: FIFA 12:22PM Our lovely new columnist Cesc Fabregas has joined our writing team for the World Cup and his first couple of columns are already up on the website. You can read his thoughts on Raheem Sterling here. Cesc Fabregas column: England's Raheem Sterling can deliver on the biggest stage 12:17PM Star players to look out for Keylor Navas is by far and away the best player on this Costa Rica team and according to my handy Football Manager database app (their database is used as a scouting tool by top level clubs around the world...), with an average rating of 81 he's way ahead of Borges and Campbell, both rated at 69. Bryan Ruiz shares the same rating... and then everything goes a bit south from there. Serbia meanwhile have some of the most highly rated young players in the world. Predrag Rajkovic is on the bench but at a base level 67 is expected to be about an 85 at some point in his career. I realise some of you might think I'm talking nonsense using a video game's database but their hit rate and accuracy is awesome. Matic - 78, Milinkovic-Savic -78, Adem Ljajic - 72, Aleksandar Kolarov -73... I think you get the idea. If Serbia can work their way around the Costa Rica low block and avoid making any particularly silly mistakes, they should really win this. 12:06PM Those teams in written form Costa Rica (3-5-2 / 5-4-1) Navas, Gamboa, Acosta, González, Duarte, Calvo, Venegas, Guzmán, Borges, Ruiz, Ureña Serbia (4-2-3-1) Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Tosic, Milenkovic, Kolarov, Milinkovic-Savic, Milivojevic, Matic, Ljajic, Tadic, Mitrovic Got to think Serbia are missing a trick leaving all the Football Manager wonderkids out. Zivkovic and Rajkovic on the bench? What is this - amateur hour? pic.twitter.com/LiPrSQumMX— JJ Bull (@jj_bull) June 17, 2018 12:00PM Starting lineups 10 'ic' and one Kolarov: Who's ready for the first match of the day? Here are the teams for #CRCSRB ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/np2DCvEQ78— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 17, 2018 11:59AM The best kits World Cup kits ranked 11:47AM Where is today's game? Well that would be the Samara Arena of course: World Cup 2018 stadium: Samara Arena And as we all know [looks down at phone] it is is the sixth largest city in Russia. This is what the stadium looks like.: Credit: FIFA And the inside is even cooler: Credit: REUTERS 11:40AM Welcome! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for Costa Rica vs Serbia, a match which should be really entertaining and one I'm looking forward to. Yesterday was another brilliant day of World Cup football notable for featuring several high profile VAR moments - it seems like having that extra help has really allowed referees to make some attack-minded decisions and goals make games great. So what to expect today? Serbia have the better (arguably - and I will argue it) group of players with several wonderkids supplemented by hardworking others. Nemanja Matic can run the midfield, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is one of the hottest prospects in football and Dusan Tadic is guaranteed to create chances to score. “As far as this story about me lacking experience, I don’t have any problem because I am working with professional players who prove themselves in clubs across Europe,” their manager Mladen Krstajic said. “My conscience is clear because we are working really well and have been together for three weeks. These are things that make me happy. “We have to be focused, responsible. When I met my squad for the first time I said let's relax, be friends off the pitch, but when comes to matches, everyone has to be responsible.” Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players In the red corner, Costa Rica aren't quite so strong but do have Keylor Navas in goal. You know, the Real Madrid guy. Yeh, him. Other than that, Arsenal's eternally nomadic loanee Joel Campbell is perhaps their best bet of getting a result with Celso Borges the most likely to set someone up for a goal. They didn't impress at all in defeat to England recently and were hammered by Belgium too - today is a massive test. Team news should be with us soon and I'll endeavour to bring you that as well as all the build-up and then analysis of the live action. Stick around to join in the fun.
Aleksandar Kolarov scores sensational free-kick as Serbia claim hard-fought World Cup 2018 win against Costa Rica
Aleksandar Kolarov produced a ­moment of captain’s inspiration, curling home a superb free-kick as Serbia got their Group E campaign up and running on Sunday. The former Manchester City full-back had appeared to be injured in the warm-up but recovered to curl in the winner against Costa Rica. Serbia had dominated the match but chances were at a premium 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 lifted a weight from coach Mladen Krstajic, in what was his first competitive game. “There was a great deal of pressure on the team, and on me, over the past seven months,” said Krstajic, who took the job in October. Krstajic’s relief was matched in equal measure by the disappointment of Oscar Ramirez, the Costa Rica manager, whose side are now in a precarious position. “Maybe we have lost a certain margin for qualifying,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult, but our intention remains the same. I told the lads ‘This isn’t over’.” Aleksandar Kolarov struck a wonderful free-kick to win all three points for Serbia Credit: REUTERS If Costa Rica are going to recover, they will need to rediscover the defensive organisation and clinical counter-attacks that propelled them to the quarter-finals four years ago. Serbia found it hard to break them down, but they rarely looked troubled at the back and, barring a late half-chance for substitute Joel Campbell, they coasted through the game. The match began in furious ­fashion, with Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic having a header scooped off the line and Costa Rica’s Giancarlo Gonzalez failing to convert two headed chances. But it soon 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. Mitrovic failed to find the net with a good chance early in the second half, but it mattered little when Kolarov, the AS Roma left-back, produced his moment of magic, curling a free kick, left-footed, over the wall and past the despairing dive of Navas. “It is great to have three points, but we are not finished. I don’t want to do the maths yet,” Kolarov said. Match details Costa Rica (3-4-3): Navas (Real Madrid) 7; Gamboa (Celtic) 6, Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas) 6, Gonzalez (Bologna) 6; Duarte (Espanyol) 6, Calvo (Minnesota) 7, Venegas (Saprissa) 6, Guzman (Portland) 6; Borges (Coruna) 6, Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon) 6, Urena (Los Angeles) 5. Subs: Campbell (Arsenal) for Urena 73, Bolanos (Saprissa) for Venegas 60, Colindres (Saprissa) for Guzman 73. Booked: Guzman, Calvo. Serbia (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic (Partizan) 6; Ivanovic (Zenit) 6, Tosic (Besiktas) 6, Milenkovic (Fiorentina) 6, Kolarov (Roma) 7; Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) 8, Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) 6; Matic (Man Utd) 6, Ljajic (Torino) 7, Tadic (Southampton) 6; Mitrovic (Newcastle) 6. Subs: Kostic (Hamburg) for Ljajic 70, Rukavina (Villarreal) for Tadic 83, Prijovic (PAOK) for Mitrovic 90. Booked: Prijovic. Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal). 3:08PM Some full-time stats for you After losing five consecutive World Cup games between 1998 and 2010, Serbia have since won two of their last three in the competition (L1). Serbia have won their opening game at a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1998, when they did so as Yugoslavia against Iran (1-0). Serbia have now won all four of their World Cup games against teams from the CONCACAF region, with the first three of those coming as Yugoslavia between 1950 and 1998. Costa Rica suffered their first defeat at the World Cup since 2006 (1-2 v Poland), ending a run of five games unbeaten in the competition (W2 D3). And my favourite of all: Aleksandar Kolarov’s goal for Serbia was the third direct free-kick scored at this year’s World Cup (after Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo), which is already as many as there were in the entire 2014 tournament in Brazil. 3:05PM Next up It's Germany vs Mexico! Join Alan Tyers in our World Cup liveblog as he brings you the team news, updates and analysis from the match. 3:05PM The referee separating the players Credit: GETTY IMAGES This is that little rammy towards the end when Matic went nuts. It looks like the Costa Rica nine, Colindres, puts a full on slap on a Serbia player. Could be a red card, might not. I'd argue that the players are just getting fired up late on - if it had been earlier in the game then it would have been in the ref's interests to sort things out further. 3:02PM Who stood out there then? Let's do some player ratings. Costa Rica (3-4-3 / 5-4-1) Navas 7, Gamboa 6, Acosta 6, González 6, Duarte 6, Calvo 7, Venegas 6, Guzmán 6, Borges 6, Ruiz 6, Ureña 5 Serbia (4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2) Stojkovic 6, Ivanovic 6, Tosic 6, Milenkovic 6, Kolarov 7, Milinkovic-Savic 8, Milivojevic 6, Matic 6, Ljajic 6, Tadic 7, Mitrovic 5 2:58PM Analysis Average touch positions (full time) A game of one half. Specifically the right for Serbia and left for Costa Rica. Passes kept going down the one side of the pitch. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:55PM FULL TIME Credit: AFP And that's it! Serbia get a deserved win against a spirited Costa Rica. Kolarov's free-kick was a thing of wonder and has won the points. 2:54PM 90 mins +7 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 More controversy here. Prijovic has caught someone off the ball with his forearm and Acosta throws himself to the floor. Is this a red card? The VAR is in use! Aaaaand it's a yellow card. Another good decision (IMO). 2:52PM 90 mins +5 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 VAR time! The referee is reviewing that decision! He wants to see if Matic should be in more trouble... but the VAR says no. Seems fair. Costa Rica keep coming... the ball is hooked in, headed down IT'S A CHANCE FOR BOLANOS! And he's missed from six yards! Thankfully, the linesman calls offside and he is miles ahead of the last man. What a miss though. Dreadful finish. 2:50PM 90 mins +4 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 That's poor from the substitute Rukavina. He loses possession then doesn't try to win it back but now Serbia are on the counter-attack, with men over! And the ball's been lost. And now Matic is involved with the bench! He's getting all fired up needlessly with the Costa Rica staff. 2:49PM 90 mins +3 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick 40 yards out, hit it in the area and it;s headed away. Gamboa goes for a distance wondergoal but his long range effort is saved by the goalkeeper easily. 2:47PM 90 mins +1 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 M-Savic has had a superb game. His timing of pass and movement off the ball is excellent. Serbia take Mitrovic off for Prijovic. Serbia come forward again - they have men over! Kostic spots the chance to shoot but blasts over the bar. So many players have been jumping their shots miles over. Practise required. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Filip Kostic, 90 min) 2:45PM 89 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 MITROVIC IS IN AGAIN! And he's wasted the chance again! Oh my word. He's so very nearly a great player - gets in the right positions, is strong but his finishing isn't all that. And here he gets into the box, slows down to wait for the ball to roll ahead of his body and the Costa Rica defender goes down. Mitrovic goes down too but I suspect that's more a problem of balance than an actual foul. No VAR for this incident. 2:43PM 87 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Stojkovic gets someone to help him tie his shoelaces. Cunning time-wasting tactic? Or cruel window into a life spent never learning to tie shoelaces? Only he really knows. 2:41PM 85 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica are now focusing most of their play down the right, targeting Kolarov. Nothing's coming off at the moment now, they're running out of ideas. 2:39PM 82 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell's been lively since coming on but you can kind of tell he's not played much recently. A half yard off the pace on the ball has given Serbia defenders opportunity to rob him of possession. Rukavina comes on for Tadic, which is almost certainly to give Ivanovic back-up at right-back. It might mean a 5-4-1 for Serbia. 2:36PM 80 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell tries to work space for a shot on the edge of the area but is blocked. M-Savic pulls off another beautiful bit of skill to take the ball round the outside of a midfielder and puts Serbia on the attack. They're starting to look a little tired now... 2:35PM 78 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: TASS Ooooh that should be 2-0. Tadic gets in behind on the right and squares the pass into the six yard box. Navas dives at it, gets a tiny flick on it and Kostic has a side foot to finish in an empty net. He gets it all wrong though and the net is unharmed. 2:32PM 76 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Colindres comes on for Guzman, which means Costa Rica have used all their substitutions up. Serbia fire some passes together and link well. M-Savic has the chance to shoot 25 yards out, takes the chance but balloons his effort way over the bar. 2:30PM 74 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell is in behind! There's a lucky deflection and Campbell gets ahead of Milenkovic but just isn't sharp enough to beat him to the ball and get a shot away. Corner. The goalie comes to get the cross but is nowhere near it. Like someone's thrown a scarecrow into the air at the ball. Serbia survive and Mitrovic shields the ball high up the pitch. 2:29PM 72 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica free-kick wide left... Campbell takes it and a Serbian head puts it clear. Kostic tries to break but the ball goes out of play, Serbia go back to their 4-4-1-1 shape and get behind the ball. 2:27PM 70 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell goes on a little dribble into the box but Ljajic puts in a great tackle and wins the ball. Costa Rica in a clear 3-4-3 now and making much snappier passes. Now Serbia are taking their turn to defend with blocks of four. Ljajic comes off for Kostic. 2:24PM 68 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Here comes Joel Campbell! Urena heads off. Look at the difference in possession now! Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:22PM 66 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES What a photo that is! The ball smashing into the back of the net from Kolarov's free-kick. Serbia have dropped really deep now they're 1-0 up... I wonder whether the best form of defence might actually be attacking Costa Rica more. They're inviting trouble like this. 2:20PM 64 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 1 - Kolarov has been the first Serbian player to score from direct free kick at the WC since Sinisa Mihajlovic v Iran on 14 June 1998 (including Yugoslavia). Southpaw. pic.twitter.com/yLePjJ0cmn— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 17, 2018 Costa Rica taking the game to Serbia now and Serbia are dropping further and further back. 2:18PM 62 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick in the final third but Serbia defend deep and head away. Costa Rica trying to get back into the game straight away. You're at your most vulnerable just after scoring goes the old saying. 2:16PM 60 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Serbia have the momentum now. Ljajic makes a run ahead of the defence and just can't get on the end of a chipped pass from Tadic. Will Costa Rica come out of their defensive shell now? 2:13PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! WHAT A HIT! KOLAVOC HAS SCORED! Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Aleksandar Kolarov, 56 min) Navas had absolutely no chance! It's a perfect free-kick, curled over the wall with power into the top corner. Goal: Serbia ( 56 min ) Unstoppable. 2:13PM 56 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win another free-kick in a dangerous area. Kolarov can shoot from here and seems to be lining one up. 2:12PM 55 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic gets a head on the ball as Duarte grabs hold of him in full view of the referee. Consistency in refereeing? There's not an awful lot of difference between that incident and the one yesterday that resulted in a penalty for Argentina. 2:11PM 54 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia enjoying more of the ball here. Kolarov curls a cross to the box and wins a corner as Calvo heads away at the back post. The referee has to sort out some pushing and pulling in the area. 2:09PM 52 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia are stretching the pitch and attacking through the middle more now. Although another cross from wide is collected from Navas. 2:08PM 50 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 HUGE MISS! Mitrovic breaks the offside trap, is one on one with Navas and his shot is terrible. Navas saves well but Mitrovic has to score there. What a massive moment that could prove to be. 2:07PM 49 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are on the right (light blue), Serbia the left (dark blue). 2:03PM 47 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic comes back to help out Ivanovic early on as Bryan Ruiz skins him on the left wing. No change of tactic here then. 2:02PM KICK-OFF 2 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica start the second half. We're back! 2:00PM Next up World Cup 2018 tactics: Why Germany's goalkeeper is key to how they attack Don't forget that after this game is Germany vs Mexico! You can join Alan Tyers in our liveblog coverage of that once this match is over. And not a moment sooner! Don't leave me. Please. 1:57PM Serbia's strikers Check the starting position of Milinkovic-Savic in possession. He's a central striker! Patrice Evra on him being linked with Man Utd: "You need to be a character, a personality. I'm afraid now you miss players playing for the passion. If you said 20 years ago Patrice you play for Manchester United and you don't even get paid, you do it." Doesn't really answer the question but I think I know what I mean. At least he hasn't literally applauded Aluko's football knowledge with this answer. 1:49PM Serbia's very attacking average positions That's a 2-4-4! Love it. Average touch positions (42 min) Look at the near-comical focus on one particular side of the pitch. Poor Ivanovic, he'll be knackered at the end of this. 1:47PM HALF TIME - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Thoroughly entertaining stuff there. Costa Rica targeting Ivanovic down the left and relying on quick counter-attacks, while Serbia have done well without really taking advantage of all their possession. Where there's Mitrovic there's a chance and Milinkovic-Savic has turned up in dangerous areas too. I can see a goal or two in the second half. 1:46PM 45 mins +1 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Borges should be booked for pulling Ljajic back just as he was about to get Serbia moving in the Costa Rica half... but Mitrovic is penalised for a tiny nudge on the back of Gonzalez. 1:44PM 44 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 MILINKOVIC-SAVIC BICYLE KICK! Saved by Navas! Wow. That would have been something else! Ivanovic chips into the box, the Lazio man goes for the spectacular, the linesman says he's offside. He isn't, so that goal would have counted if it had gone in. 1:42PM 42 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are enjoying the ball for a while. They've been on the back foot for quite a lot of the game so far, though this possession stat feels like it's way off. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia Calvo cuts inside from the left once more and tries a shot on his right foot... but drags it wide of the near post. Out: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Francisco Calvo, 42 min) 1:40PM 40 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ohhhh there's a slip in the Serbia defence by Tosic and it's given Costa Rica a chance to shoot. Urena takes it... but that's miles away. Calvo then wins a corner off Ivanovic, who isn't being given any peace. 1:37PM 38 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Both players appear OK to continue after a pause in play. What a collision that was though. Like a train battering into... another train. Or a Costa Rica defender. Anyway, they're alright. 1:35PM 36 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic wins a free-kick right in the corner. The big lads come up for the set piece, which Kolarov will whip in as in in-swinger. Navas Superman throws himself at it and punches away and then Tosic batters into Acosta while going for a header and both are in a lot of pain. 1:34PM 34 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ivanovic over-hits an early cross from wide right and puts it out for a goal kick. Costa Rica have been impressive with how they stop Serbia's build-up play. By blocking the passing option, Serbia don't really have anywhere to go other than long but are trying to keep the ball in defence until an opportunity to get forward opens up. 1:30PM 31 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are blocking the Serbian passing lanes with three forwards and two midfielders behind them, and it's forcing the defenders to really think about where they move the ball so as not to concede possession in a dangerous counter-attacking area. Once the ball is past the halfway line Costa Rica are a 5-4-1... Serbia need another option. And there it is - the chipped pass to Mitrovic. 1:28PM 29 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Bit chance! Super run off the ball by Milinkovic-Savic but he doesn't get the ball out of his feet as a pass over the top puts him through on goal. A low shot is saved easily by Navas but the offside flag had one anyway. He gets away with that miss. 1:26PM 27 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great take by Tadic. The pass is fired straight at him at pace and he controls and flicks the ball on to keep a move going. It just won't drop for Mitrovic in the area and his shot is blocked. 1:24PM 25 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: AFP Serbia are focusing their attacks through the middle then moving play out to the right wing once in the final third. Costa Rica survive another decent move but Serbia are back in possession. You can see they're favouring that right wing here: Serbia crosses Calvo is the left wing-back and is on a yellow card now too. 1:22PM 23 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica get in down the left again though and... that's a shocking tackle. He doesn't mean to go in as heavy as he does but Calvo is rightly booked for a late slide tackle near the corner on Tadic. That's the sort of challenge you put in for a laugh on Pro Evo. 1:21PM 21 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia switch the play a couple of times but Costa Rica look organised and shift over to deny the space and win possession back. Serbia are getting Tadic deeper with Matic helping out on the right now to make sure Ivanovic isn't exposed. 1:19PM 19 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win a free-kick about 35 yards from goal and this will be aimed towards Mitrovic. The referee has to tell Guzman to stand further back from the kick but doesn't book him. The ball goes in, is headed at the back post... and Costa Rica manage to get it away then drop into their low block. 1:16PM 17 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great save by Navas! Serbia have men over, Ivanovic overlaps down the right and dribbles past his man but Navas blocks the low cross into the area. Serbia might be in again! Tadic chips to the back post for Mitrovic but nobody is following up. Milinkovic-Savic has had a couple of lovely touches in the approach play to both those moves. 1:14PM 15 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic receives the ball on the edge of the box, moves it onto his right foot and shoots but the effort is blocked and Navas catches. Costa Rica attack down the left wing again - they're targeting Ivanovic at right-back. Serbia look ropey at the back here. A dreadful pass forward has nearly gifted Costa Rica the chance to break with an overload but the centre-backs just about to manage to see out the danger. 1:12PM 13 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 FREE HEADER! What a miss! Oh my word. A short corner, the second cross gives Gonzalez a completely free header. Dreadful defending from Serbia - what were they doing there? Total chaos in the second phase of that set piece and Costa Rica should be 1-0 up. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Giancarlo González, 12 min) Gonzalez can't believe he's put that miles over the bar. 1:11PM 11 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Costa Rica are looking to use their pace to take on the full-backs. Ivanovic and Kolarov aren't the young men they once were but still have a bit speed left in the legs - Costa Rica look like they might have the running of them though. Costa Rica win a corner. 1:09PM 9 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are quick and break with three forwards. It's not quite coming together for them in the final third for now but they've been able to run with the ball in Serbia's half a couple of times now. 1:07PM 7 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mitrovic is causing problems with his strength upfront and Serbia are looking for him with long throws and chipped passes. Serbia attack through the middle, the ball drops to Kolarov and he tries a shot from 30 yards but pings it wide of goal. 1:05PM 5 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia get up the pitch and win another corner. Both teams are attacking quickly and it's already entertaining. Serbia can't get space in the area thanks to the close attentions of the Costa Rica defence and Kolarov fouls Gamboa while trying to win the second ball from the corner. Costa Rica go long. 1:03PM 3 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 But now Costa Rica are in! Urena gets in behind the defence after a Ruiz pass puts him there and he wins a corner! Mitrovic is back defending now and powers a header away from goal. Calvo joins in down the left and hooks a swinging cross into the area and GONZALEZ IS THERE! But his header is straight at the goalkeeper! What a start this is! 1:01PM 2 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia start with the ball and Mitrovic gets a touch inside the area within 30 seconds. Corner. If he'd controlled that properly he was in for a shot from about 10 yards! The corner comes in and it's headed at goal! Navas looks frantic as he hops onto his other foot... but the referee has spotted a foul. The sign of things to come? 1:00PM KICK OFF Here we go! 12:55PM National anthems 12:54PM Here come the players! Costa Rica will be a 5-4-1 and try to keep things tight and take advantage of counter-attack situations while Serbia will be a 4-2-3-1. The wing-backs will get forward, the defence will be protected by Matic and Milivojevic and Milinkovic-Savic will support Mitrovic throughout. 12:47PM Evra's wearing a tin foil hat Paul Pogba's goal against Australia has been taken away from him. It's an own goal now (because it is...) and Evra has just said he wishes people would leave Paul alone. "If it was Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo I wonder if they would take that goal away," he says. Perhaps he's preparing some sort of speech about jet fuel and steel beams for half time. Patrice Evra showing surprise and actually *clapping* Eni Aluko’s analysis... awful, patronising— Omar Chaudhuri (@OmarChaudhuri) June 17, 2018 12:45PM The warm-ups Credit: GETTY IMAGES The players are just finishing their warm-ups and soon they'll be out on the pitch ready to put on a spectacle. Kolarov was holding his knee for a bit of it but I'm not sure if he's picked up a knock or something during his little pre-match routine. Now, if you'd like to get updates sent to your phone on Whatsapp, sign up for this thing we have here: World Cup whatsapp promo It keeps you up to date with all the news and scores from the games. 12:39PM Take care of the ball and the ball will take care of you Vladimir Stojkovic �� Serbia’s goalkeeper kisses the ball after every save he makes! #SRB#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/JEjD9gYCu8— Kay Murray (@KayLMurray) June 17, 2018 12:38PM Evra is impressed by a woman knowing football "Wow I'm really impressed, she knows more about the game than us," says Evra, in a somewhat* patronising way to Eni Aluko. Do your research pal. ITV have been pretty good at getting their pundits well read before going on air to be fair. Aluko has been explaining what makes Milinkovic-Savic such a threat, detailing his ability to play with the ball at feet but that he's also great at attacking and will support Mitrovic throughout today's game. *incredibly. 12:33PM The current and ex-pros' opinions "They're a strong defensive team but they don't score a lot of goals," says Eni Aluko of Costa Rica. Henrik Larsson and Patrice Evra make up the rest of ITV's pundits bench today. That's a strong lineup. 12:27PM Ivanovic becomes Serbia's all-time most capped player Credit: FIFA Today is his 104th cap, so assuming nothing changes before kick-off he will become the most capped player in the history of Serbia, surpassing Dejan Stankovic. But the real question is how tall is he compared to Mel from Mel and Sue? At 6 feet tall that makes him 1.something Mels from Mel and Sue. 12:24PM Inside the dressing rooms Credit: FIFA Credit: FIFA 12:22PM Our lovely new columnist Cesc Fabregas has joined our writing team for the World Cup and his first couple of columns are already up on the website. You can read his thoughts on Raheem Sterling here. Cesc Fabregas column: England's Raheem Sterling can deliver on the biggest stage 12:17PM Star players to look out for Keylor Navas is by far and away the best player on this Costa Rica team and according to my handy Football Manager database app (their database is used as a scouting tool by top level clubs around the world...), with an average rating of 81 he's way ahead of Borges and Campbell, both rated at 69. Bryan Ruiz shares the same rating... and then everything goes a bit south from there. Serbia meanwhile have some of the most highly rated young players in the world. Predrag Rajkovic is on the bench but at a base level 67 is expected to be about an 85 at some point in his career. I realise some of you might think I'm talking nonsense using a video game's database but their hit rate and accuracy is awesome. Matic - 78, Milinkovic-Savic -78, Adem Ljajic - 72, Aleksandar Kolarov -73... I think you get the idea. If Serbia can work their way around the Costa Rica low block and avoid making any particularly silly mistakes, they should really win this. 12:06PM Those teams in written form Costa Rica (3-5-2 / 5-4-1) Navas, Gamboa, Acosta, González, Duarte, Calvo, Venegas, Guzmán, Borges, Ruiz, Ureña Serbia (4-2-3-1) Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Tosic, Milenkovic, Kolarov, Milinkovic-Savic, Milivojevic, Matic, Ljajic, Tadic, Mitrovic Got to think Serbia are missing a trick leaving all the Football Manager wonderkids out. Zivkovic and Rajkovic on the bench? What is this - amateur hour? pic.twitter.com/LiPrSQumMX— JJ Bull (@jj_bull) June 17, 2018 12:00PM Starting lineups 10 'ic' and one Kolarov: Who's ready for the first match of the day? Here are the teams for #CRCSRB ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/np2DCvEQ78— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 17, 2018 11:59AM The best kits World Cup kits ranked 11:47AM Where is today's game? Well that would be the Samara Arena of course: World Cup 2018 stadium: Samara Arena And as we all know [looks down at phone] it is is the sixth largest city in Russia. This is what the stadium looks like.: Credit: FIFA And the inside is even cooler: Credit: REUTERS 11:40AM Welcome! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for Costa Rica vs Serbia, a match which should be really entertaining and one I'm looking forward to. Yesterday was another brilliant day of World Cup football notable for featuring several high profile VAR moments - it seems like having that extra help has really allowed referees to make some attack-minded decisions and goals make games great. So what to expect today? Serbia have the better (arguably - and I will argue it) group of players with several wonderkids supplemented by hardworking others. Nemanja Matic can run the midfield, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is one of the hottest prospects in football and Dusan Tadic is guaranteed to create chances to score. “As far as this story about me lacking experience, I don’t have any problem because I am working with professional players who prove themselves in clubs across Europe,” their manager Mladen Krstajic said. “My conscience is clear because we are working really well and have been together for three weeks. These are things that make me happy. “We have to be focused, responsible. When I met my squad for the first time I said let's relax, be friends off the pitch, but when comes to matches, everyone has to be responsible.” Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players In the red corner, Costa Rica aren't quite so strong but do have Keylor Navas in goal. You know, the Real Madrid guy. Yeh, him. Other than that, Arsenal's eternally nomadic loanee Joel Campbell is perhaps their best bet of getting a result with Celso Borges the most likely to set someone up for a goal. They didn't impress at all in defeat to England recently and were hammered by Belgium too - today is a massive test. Team news should be with us soon and I'll endeavour to bring you that as well as all the build-up and then analysis of the live action. Stick around to join in the fun.
Aleksandar Kolarov produced a ­moment of captain’s inspiration, curling home a superb free-kick as Serbia got their Group E campaign up and running on Sunday. The former Manchester City full-back had appeared to be injured in the warm-up but recovered to curl in the winner against Costa Rica. Serbia had dominated the match but chances were at a premium 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 lifted a weight from coach Mladen Krstajic, in what was his first competitive game. “There was a great deal of pressure on the team, and on me, over the past seven months,” said Krstajic, who took the job in October. Krstajic’s relief was matched in equal measure by the disappointment of Oscar Ramirez, the Costa Rica manager, whose side are now in a precarious position. “Maybe we have lost a certain margin for qualifying,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult, but our intention remains the same. I told the lads ‘This isn’t over’.” Aleksandar Kolarov struck a wonderful free-kick to win all three points for Serbia Credit: REUTERS If Costa Rica are going to recover, they will need to rediscover the defensive organisation and clinical counter-attacks that propelled them to the quarter-finals four years ago. Serbia found it hard to break them down, but they rarely looked troubled at the back and, barring a late half-chance for substitute Joel Campbell, they coasted through the game. The match began in furious ­fashion, with Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic having a header scooped off the line and Costa Rica’s Giancarlo Gonzalez failing to convert two headed chances. But it soon 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. Mitrovic failed to find the net with a good chance early in the second half, but it mattered little when Kolarov, the AS Roma left-back, produced his moment of magic, curling a free kick, left-footed, over the wall and past the despairing dive of Navas. “It is great to have three points, but we are not finished. I don’t want to do the maths yet,” Kolarov said. Match details Costa Rica (3-4-3): Navas (Real Madrid) 7; Gamboa (Celtic) 6, Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas) 6, Gonzalez (Bologna) 6; Duarte (Espanyol) 6, Calvo (Minnesota) 7, Venegas (Saprissa) 6, Guzman (Portland) 6; Borges (Coruna) 6, Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon) 6, Urena (Los Angeles) 5. Subs: Campbell (Arsenal) for Urena 73, Bolanos (Saprissa) for Venegas 60, Colindres (Saprissa) for Guzman 73. Booked: Guzman, Calvo. Serbia (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic (Partizan) 6; Ivanovic (Zenit) 6, Tosic (Besiktas) 6, Milenkovic (Fiorentina) 6, Kolarov (Roma) 7; Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) 8, Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) 6; Matic (Man Utd) 6, Ljajic (Torino) 7, Tadic (Southampton) 6; Mitrovic (Newcastle) 6. Subs: Kostic (Hamburg) for Ljajic 70, Rukavina (Villarreal) for Tadic 83, Prijovic (PAOK) for Mitrovic 90. Booked: Prijovic. Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal). 3:08PM Some full-time stats for you After losing five consecutive World Cup games between 1998 and 2010, Serbia have since won two of their last three in the competition (L1). Serbia have won their opening game at a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1998, when they did so as Yugoslavia against Iran (1-0). Serbia have now won all four of their World Cup games against teams from the CONCACAF region, with the first three of those coming as Yugoslavia between 1950 and 1998. Costa Rica suffered their first defeat at the World Cup since 2006 (1-2 v Poland), ending a run of five games unbeaten in the competition (W2 D3). And my favourite of all: Aleksandar Kolarov’s goal for Serbia was the third direct free-kick scored at this year’s World Cup (after Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo), which is already as many as there were in the entire 2014 tournament in Brazil. 3:05PM Next up It's Germany vs Mexico! Join Alan Tyers in our World Cup liveblog as he brings you the team news, updates and analysis from the match. 3:05PM The referee separating the players Credit: GETTY IMAGES This is that little rammy towards the end when Matic went nuts. It looks like the Costa Rica nine, Colindres, puts a full on slap on a Serbia player. Could be a red card, might not. I'd argue that the players are just getting fired up late on - if it had been earlier in the game then it would have been in the ref's interests to sort things out further. 3:02PM Who stood out there then? Let's do some player ratings. Costa Rica (3-4-3 / 5-4-1) Navas 7, Gamboa 6, Acosta 6, González 6, Duarte 6, Calvo 7, Venegas 6, Guzmán 6, Borges 6, Ruiz 6, Ureña 5 Serbia (4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2) Stojkovic 6, Ivanovic 6, Tosic 6, Milenkovic 6, Kolarov 7, Milinkovic-Savic 8, Milivojevic 6, Matic 6, Ljajic 6, Tadic 7, Mitrovic 5 2:58PM Analysis Average touch positions (full time) A game of one half. Specifically the right for Serbia and left for Costa Rica. Passes kept going down the one side of the pitch. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:55PM FULL TIME Credit: AFP And that's it! Serbia get a deserved win against a spirited Costa Rica. Kolarov's free-kick was a thing of wonder and has won the points. 2:54PM 90 mins +7 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 More controversy here. Prijovic has caught someone off the ball with his forearm and Acosta throws himself to the floor. Is this a red card? The VAR is in use! Aaaaand it's a yellow card. Another good decision (IMO). 2:52PM 90 mins +5 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 VAR time! The referee is reviewing that decision! He wants to see if Matic should be in more trouble... but the VAR says no. Seems fair. Costa Rica keep coming... the ball is hooked in, headed down IT'S A CHANCE FOR BOLANOS! And he's missed from six yards! Thankfully, the linesman calls offside and he is miles ahead of the last man. What a miss though. Dreadful finish. 2:50PM 90 mins +4 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 That's poor from the substitute Rukavina. He loses possession then doesn't try to win it back but now Serbia are on the counter-attack, with men over! And the ball's been lost. And now Matic is involved with the bench! He's getting all fired up needlessly with the Costa Rica staff. 2:49PM 90 mins +3 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick 40 yards out, hit it in the area and it;s headed away. Gamboa goes for a distance wondergoal but his long range effort is saved by the goalkeeper easily. 2:47PM 90 mins +1 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 M-Savic has had a superb game. His timing of pass and movement off the ball is excellent. Serbia take Mitrovic off for Prijovic. Serbia come forward again - they have men over! Kostic spots the chance to shoot but blasts over the bar. So many players have been jumping their shots miles over. Practise required. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Filip Kostic, 90 min) 2:45PM 89 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 MITROVIC IS IN AGAIN! And he's wasted the chance again! Oh my word. He's so very nearly a great player - gets in the right positions, is strong but his finishing isn't all that. And here he gets into the box, slows down to wait for the ball to roll ahead of his body and the Costa Rica defender goes down. Mitrovic goes down too but I suspect that's more a problem of balance than an actual foul. No VAR for this incident. 2:43PM 87 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Stojkovic gets someone to help him tie his shoelaces. Cunning time-wasting tactic? Or cruel window into a life spent never learning to tie shoelaces? Only he really knows. 2:41PM 85 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica are now focusing most of their play down the right, targeting Kolarov. Nothing's coming off at the moment now, they're running out of ideas. 2:39PM 82 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell's been lively since coming on but you can kind of tell he's not played much recently. A half yard off the pace on the ball has given Serbia defenders opportunity to rob him of possession. Rukavina comes on for Tadic, which is almost certainly to give Ivanovic back-up at right-back. It might mean a 5-4-1 for Serbia. 2:36PM 80 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell tries to work space for a shot on the edge of the area but is blocked. M-Savic pulls off another beautiful bit of skill to take the ball round the outside of a midfielder and puts Serbia on the attack. They're starting to look a little tired now... 2:35PM 78 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: TASS Ooooh that should be 2-0. Tadic gets in behind on the right and squares the pass into the six yard box. Navas dives at it, gets a tiny flick on it and Kostic has a side foot to finish in an empty net. He gets it all wrong though and the net is unharmed. 2:32PM 76 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Colindres comes on for Guzman, which means Costa Rica have used all their substitutions up. Serbia fire some passes together and link well. M-Savic has the chance to shoot 25 yards out, takes the chance but balloons his effort way over the bar. 2:30PM 74 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell is in behind! There's a lucky deflection and Campbell gets ahead of Milenkovic but just isn't sharp enough to beat him to the ball and get a shot away. Corner. The goalie comes to get the cross but is nowhere near it. Like someone's thrown a scarecrow into the air at the ball. Serbia survive and Mitrovic shields the ball high up the pitch. 2:29PM 72 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica free-kick wide left... Campbell takes it and a Serbian head puts it clear. Kostic tries to break but the ball goes out of play, Serbia go back to their 4-4-1-1 shape and get behind the ball. 2:27PM 70 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell goes on a little dribble into the box but Ljajic puts in a great tackle and wins the ball. Costa Rica in a clear 3-4-3 now and making much snappier passes. Now Serbia are taking their turn to defend with blocks of four. Ljajic comes off for Kostic. 2:24PM 68 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Here comes Joel Campbell! Urena heads off. Look at the difference in possession now! Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:22PM 66 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES What a photo that is! The ball smashing into the back of the net from Kolarov's free-kick. Serbia have dropped really deep now they're 1-0 up... I wonder whether the best form of defence might actually be attacking Costa Rica more. They're inviting trouble like this. 2:20PM 64 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 1 - Kolarov has been the first Serbian player to score from direct free kick at the WC since Sinisa Mihajlovic v Iran on 14 June 1998 (including Yugoslavia). Southpaw. pic.twitter.com/yLePjJ0cmn— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 17, 2018 Costa Rica taking the game to Serbia now and Serbia are dropping further and further back. 2:18PM 62 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick in the final third but Serbia defend deep and head away. Costa Rica trying to get back into the game straight away. You're at your most vulnerable just after scoring goes the old saying. 2:16PM 60 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Serbia have the momentum now. Ljajic makes a run ahead of the defence and just can't get on the end of a chipped pass from Tadic. Will Costa Rica come out of their defensive shell now? 2:13PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! WHAT A HIT! KOLAVOC HAS SCORED! Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Aleksandar Kolarov, 56 min) Navas had absolutely no chance! It's a perfect free-kick, curled over the wall with power into the top corner. Goal: Serbia ( 56 min ) Unstoppable. 2:13PM 56 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win another free-kick in a dangerous area. Kolarov can shoot from here and seems to be lining one up. 2:12PM 55 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic gets a head on the ball as Duarte grabs hold of him in full view of the referee. Consistency in refereeing? There's not an awful lot of difference between that incident and the one yesterday that resulted in a penalty for Argentina. 2:11PM 54 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia enjoying more of the ball here. Kolarov curls a cross to the box and wins a corner as Calvo heads away at the back post. The referee has to sort out some pushing and pulling in the area. 2:09PM 52 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia are stretching the pitch and attacking through the middle more now. Although another cross from wide is collected from Navas. 2:08PM 50 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 HUGE MISS! Mitrovic breaks the offside trap, is one on one with Navas and his shot is terrible. Navas saves well but Mitrovic has to score there. What a massive moment that could prove to be. 2:07PM 49 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are on the right (light blue), Serbia the left (dark blue). 2:03PM 47 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic comes back to help out Ivanovic early on as Bryan Ruiz skins him on the left wing. No change of tactic here then. 2:02PM KICK-OFF 2 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica start the second half. We're back! 2:00PM Next up World Cup 2018 tactics: Why Germany's goalkeeper is key to how they attack Don't forget that after this game is Germany vs Mexico! You can join Alan Tyers in our liveblog coverage of that once this match is over. And not a moment sooner! Don't leave me. Please. 1:57PM Serbia's strikers Check the starting position of Milinkovic-Savic in possession. He's a central striker! Patrice Evra on him being linked with Man Utd: "You need to be a character, a personality. I'm afraid now you miss players playing for the passion. If you said 20 years ago Patrice you play for Manchester United and you don't even get paid, you do it." Doesn't really answer the question but I think I know what I mean. At least he hasn't literally applauded Aluko's football knowledge with this answer. 1:49PM Serbia's very attacking average positions That's a 2-4-4! Love it. Average touch positions (42 min) Look at the near-comical focus on one particular side of the pitch. Poor Ivanovic, he'll be knackered at the end of this. 1:47PM HALF TIME - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Thoroughly entertaining stuff there. Costa Rica targeting Ivanovic down the left and relying on quick counter-attacks, while Serbia have done well without really taking advantage of all their possession. Where there's Mitrovic there's a chance and Milinkovic-Savic has turned up in dangerous areas too. I can see a goal or two in the second half. 1:46PM 45 mins +1 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Borges should be booked for pulling Ljajic back just as he was about to get Serbia moving in the Costa Rica half... but Mitrovic is penalised for a tiny nudge on the back of Gonzalez. 1:44PM 44 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 MILINKOVIC-SAVIC BICYLE KICK! Saved by Navas! Wow. That would have been something else! Ivanovic chips into the box, the Lazio man goes for the spectacular, the linesman says he's offside. He isn't, so that goal would have counted if it had gone in. 1:42PM 42 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are enjoying the ball for a while. They've been on the back foot for quite a lot of the game so far, though this possession stat feels like it's way off. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia Calvo cuts inside from the left once more and tries a shot on his right foot... but drags it wide of the near post. Out: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Francisco Calvo, 42 min) 1:40PM 40 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ohhhh there's a slip in the Serbia defence by Tosic and it's given Costa Rica a chance to shoot. Urena takes it... but that's miles away. Calvo then wins a corner off Ivanovic, who isn't being given any peace. 1:37PM 38 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Both players appear OK to continue after a pause in play. What a collision that was though. Like a train battering into... another train. Or a Costa Rica defender. Anyway, they're alright. 1:35PM 36 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic wins a free-kick right in the corner. The big lads come up for the set piece, which Kolarov will whip in as in in-swinger. Navas Superman throws himself at it and punches away and then Tosic batters into Acosta while going for a header and both are in a lot of pain. 1:34PM 34 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ivanovic over-hits an early cross from wide right and puts it out for a goal kick. Costa Rica have been impressive with how they stop Serbia's build-up play. By blocking the passing option, Serbia don't really have anywhere to go other than long but are trying to keep the ball in defence until an opportunity to get forward opens up. 1:30PM 31 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are blocking the Serbian passing lanes with three forwards and two midfielders behind them, and it's forcing the defenders to really think about where they move the ball so as not to concede possession in a dangerous counter-attacking area. Once the ball is past the halfway line Costa Rica are a 5-4-1... Serbia need another option. And there it is - the chipped pass to Mitrovic. 1:28PM 29 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Bit chance! Super run off the ball by Milinkovic-Savic but he doesn't get the ball out of his feet as a pass over the top puts him through on goal. A low shot is saved easily by Navas but the offside flag had one anyway. He gets away with that miss. 1:26PM 27 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great take by Tadic. The pass is fired straight at him at pace and he controls and flicks the ball on to keep a move going. It just won't drop for Mitrovic in the area and his shot is blocked. 1:24PM 25 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: AFP Serbia are focusing their attacks through the middle then moving play out to the right wing once in the final third. Costa Rica survive another decent move but Serbia are back in possession. You can see they're favouring that right wing here: Serbia crosses Calvo is the left wing-back and is on a yellow card now too. 1:22PM 23 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica get in down the left again though and... that's a shocking tackle. He doesn't mean to go in as heavy as he does but Calvo is rightly booked for a late slide tackle near the corner on Tadic. That's the sort of challenge you put in for a laugh on Pro Evo. 1:21PM 21 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia switch the play a couple of times but Costa Rica look organised and shift over to deny the space and win possession back. Serbia are getting Tadic deeper with Matic helping out on the right now to make sure Ivanovic isn't exposed. 1:19PM 19 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win a free-kick about 35 yards from goal and this will be aimed towards Mitrovic. The referee has to tell Guzman to stand further back from the kick but doesn't book him. The ball goes in, is headed at the back post... and Costa Rica manage to get it away then drop into their low block. 1:16PM 17 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great save by Navas! Serbia have men over, Ivanovic overlaps down the right and dribbles past his man but Navas blocks the low cross into the area. Serbia might be in again! Tadic chips to the back post for Mitrovic but nobody is following up. Milinkovic-Savic has had a couple of lovely touches in the approach play to both those moves. 1:14PM 15 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic receives the ball on the edge of the box, moves it onto his right foot and shoots but the effort is blocked and Navas catches. Costa Rica attack down the left wing again - they're targeting Ivanovic at right-back. Serbia look ropey at the back here. A dreadful pass forward has nearly gifted Costa Rica the chance to break with an overload but the centre-backs just about to manage to see out the danger. 1:12PM 13 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 FREE HEADER! What a miss! Oh my word. A short corner, the second cross gives Gonzalez a completely free header. Dreadful defending from Serbia - what were they doing there? Total chaos in the second phase of that set piece and Costa Rica should be 1-0 up. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Giancarlo González, 12 min) Gonzalez can't believe he's put that miles over the bar. 1:11PM 11 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Costa Rica are looking to use their pace to take on the full-backs. Ivanovic and Kolarov aren't the young men they once were but still have a bit speed left in the legs - Costa Rica look like they might have the running of them though. Costa Rica win a corner. 1:09PM 9 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are quick and break with three forwards. It's not quite coming together for them in the final third for now but they've been able to run with the ball in Serbia's half a couple of times now. 1:07PM 7 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mitrovic is causing problems with his strength upfront and Serbia are looking for him with long throws and chipped passes. Serbia attack through the middle, the ball drops to Kolarov and he tries a shot from 30 yards but pings it wide of goal. 1:05PM 5 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia get up the pitch and win another corner. Both teams are attacking quickly and it's already entertaining. Serbia can't get space in the area thanks to the close attentions of the Costa Rica defence and Kolarov fouls Gamboa while trying to win the second ball from the corner. Costa Rica go long. 1:03PM 3 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 But now Costa Rica are in! Urena gets in behind the defence after a Ruiz pass puts him there and he wins a corner! Mitrovic is back defending now and powers a header away from goal. Calvo joins in down the left and hooks a swinging cross into the area and GONZALEZ IS THERE! But his header is straight at the goalkeeper! What a start this is! 1:01PM 2 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia start with the ball and Mitrovic gets a touch inside the area within 30 seconds. Corner. If he'd controlled that properly he was in for a shot from about 10 yards! The corner comes in and it's headed at goal! Navas looks frantic as he hops onto his other foot... but the referee has spotted a foul. The sign of things to come? 1:00PM KICK OFF Here we go! 12:55PM National anthems 12:54PM Here come the players! Costa Rica will be a 5-4-1 and try to keep things tight and take advantage of counter-attack situations while Serbia will be a 4-2-3-1. The wing-backs will get forward, the defence will be protected by Matic and Milivojevic and Milinkovic-Savic will support Mitrovic throughout. 12:47PM Evra's wearing a tin foil hat Paul Pogba's goal against Australia has been taken away from him. It's an own goal now (because it is...) and Evra has just said he wishes people would leave Paul alone. "If it was Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo I wonder if they would take that goal away," he says. Perhaps he's preparing some sort of speech about jet fuel and steel beams for half time. Patrice Evra showing surprise and actually *clapping* Eni Aluko’s analysis... awful, patronising— Omar Chaudhuri (@OmarChaudhuri) June 17, 2018 12:45PM The warm-ups Credit: GETTY IMAGES The players are just finishing their warm-ups and soon they'll be out on the pitch ready to put on a spectacle. Kolarov was holding his knee for a bit of it but I'm not sure if he's picked up a knock or something during his little pre-match routine. Now, if you'd like to get updates sent to your phone on Whatsapp, sign up for this thing we have here: World Cup whatsapp promo It keeps you up to date with all the news and scores from the games. 12:39PM Take care of the ball and the ball will take care of you Vladimir Stojkovic �� Serbia’s goalkeeper kisses the ball after every save he makes! #SRB#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/JEjD9gYCu8— Kay Murray (@KayLMurray) June 17, 2018 12:38PM Evra is impressed by a woman knowing football "Wow I'm really impressed, she knows more about the game than us," says Evra, in a somewhat* patronising way to Eni Aluko. Do your research pal. ITV have been pretty good at getting their pundits well read before going on air to be fair. Aluko has been explaining what makes Milinkovic-Savic such a threat, detailing his ability to play with the ball at feet but that he's also great at attacking and will support Mitrovic throughout today's game. *incredibly. 12:33PM The current and ex-pros' opinions "They're a strong defensive team but they don't score a lot of goals," says Eni Aluko of Costa Rica. Henrik Larsson and Patrice Evra make up the rest of ITV's pundits bench today. That's a strong lineup. 12:27PM Ivanovic becomes Serbia's all-time most capped player Credit: FIFA Today is his 104th cap, so assuming nothing changes before kick-off he will become the most capped player in the history of Serbia, surpassing Dejan Stankovic. But the real question is how tall is he compared to Mel from Mel and Sue? At 6 feet tall that makes him 1.something Mels from Mel and Sue. 12:24PM Inside the dressing rooms Credit: FIFA Credit: FIFA 12:22PM Our lovely new columnist Cesc Fabregas has joined our writing team for the World Cup and his first couple of columns are already up on the website. You can read his thoughts on Raheem Sterling here. Cesc Fabregas column: England's Raheem Sterling can deliver on the biggest stage 12:17PM Star players to look out for Keylor Navas is by far and away the best player on this Costa Rica team and according to my handy Football Manager database app (their database is used as a scouting tool by top level clubs around the world...), with an average rating of 81 he's way ahead of Borges and Campbell, both rated at 69. Bryan Ruiz shares the same rating... and then everything goes a bit south from there. Serbia meanwhile have some of the most highly rated young players in the world. Predrag Rajkovic is on the bench but at a base level 67 is expected to be about an 85 at some point in his career. I realise some of you might think I'm talking nonsense using a video game's database but their hit rate and accuracy is awesome. Matic - 78, Milinkovic-Savic -78, Adem Ljajic - 72, Aleksandar Kolarov -73... I think you get the idea. If Serbia can work their way around the Costa Rica low block and avoid making any particularly silly mistakes, they should really win this. 12:06PM Those teams in written form Costa Rica (3-5-2 / 5-4-1) Navas, Gamboa, Acosta, González, Duarte, Calvo, Venegas, Guzmán, Borges, Ruiz, Ureña Serbia (4-2-3-1) Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Tosic, Milenkovic, Kolarov, Milinkovic-Savic, Milivojevic, Matic, Ljajic, Tadic, Mitrovic Got to think Serbia are missing a trick leaving all the Football Manager wonderkids out. Zivkovic and Rajkovic on the bench? What is this - amateur hour? pic.twitter.com/LiPrSQumMX— JJ Bull (@jj_bull) June 17, 2018 12:00PM Starting lineups 10 'ic' and one Kolarov: Who's ready for the first match of the day? Here are the teams for #CRCSRB ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/np2DCvEQ78— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 17, 2018 11:59AM The best kits World Cup kits ranked 11:47AM Where is today's game? Well that would be the Samara Arena of course: World Cup 2018 stadium: Samara Arena And as we all know [looks down at phone] it is is the sixth largest city in Russia. This is what the stadium looks like.: Credit: FIFA And the inside is even cooler: Credit: REUTERS 11:40AM Welcome! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for Costa Rica vs Serbia, a match which should be really entertaining and one I'm looking forward to. Yesterday was another brilliant day of World Cup football notable for featuring several high profile VAR moments - it seems like having that extra help has really allowed referees to make some attack-minded decisions and goals make games great. So what to expect today? Serbia have the better (arguably - and I will argue it) group of players with several wonderkids supplemented by hardworking others. Nemanja Matic can run the midfield, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is one of the hottest prospects in football and Dusan Tadic is guaranteed to create chances to score. “As far as this story about me lacking experience, I don’t have any problem because I am working with professional players who prove themselves in clubs across Europe,” their manager Mladen Krstajic said. “My conscience is clear because we are working really well and have been together for three weeks. These are things that make me happy. “We have to be focused, responsible. When I met my squad for the first time I said let's relax, be friends off the pitch, but when comes to matches, everyone has to be responsible.” Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players In the red corner, Costa Rica aren't quite so strong but do have Keylor Navas in goal. You know, the Real Madrid guy. Yeh, him. Other than that, Arsenal's eternally nomadic loanee Joel Campbell is perhaps their best bet of getting a result with Celso Borges the most likely to set someone up for a goal. They didn't impress at all in defeat to England recently and were hammered by Belgium too - today is a massive test. Team news should be with us soon and I'll endeavour to bring you that as well as all the build-up and then analysis of the live action. Stick around to join in the fun.
Aleksandar Kolarov scores sensational free-kick as Serbia claim hard-fought World Cup 2018 win against Costa Rica
Aleksandar Kolarov produced a ­moment of captain’s inspiration, curling home a superb free-kick as Serbia got their Group E campaign up and running on Sunday. The former Manchester City full-back had appeared to be injured in the warm-up but recovered to curl in the winner against Costa Rica. Serbia had dominated the match but chances were at a premium 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 lifted a weight from coach Mladen Krstajic, in what was his first competitive game. “There was a great deal of pressure on the team, and on me, over the past seven months,” said Krstajic, who took the job in October. Krstajic’s relief was matched in equal measure by the disappointment of Oscar Ramirez, the Costa Rica manager, whose side are now in a precarious position. “Maybe we have lost a certain margin for qualifying,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult, but our intention remains the same. I told the lads ‘This isn’t over’.” Aleksandar Kolarov struck a wonderful free-kick to win all three points for Serbia Credit: REUTERS If Costa Rica are going to recover, they will need to rediscover the defensive organisation and clinical counter-attacks that propelled them to the quarter-finals four years ago. Serbia found it hard to break them down, but they rarely looked troubled at the back and, barring a late half-chance for substitute Joel Campbell, they coasted through the game. The match began in furious ­fashion, with Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic having a header scooped off the line and Costa Rica’s Giancarlo Gonzalez failing to convert two headed chances. But it soon 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. Mitrovic failed to find the net with a good chance early in the second half, but it mattered little when Kolarov, the AS Roma left-back, produced his moment of magic, curling a free kick, left-footed, over the wall and past the despairing dive of Navas. “It is great to have three points, but we are not finished. I don’t want to do the maths yet,” Kolarov said. Match details Costa Rica (3-4-3): Navas (Real Madrid) 7; Gamboa (Celtic) 6, Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas) 6, Gonzalez (Bologna) 6; Duarte (Espanyol) 6, Calvo (Minnesota) 7, Venegas (Saprissa) 6, Guzman (Portland) 6; Borges (Coruna) 6, Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon) 6, Urena (Los Angeles) 5. Subs: Campbell (Arsenal) for Urena 73, Bolanos (Saprissa) for Venegas 60, Colindres (Saprissa) for Guzman 73. Booked: Guzman, Calvo. Serbia (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic (Partizan) 6; Ivanovic (Zenit) 6, Tosic (Besiktas) 6, Milenkovic (Fiorentina) 6, Kolarov (Roma) 7; Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) 8, Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) 6; Matic (Man Utd) 6, Ljajic (Torino) 7, Tadic (Southampton) 6; Mitrovic (Newcastle) 6. Subs: Kostic (Hamburg) for Ljajic 70, Rukavina (Villarreal) for Tadic 83, Prijovic (PAOK) for Mitrovic 90. Booked: Prijovic. Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal). 3:08PM Some full-time stats for you After losing five consecutive World Cup games between 1998 and 2010, Serbia have since won two of their last three in the competition (L1). Serbia have won their opening game at a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1998, when they did so as Yugoslavia against Iran (1-0). Serbia have now won all four of their World Cup games against teams from the CONCACAF region, with the first three of those coming as Yugoslavia between 1950 and 1998. Costa Rica suffered their first defeat at the World Cup since 2006 (1-2 v Poland), ending a run of five games unbeaten in the competition (W2 D3). And my favourite of all: Aleksandar Kolarov’s goal for Serbia was the third direct free-kick scored at this year’s World Cup (after Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo), which is already as many as there were in the entire 2014 tournament in Brazil. 3:05PM Next up It's Germany vs Mexico! Join Alan Tyers in our World Cup liveblog as he brings you the team news, updates and analysis from the match. 3:05PM The referee separating the players Credit: GETTY IMAGES This is that little rammy towards the end when Matic went nuts. It looks like the Costa Rica nine, Colindres, puts a full on slap on a Serbia player. Could be a red card, might not. I'd argue that the players are just getting fired up late on - if it had been earlier in the game then it would have been in the ref's interests to sort things out further. 3:02PM Who stood out there then? Let's do some player ratings. Costa Rica (3-4-3 / 5-4-1) Navas 7, Gamboa 6, Acosta 6, González 6, Duarte 6, Calvo 7, Venegas 6, Guzmán 6, Borges 6, Ruiz 6, Ureña 5 Serbia (4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2) Stojkovic 6, Ivanovic 6, Tosic 6, Milenkovic 6, Kolarov 7, Milinkovic-Savic 8, Milivojevic 6, Matic 6, Ljajic 6, Tadic 7, Mitrovic 5 2:58PM Analysis Average touch positions (full time) A game of one half. Specifically the right for Serbia and left for Costa Rica. Passes kept going down the one side of the pitch. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:55PM FULL TIME Credit: AFP And that's it! Serbia get a deserved win against a spirited Costa Rica. Kolarov's free-kick was a thing of wonder and has won the points. 2:54PM 90 mins +7 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 More controversy here. Prijovic has caught someone off the ball with his forearm and Acosta throws himself to the floor. Is this a red card? The VAR is in use! Aaaaand it's a yellow card. Another good decision (IMO). 2:52PM 90 mins +5 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 VAR time! The referee is reviewing that decision! He wants to see if Matic should be in more trouble... but the VAR says no. Seems fair. Costa Rica keep coming... the ball is hooked in, headed down IT'S A CHANCE FOR BOLANOS! And he's missed from six yards! Thankfully, the linesman calls offside and he is miles ahead of the last man. What a miss though. Dreadful finish. 2:50PM 90 mins +4 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 That's poor from the substitute Rukavina. He loses possession then doesn't try to win it back but now Serbia are on the counter-attack, with men over! And the ball's been lost. And now Matic is involved with the bench! He's getting all fired up needlessly with the Costa Rica staff. 2:49PM 90 mins +3 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick 40 yards out, hit it in the area and it;s headed away. Gamboa goes for a distance wondergoal but his long range effort is saved by the goalkeeper easily. 2:47PM 90 mins +1 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 M-Savic has had a superb game. His timing of pass and movement off the ball is excellent. Serbia take Mitrovic off for Prijovic. Serbia come forward again - they have men over! Kostic spots the chance to shoot but blasts over the bar. So many players have been jumping their shots miles over. Practise required. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Filip Kostic, 90 min) 2:45PM 89 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 MITROVIC IS IN AGAIN! And he's wasted the chance again! Oh my word. He's so very nearly a great player - gets in the right positions, is strong but his finishing isn't all that. And here he gets into the box, slows down to wait for the ball to roll ahead of his body and the Costa Rica defender goes down. Mitrovic goes down too but I suspect that's more a problem of balance than an actual foul. No VAR for this incident. 2:43PM 87 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Stojkovic gets someone to help him tie his shoelaces. Cunning time-wasting tactic? Or cruel window into a life spent never learning to tie shoelaces? Only he really knows. 2:41PM 85 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica are now focusing most of their play down the right, targeting Kolarov. Nothing's coming off at the moment now, they're running out of ideas. 2:39PM 82 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell's been lively since coming on but you can kind of tell he's not played much recently. A half yard off the pace on the ball has given Serbia defenders opportunity to rob him of possession. Rukavina comes on for Tadic, which is almost certainly to give Ivanovic back-up at right-back. It might mean a 5-4-1 for Serbia. 2:36PM 80 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell tries to work space for a shot on the edge of the area but is blocked. M-Savic pulls off another beautiful bit of skill to take the ball round the outside of a midfielder and puts Serbia on the attack. They're starting to look a little tired now... 2:35PM 78 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: TASS Ooooh that should be 2-0. Tadic gets in behind on the right and squares the pass into the six yard box. Navas dives at it, gets a tiny flick on it and Kostic has a side foot to finish in an empty net. He gets it all wrong though and the net is unharmed. 2:32PM 76 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Colindres comes on for Guzman, which means Costa Rica have used all their substitutions up. Serbia fire some passes together and link well. M-Savic has the chance to shoot 25 yards out, takes the chance but balloons his effort way over the bar. 2:30PM 74 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell is in behind! There's a lucky deflection and Campbell gets ahead of Milenkovic but just isn't sharp enough to beat him to the ball and get a shot away. Corner. The goalie comes to get the cross but is nowhere near it. Like someone's thrown a scarecrow into the air at the ball. Serbia survive and Mitrovic shields the ball high up the pitch. 2:29PM 72 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica free-kick wide left... Campbell takes it and a Serbian head puts it clear. Kostic tries to break but the ball goes out of play, Serbia go back to their 4-4-1-1 shape and get behind the ball. 2:27PM 70 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell goes on a little dribble into the box but Ljajic puts in a great tackle and wins the ball. Costa Rica in a clear 3-4-3 now and making much snappier passes. Now Serbia are taking their turn to defend with blocks of four. Ljajic comes off for Kostic. 2:24PM 68 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Here comes Joel Campbell! Urena heads off. Look at the difference in possession now! Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:22PM 66 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES What a photo that is! The ball smashing into the back of the net from Kolarov's free-kick. Serbia have dropped really deep now they're 1-0 up... I wonder whether the best form of defence might actually be attacking Costa Rica more. They're inviting trouble like this. 2:20PM 64 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 1 - Kolarov has been the first Serbian player to score from direct free kick at the WC since Sinisa Mihajlovic v Iran on 14 June 1998 (including Yugoslavia). Southpaw. pic.twitter.com/yLePjJ0cmn— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 17, 2018 Costa Rica taking the game to Serbia now and Serbia are dropping further and further back. 2:18PM 62 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick in the final third but Serbia defend deep and head away. Costa Rica trying to get back into the game straight away. You're at your most vulnerable just after scoring goes the old saying. 2:16PM 60 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Serbia have the momentum now. Ljajic makes a run ahead of the defence and just can't get on the end of a chipped pass from Tadic. Will Costa Rica come out of their defensive shell now? 2:13PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! WHAT A HIT! KOLAVOC HAS SCORED! Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Aleksandar Kolarov, 56 min) Navas had absolutely no chance! It's a perfect free-kick, curled over the wall with power into the top corner. Goal: Serbia ( 56 min ) Unstoppable. 2:13PM 56 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win another free-kick in a dangerous area. Kolarov can shoot from here and seems to be lining one up. 2:12PM 55 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic gets a head on the ball as Duarte grabs hold of him in full view of the referee. Consistency in refereeing? There's not an awful lot of difference between that incident and the one yesterday that resulted in a penalty for Argentina. 2:11PM 54 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia enjoying more of the ball here. Kolarov curls a cross to the box and wins a corner as Calvo heads away at the back post. The referee has to sort out some pushing and pulling in the area. 2:09PM 52 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia are stretching the pitch and attacking through the middle more now. Although another cross from wide is collected from Navas. 2:08PM 50 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 HUGE MISS! Mitrovic breaks the offside trap, is one on one with Navas and his shot is terrible. Navas saves well but Mitrovic has to score there. What a massive moment that could prove to be. 2:07PM 49 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are on the right (light blue), Serbia the left (dark blue). 2:03PM 47 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic comes back to help out Ivanovic early on as Bryan Ruiz skins him on the left wing. No change of tactic here then. 2:02PM KICK-OFF 2 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica start the second half. We're back! 2:00PM Next up World Cup 2018 tactics: Why Germany's goalkeeper is key to how they attack Don't forget that after this game is Germany vs Mexico! You can join Alan Tyers in our liveblog coverage of that once this match is over. And not a moment sooner! Don't leave me. Please. 1:57PM Serbia's strikers Check the starting position of Milinkovic-Savic in possession. He's a central striker! Patrice Evra on him being linked with Man Utd: "You need to be a character, a personality. I'm afraid now you miss players playing for the passion. If you said 20 years ago Patrice you play for Manchester United and you don't even get paid, you do it." Doesn't really answer the question but I think I know what I mean. At least he hasn't literally applauded Aluko's football knowledge with this answer. 1:49PM Serbia's very attacking average positions That's a 2-4-4! Love it. Average touch positions (42 min) Look at the near-comical focus on one particular side of the pitch. Poor Ivanovic, he'll be knackered at the end of this. 1:47PM HALF TIME - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Thoroughly entertaining stuff there. Costa Rica targeting Ivanovic down the left and relying on quick counter-attacks, while Serbia have done well without really taking advantage of all their possession. Where there's Mitrovic there's a chance and Milinkovic-Savic has turned up in dangerous areas too. I can see a goal or two in the second half. 1:46PM 45 mins +1 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Borges should be booked for pulling Ljajic back just as he was about to get Serbia moving in the Costa Rica half... but Mitrovic is penalised for a tiny nudge on the back of Gonzalez. 1:44PM 44 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 MILINKOVIC-SAVIC BICYLE KICK! Saved by Navas! Wow. That would have been something else! Ivanovic chips into the box, the Lazio man goes for the spectacular, the linesman says he's offside. He isn't, so that goal would have counted if it had gone in. 1:42PM 42 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are enjoying the ball for a while. They've been on the back foot for quite a lot of the game so far, though this possession stat feels like it's way off. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia Calvo cuts inside from the left once more and tries a shot on his right foot... but drags it wide of the near post. Out: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Francisco Calvo, 42 min) 1:40PM 40 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ohhhh there's a slip in the Serbia defence by Tosic and it's given Costa Rica a chance to shoot. Urena takes it... but that's miles away. Calvo then wins a corner off Ivanovic, who isn't being given any peace. 1:37PM 38 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Both players appear OK to continue after a pause in play. What a collision that was though. Like a train battering into... another train. Or a Costa Rica defender. Anyway, they're alright. 1:35PM 36 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic wins a free-kick right in the corner. The big lads come up for the set piece, which Kolarov will whip in as in in-swinger. Navas Superman throws himself at it and punches away and then Tosic batters into Acosta while going for a header and both are in a lot of pain. 1:34PM 34 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ivanovic over-hits an early cross from wide right and puts it out for a goal kick. Costa Rica have been impressive with how they stop Serbia's build-up play. By blocking the passing option, Serbia don't really have anywhere to go other than long but are trying to keep the ball in defence until an opportunity to get forward opens up. 1:30PM 31 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are blocking the Serbian passing lanes with three forwards and two midfielders behind them, and it's forcing the defenders to really think about where they move the ball so as not to concede possession in a dangerous counter-attacking area. Once the ball is past the halfway line Costa Rica are a 5-4-1... Serbia need another option. And there it is - the chipped pass to Mitrovic. 1:28PM 29 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Bit chance! Super run off the ball by Milinkovic-Savic but he doesn't get the ball out of his feet as a pass over the top puts him through on goal. A low shot is saved easily by Navas but the offside flag had one anyway. He gets away with that miss. 1:26PM 27 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great take by Tadic. The pass is fired straight at him at pace and he controls and flicks the ball on to keep a move going. It just won't drop for Mitrovic in the area and his shot is blocked. 1:24PM 25 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: AFP Serbia are focusing their attacks through the middle then moving play out to the right wing once in the final third. Costa Rica survive another decent move but Serbia are back in possession. You can see they're favouring that right wing here: Serbia crosses Calvo is the left wing-back and is on a yellow card now too. 1:22PM 23 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica get in down the left again though and... that's a shocking tackle. He doesn't mean to go in as heavy as he does but Calvo is rightly booked for a late slide tackle near the corner on Tadic. That's the sort of challenge you put in for a laugh on Pro Evo. 1:21PM 21 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia switch the play a couple of times but Costa Rica look organised and shift over to deny the space and win possession back. Serbia are getting Tadic deeper with Matic helping out on the right now to make sure Ivanovic isn't exposed. 1:19PM 19 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win a free-kick about 35 yards from goal and this will be aimed towards Mitrovic. The referee has to tell Guzman to stand further back from the kick but doesn't book him. The ball goes in, is headed at the back post... and Costa Rica manage to get it away then drop into their low block. 1:16PM 17 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great save by Navas! Serbia have men over, Ivanovic overlaps down the right and dribbles past his man but Navas blocks the low cross into the area. Serbia might be in again! Tadic chips to the back post for Mitrovic but nobody is following up. Milinkovic-Savic has had a couple of lovely touches in the approach play to both those moves. 1:14PM 15 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic receives the ball on the edge of the box, moves it onto his right foot and shoots but the effort is blocked and Navas catches. Costa Rica attack down the left wing again - they're targeting Ivanovic at right-back. Serbia look ropey at the back here. A dreadful pass forward has nearly gifted Costa Rica the chance to break with an overload but the centre-backs just about to manage to see out the danger. 1:12PM 13 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 FREE HEADER! What a miss! Oh my word. A short corner, the second cross gives Gonzalez a completely free header. Dreadful defending from Serbia - what were they doing there? Total chaos in the second phase of that set piece and Costa Rica should be 1-0 up. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Giancarlo González, 12 min) Gonzalez can't believe he's put that miles over the bar. 1:11PM 11 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Costa Rica are looking to use their pace to take on the full-backs. Ivanovic and Kolarov aren't the young men they once were but still have a bit speed left in the legs - Costa Rica look like they might have the running of them though. Costa Rica win a corner. 1:09PM 9 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are quick and break with three forwards. It's not quite coming together for them in the final third for now but they've been able to run with the ball in Serbia's half a couple of times now. 1:07PM 7 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mitrovic is causing problems with his strength upfront and Serbia are looking for him with long throws and chipped passes. Serbia attack through the middle, the ball drops to Kolarov and he tries a shot from 30 yards but pings it wide of goal. 1:05PM 5 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia get up the pitch and win another corner. Both teams are attacking quickly and it's already entertaining. Serbia can't get space in the area thanks to the close attentions of the Costa Rica defence and Kolarov fouls Gamboa while trying to win the second ball from the corner. Costa Rica go long. 1:03PM 3 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 But now Costa Rica are in! Urena gets in behind the defence after a Ruiz pass puts him there and he wins a corner! Mitrovic is back defending now and powers a header away from goal. Calvo joins in down the left and hooks a swinging cross into the area and GONZALEZ IS THERE! But his header is straight at the goalkeeper! What a start this is! 1:01PM 2 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia start with the ball and Mitrovic gets a touch inside the area within 30 seconds. Corner. If he'd controlled that properly he was in for a shot from about 10 yards! The corner comes in and it's headed at goal! Navas looks frantic as he hops onto his other foot... but the referee has spotted a foul. The sign of things to come? 1:00PM KICK OFF Here we go! 12:55PM National anthems 12:54PM Here come the players! Costa Rica will be a 5-4-1 and try to keep things tight and take advantage of counter-attack situations while Serbia will be a 4-2-3-1. The wing-backs will get forward, the defence will be protected by Matic and Milivojevic and Milinkovic-Savic will support Mitrovic throughout. 12:47PM Evra's wearing a tin foil hat Paul Pogba's goal against Australia has been taken away from him. It's an own goal now (because it is...) and Evra has just said he wishes people would leave Paul alone. "If it was Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo I wonder if they would take that goal away," he says. Perhaps he's preparing some sort of speech about jet fuel and steel beams for half time. Patrice Evra showing surprise and actually *clapping* Eni Aluko’s analysis... awful, patronising— Omar Chaudhuri (@OmarChaudhuri) June 17, 2018 12:45PM The warm-ups Credit: GETTY IMAGES The players are just finishing their warm-ups and soon they'll be out on the pitch ready to put on a spectacle. Kolarov was holding his knee for a bit of it but I'm not sure if he's picked up a knock or something during his little pre-match routine. Now, if you'd like to get updates sent to your phone on Whatsapp, sign up for this thing we have here: World Cup whatsapp promo It keeps you up to date with all the news and scores from the games. 12:39PM Take care of the ball and the ball will take care of you Vladimir Stojkovic �� Serbia’s goalkeeper kisses the ball after every save he makes! #SRB#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/JEjD9gYCu8— Kay Murray (@KayLMurray) June 17, 2018 12:38PM Evra is impressed by a woman knowing football "Wow I'm really impressed, she knows more about the game than us," says Evra, in a somewhat* patronising way to Eni Aluko. Do your research pal. ITV have been pretty good at getting their pundits well read before going on air to be fair. Aluko has been explaining what makes Milinkovic-Savic such a threat, detailing his ability to play with the ball at feet but that he's also great at attacking and will support Mitrovic throughout today's game. *incredibly. 12:33PM The current and ex-pros' opinions "They're a strong defensive team but they don't score a lot of goals," says Eni Aluko of Costa Rica. Henrik Larsson and Patrice Evra make up the rest of ITV's pundits bench today. That's a strong lineup. 12:27PM Ivanovic becomes Serbia's all-time most capped player Credit: FIFA Today is his 104th cap, so assuming nothing changes before kick-off he will become the most capped player in the history of Serbia, surpassing Dejan Stankovic. But the real question is how tall is he compared to Mel from Mel and Sue? At 6 feet tall that makes him 1.something Mels from Mel and Sue. 12:24PM Inside the dressing rooms Credit: FIFA Credit: FIFA 12:22PM Our lovely new columnist Cesc Fabregas has joined our writing team for the World Cup and his first couple of columns are already up on the website. You can read his thoughts on Raheem Sterling here. Cesc Fabregas column: England's Raheem Sterling can deliver on the biggest stage 12:17PM Star players to look out for Keylor Navas is by far and away the best player on this Costa Rica team and according to my handy Football Manager database app (their database is used as a scouting tool by top level clubs around the world...), with an average rating of 81 he's way ahead of Borges and Campbell, both rated at 69. Bryan Ruiz shares the same rating... and then everything goes a bit south from there. Serbia meanwhile have some of the most highly rated young players in the world. Predrag Rajkovic is on the bench but at a base level 67 is expected to be about an 85 at some point in his career. I realise some of you might think I'm talking nonsense using a video game's database but their hit rate and accuracy is awesome. Matic - 78, Milinkovic-Savic -78, Adem Ljajic - 72, Aleksandar Kolarov -73... I think you get the idea. If Serbia can work their way around the Costa Rica low block and avoid making any particularly silly mistakes, they should really win this. 12:06PM Those teams in written form Costa Rica (3-5-2 / 5-4-1) Navas, Gamboa, Acosta, González, Duarte, Calvo, Venegas, Guzmán, Borges, Ruiz, Ureña Serbia (4-2-3-1) Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Tosic, Milenkovic, Kolarov, Milinkovic-Savic, Milivojevic, Matic, Ljajic, Tadic, Mitrovic Got to think Serbia are missing a trick leaving all the Football Manager wonderkids out. Zivkovic and Rajkovic on the bench? What is this - amateur hour? pic.twitter.com/LiPrSQumMX— JJ Bull (@jj_bull) June 17, 2018 12:00PM Starting lineups 10 'ic' and one Kolarov: Who's ready for the first match of the day? Here are the teams for #CRCSRB ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/np2DCvEQ78— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 17, 2018 11:59AM The best kits World Cup kits ranked 11:47AM Where is today's game? Well that would be the Samara Arena of course: World Cup 2018 stadium: Samara Arena And as we all know [looks down at phone] it is is the sixth largest city in Russia. This is what the stadium looks like.: Credit: FIFA And the inside is even cooler: Credit: REUTERS 11:40AM Welcome! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for Costa Rica vs Serbia, a match which should be really entertaining and one I'm looking forward to. Yesterday was another brilliant day of World Cup football notable for featuring several high profile VAR moments - it seems like having that extra help has really allowed referees to make some attack-minded decisions and goals make games great. So what to expect today? Serbia have the better (arguably - and I will argue it) group of players with several wonderkids supplemented by hardworking others. Nemanja Matic can run the midfield, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is one of the hottest prospects in football and Dusan Tadic is guaranteed to create chances to score. “As far as this story about me lacking experience, I don’t have any problem because I am working with professional players who prove themselves in clubs across Europe,” their manager Mladen Krstajic said. “My conscience is clear because we are working really well and have been together for three weeks. These are things that make me happy. “We have to be focused, responsible. When I met my squad for the first time I said let's relax, be friends off the pitch, but when comes to matches, everyone has to be responsible.” Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players In the red corner, Costa Rica aren't quite so strong but do have Keylor Navas in goal. You know, the Real Madrid guy. Yeh, him. Other than that, Arsenal's eternally nomadic loanee Joel Campbell is perhaps their best bet of getting a result with Celso Borges the most likely to set someone up for a goal. They didn't impress at all in defeat to England recently and were hammered by Belgium too - today is a massive test. Team news should be with us soon and I'll endeavour to bring you that as well as all the build-up and then analysis of the live action. Stick around to join in the fun.
Aleksandar Kolarov produced a ­moment of captain’s inspiration, curling home a superb free-kick as Serbia got their Group E campaign up and running on Sunday. The former Manchester City full-back had appeared to be injured in the warm-up but recovered to curl in the winner against Costa Rica. Serbia had dominated the match but chances were at a premium 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 lifted a weight from coach Mladen Krstajic, in what was his first competitive game. “There was a great deal of pressure on the team, and on me, over the past seven months,” said Krstajic, who took the job in October. Krstajic’s relief was matched in equal measure by the disappointment of Oscar Ramirez, the Costa Rica manager, whose side are now in a precarious position. “Maybe we have lost a certain margin for qualifying,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult, but our intention remains the same. I told the lads ‘This isn’t over’.” Aleksandar Kolarov struck a wonderful free-kick to win all three points for Serbia Credit: REUTERS If Costa Rica are going to recover, they will need to rediscover the defensive organisation and clinical counter-attacks that propelled them to the quarter-finals four years ago. Serbia found it hard to break them down, but they rarely looked troubled at the back and, barring a late half-chance for substitute Joel Campbell, they coasted through the game. The match began in furious ­fashion, with Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic having a header scooped off the line and Costa Rica’s Giancarlo Gonzalez failing to convert two headed chances. But it soon 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. Mitrovic failed to find the net with a good chance early in the second half, but it mattered little when Kolarov, the AS Roma left-back, produced his moment of magic, curling a free kick, left-footed, over the wall and past the despairing dive of Navas. “It is great to have three points, but we are not finished. I don’t want to do the maths yet,” Kolarov said. Match details Costa Rica (3-4-3): Navas (Real Madrid) 7; Gamboa (Celtic) 6, Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas) 6, Gonzalez (Bologna) 6; Duarte (Espanyol) 6, Calvo (Minnesota) 7, Venegas (Saprissa) 6, Guzman (Portland) 6; Borges (Coruna) 6, Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon) 6, Urena (Los Angeles) 5. Subs: Campbell (Arsenal) for Urena 73, Bolanos (Saprissa) for Venegas 60, Colindres (Saprissa) for Guzman 73. Booked: Guzman, Calvo. Serbia (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic (Partizan) 6; Ivanovic (Zenit) 6, Tosic (Besiktas) 6, Milenkovic (Fiorentina) 6, Kolarov (Roma) 7; Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) 8, Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) 6; Matic (Man Utd) 6, Ljajic (Torino) 7, Tadic (Southampton) 6; Mitrovic (Newcastle) 6. Subs: Kostic (Hamburg) for Ljajic 70, Rukavina (Villarreal) for Tadic 83, Prijovic (PAOK) for Mitrovic 90. Booked: Prijovic. Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal). 3:08PM Some full-time stats for you After losing five consecutive World Cup games between 1998 and 2010, Serbia have since won two of their last three in the competition (L1). Serbia have won their opening game at a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1998, when they did so as Yugoslavia against Iran (1-0). Serbia have now won all four of their World Cup games against teams from the CONCACAF region, with the first three of those coming as Yugoslavia between 1950 and 1998. Costa Rica suffered their first defeat at the World Cup since 2006 (1-2 v Poland), ending a run of five games unbeaten in the competition (W2 D3). And my favourite of all: Aleksandar Kolarov’s goal for Serbia was the third direct free-kick scored at this year’s World Cup (after Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo), which is already as many as there were in the entire 2014 tournament in Brazil. 3:05PM Next up It's Germany vs Mexico! Join Alan Tyers in our World Cup liveblog as he brings you the team news, updates and analysis from the match. 3:05PM The referee separating the players Credit: GETTY IMAGES This is that little rammy towards the end when Matic went nuts. It looks like the Costa Rica nine, Colindres, puts a full on slap on a Serbia player. Could be a red card, might not. I'd argue that the players are just getting fired up late on - if it had been earlier in the game then it would have been in the ref's interests to sort things out further. 3:02PM Who stood out there then? Let's do some player ratings. Costa Rica (3-4-3 / 5-4-1) Navas 7, Gamboa 6, Acosta 6, González 6, Duarte 6, Calvo 7, Venegas 6, Guzmán 6, Borges 6, Ruiz 6, Ureña 5 Serbia (4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2) Stojkovic 6, Ivanovic 6, Tosic 6, Milenkovic 6, Kolarov 7, Milinkovic-Savic 8, Milivojevic 6, Matic 6, Ljajic 6, Tadic 7, Mitrovic 5 2:58PM Analysis Average touch positions (full time) A game of one half. Specifically the right for Serbia and left for Costa Rica. Passes kept going down the one side of the pitch. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:55PM FULL TIME Credit: AFP And that's it! Serbia get a deserved win against a spirited Costa Rica. Kolarov's free-kick was a thing of wonder and has won the points. 2:54PM 90 mins +7 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 More controversy here. Prijovic has caught someone off the ball with his forearm and Acosta throws himself to the floor. Is this a red card? The VAR is in use! Aaaaand it's a yellow card. Another good decision (IMO). 2:52PM 90 mins +5 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 VAR time! The referee is reviewing that decision! He wants to see if Matic should be in more trouble... but the VAR says no. Seems fair. Costa Rica keep coming... the ball is hooked in, headed down IT'S A CHANCE FOR BOLANOS! And he's missed from six yards! Thankfully, the linesman calls offside and he is miles ahead of the last man. What a miss though. Dreadful finish. 2:50PM 90 mins +4 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 That's poor from the substitute Rukavina. He loses possession then doesn't try to win it back but now Serbia are on the counter-attack, with men over! And the ball's been lost. And now Matic is involved with the bench! He's getting all fired up needlessly with the Costa Rica staff. 2:49PM 90 mins +3 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick 40 yards out, hit it in the area and it;s headed away. Gamboa goes for a distance wondergoal but his long range effort is saved by the goalkeeper easily. 2:47PM 90 mins +1 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 M-Savic has had a superb game. His timing of pass and movement off the ball is excellent. Serbia take Mitrovic off for Prijovic. Serbia come forward again - they have men over! Kostic spots the chance to shoot but blasts over the bar. So many players have been jumping their shots miles over. Practise required. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Filip Kostic, 90 min) 2:45PM 89 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 MITROVIC IS IN AGAIN! And he's wasted the chance again! Oh my word. He's so very nearly a great player - gets in the right positions, is strong but his finishing isn't all that. And here he gets into the box, slows down to wait for the ball to roll ahead of his body and the Costa Rica defender goes down. Mitrovic goes down too but I suspect that's more a problem of balance than an actual foul. No VAR for this incident. 2:43PM 87 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Stojkovic gets someone to help him tie his shoelaces. Cunning time-wasting tactic? Or cruel window into a life spent never learning to tie shoelaces? Only he really knows. 2:41PM 85 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica are now focusing most of their play down the right, targeting Kolarov. Nothing's coming off at the moment now, they're running out of ideas. 2:39PM 82 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell's been lively since coming on but you can kind of tell he's not played much recently. A half yard off the pace on the ball has given Serbia defenders opportunity to rob him of possession. Rukavina comes on for Tadic, which is almost certainly to give Ivanovic back-up at right-back. It might mean a 5-4-1 for Serbia. 2:36PM 80 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell tries to work space for a shot on the edge of the area but is blocked. M-Savic pulls off another beautiful bit of skill to take the ball round the outside of a midfielder and puts Serbia on the attack. They're starting to look a little tired now... 2:35PM 78 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: TASS Ooooh that should be 2-0. Tadic gets in behind on the right and squares the pass into the six yard box. Navas dives at it, gets a tiny flick on it and Kostic has a side foot to finish in an empty net. He gets it all wrong though and the net is unharmed. 2:32PM 76 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Colindres comes on for Guzman, which means Costa Rica have used all their substitutions up. Serbia fire some passes together and link well. M-Savic has the chance to shoot 25 yards out, takes the chance but balloons his effort way over the bar. 2:30PM 74 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell is in behind! There's a lucky deflection and Campbell gets ahead of Milenkovic but just isn't sharp enough to beat him to the ball and get a shot away. Corner. The goalie comes to get the cross but is nowhere near it. Like someone's thrown a scarecrow into the air at the ball. Serbia survive and Mitrovic shields the ball high up the pitch. 2:29PM 72 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica free-kick wide left... Campbell takes it and a Serbian head puts it clear. Kostic tries to break but the ball goes out of play, Serbia go back to their 4-4-1-1 shape and get behind the ball. 2:27PM 70 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell goes on a little dribble into the box but Ljajic puts in a great tackle and wins the ball. Costa Rica in a clear 3-4-3 now and making much snappier passes. Now Serbia are taking their turn to defend with blocks of four. Ljajic comes off for Kostic. 2:24PM 68 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Here comes Joel Campbell! Urena heads off. Look at the difference in possession now! Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:22PM 66 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: GETTY IMAGES What a photo that is! The ball smashing into the back of the net from Kolarov's free-kick. Serbia have dropped really deep now they're 1-0 up... I wonder whether the best form of defence might actually be attacking Costa Rica more. They're inviting trouble like this. 2:20PM 64 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 1 - Kolarov has been the first Serbian player to score from direct free kick at the WC since Sinisa Mihajlovic v Iran on 14 June 1998 (including Yugoslavia). Southpaw. pic.twitter.com/yLePjJ0cmn— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 17, 2018 Costa Rica taking the game to Serbia now and Serbia are dropping further and further back. 2:18PM 62 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick in the final third but Serbia defend deep and head away. Costa Rica trying to get back into the game straight away. You're at your most vulnerable just after scoring goes the old saying. 2:16PM 60 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Serbia have the momentum now. Ljajic makes a run ahead of the defence and just can't get on the end of a chipped pass from Tadic. Will Costa Rica come out of their defensive shell now? 2:13PM GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! WHAT A HIT! KOLAVOC HAS SCORED! Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Aleksandar Kolarov, 56 min) Navas had absolutely no chance! It's a perfect free-kick, curled over the wall with power into the top corner. Goal: Serbia ( 56 min ) Unstoppable. 2:13PM 56 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win another free-kick in a dangerous area. Kolarov can shoot from here and seems to be lining one up. 2:12PM 55 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic gets a head on the ball as Duarte grabs hold of him in full view of the referee. Consistency in refereeing? There's not an awful lot of difference between that incident and the one yesterday that resulted in a penalty for Argentina. 2:11PM 54 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia enjoying more of the ball here. Kolarov curls a cross to the box and wins a corner as Calvo heads away at the back post. The referee has to sort out some pushing and pulling in the area. 2:09PM 52 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia are stretching the pitch and attacking through the middle more now. Although another cross from wide is collected from Navas. 2:08PM 50 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 HUGE MISS! Mitrovic breaks the offside trap, is one on one with Navas and his shot is terrible. Navas saves well but Mitrovic has to score there. What a massive moment that could prove to be. 2:07PM 49 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are on the right (light blue), Serbia the left (dark blue). 2:03PM 47 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic comes back to help out Ivanovic early on as Bryan Ruiz skins him on the left wing. No change of tactic here then. 2:02PM KICK-OFF 2 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica start the second half. We're back! 2:00PM Next up World Cup 2018 tactics: Why Germany's goalkeeper is key to how they attack Don't forget that after this game is Germany vs Mexico! You can join Alan Tyers in our liveblog coverage of that once this match is over. And not a moment sooner! Don't leave me. Please. 1:57PM Serbia's strikers Check the starting position of Milinkovic-Savic in possession. He's a central striker! Patrice Evra on him being linked with Man Utd: "You need to be a character, a personality. I'm afraid now you miss players playing for the passion. If you said 20 years ago Patrice you play for Manchester United and you don't even get paid, you do it." Doesn't really answer the question but I think I know what I mean. At least he hasn't literally applauded Aluko's football knowledge with this answer. 1:49PM Serbia's very attacking average positions That's a 2-4-4! Love it. Average touch positions (42 min) Look at the near-comical focus on one particular side of the pitch. Poor Ivanovic, he'll be knackered at the end of this. 1:47PM HALF TIME - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Thoroughly entertaining stuff there. Costa Rica targeting Ivanovic down the left and relying on quick counter-attacks, while Serbia have done well without really taking advantage of all their possession. Where there's Mitrovic there's a chance and Milinkovic-Savic has turned up in dangerous areas too. I can see a goal or two in the second half. 1:46PM 45 mins +1 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Borges should be booked for pulling Ljajic back just as he was about to get Serbia moving in the Costa Rica half... but Mitrovic is penalised for a tiny nudge on the back of Gonzalez. 1:44PM 44 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 MILINKOVIC-SAVIC BICYLE KICK! Saved by Navas! Wow. That would have been something else! Ivanovic chips into the box, the Lazio man goes for the spectacular, the linesman says he's offside. He isn't, so that goal would have counted if it had gone in. 1:42PM 42 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are enjoying the ball for a while. They've been on the back foot for quite a lot of the game so far, though this possession stat feels like it's way off. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia Calvo cuts inside from the left once more and tries a shot on his right foot... but drags it wide of the near post. Out: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Francisco Calvo, 42 min) 1:40PM 40 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ohhhh there's a slip in the Serbia defence by Tosic and it's given Costa Rica a chance to shoot. Urena takes it... but that's miles away. Calvo then wins a corner off Ivanovic, who isn't being given any peace. 1:37PM 38 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Both players appear OK to continue after a pause in play. What a collision that was though. Like a train battering into... another train. Or a Costa Rica defender. Anyway, they're alright. 1:35PM 36 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Tadic wins a free-kick right in the corner. The big lads come up for the set piece, which Kolarov will whip in as in in-swinger. Navas Superman throws himself at it and punches away and then Tosic batters into Acosta while going for a header and both are in a lot of pain. 1:34PM 34 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Ivanovic over-hits an early cross from wide right and puts it out for a goal kick. Costa Rica have been impressive with how they stop Serbia's build-up play. By blocking the passing option, Serbia don't really have anywhere to go other than long but are trying to keep the ball in defence until an opportunity to get forward opens up. 1:30PM 31 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are blocking the Serbian passing lanes with three forwards and two midfielders behind them, and it's forcing the defenders to really think about where they move the ball so as not to concede possession in a dangerous counter-attacking area. Once the ball is past the halfway line Costa Rica are a 5-4-1... Serbia need another option. And there it is - the chipped pass to Mitrovic. 1:28PM 29 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Bit chance! Super run off the ball by Milinkovic-Savic but he doesn't get the ball out of his feet as a pass over the top puts him through on goal. A low shot is saved easily by Navas but the offside flag had one anyway. He gets away with that miss. 1:26PM 27 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great take by Tadic. The pass is fired straight at him at pace and he controls and flicks the ball on to keep a move going. It just won't drop for Mitrovic in the area and his shot is blocked. 1:24PM 25 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: AFP Serbia are focusing their attacks through the middle then moving play out to the right wing once in the final third. Costa Rica survive another decent move but Serbia are back in possession. You can see they're favouring that right wing here: Serbia crosses Calvo is the left wing-back and is on a yellow card now too. 1:22PM 23 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica get in down the left again though and... that's a shocking tackle. He doesn't mean to go in as heavy as he does but Calvo is rightly booked for a late slide tackle near the corner on Tadic. That's the sort of challenge you put in for a laugh on Pro Evo. 1:21PM 21 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia switch the play a couple of times but Costa Rica look organised and shift over to deny the space and win possession back. Serbia are getting Tadic deeper with Matic helping out on the right now to make sure Ivanovic isn't exposed. 1:19PM 19 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia win a free-kick about 35 yards from goal and this will be aimed towards Mitrovic. The referee has to tell Guzman to stand further back from the kick but doesn't book him. The ball goes in, is headed at the back post... and Costa Rica manage to get it away then drop into their low block. 1:16PM 17 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Great save by Navas! Serbia have men over, Ivanovic overlaps down the right and dribbles past his man but Navas blocks the low cross into the area. Serbia might be in again! Tadic chips to the back post for Mitrovic but nobody is following up. Milinkovic-Savic has had a couple of lovely touches in the approach play to both those moves. 1:14PM 15 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Mitrovic receives the ball on the edge of the box, moves it onto his right foot and shoots but the effort is blocked and Navas catches. Costa Rica attack down the left wing again - they're targeting Ivanovic at right-back. Serbia look ropey at the back here. A dreadful pass forward has nearly gifted Costa Rica the chance to break with an overload but the centre-backs just about to manage to see out the danger. 1:12PM 13 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 FREE HEADER! What a miss! Oh my word. A short corner, the second cross gives Gonzalez a completely free header. Dreadful defending from Serbia - what were they doing there? Total chaos in the second phase of that set piece and Costa Rica should be 1-0 up. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 0 Serbia (Giancarlo González, 12 min) Gonzalez can't believe he's put that miles over the bar. 1:11PM 11 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Costa Rica are looking to use their pace to take on the full-backs. Ivanovic and Kolarov aren't the young men they once were but still have a bit speed left in the legs - Costa Rica look like they might have the running of them though. Costa Rica win a corner. 1:09PM 9 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Costa Rica are quick and break with three forwards. It's not quite coming together for them in the final third for now but they've been able to run with the ball in Serbia's half a couple of times now. 1:07PM 7 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mitrovic is causing problems with his strength upfront and Serbia are looking for him with long throws and chipped passes. Serbia attack through the middle, the ball drops to Kolarov and he tries a shot from 30 yards but pings it wide of goal. 1:05PM 5 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia get up the pitch and win another corner. Both teams are attacking quickly and it's already entertaining. Serbia can't get space in the area thanks to the close attentions of the Costa Rica defence and Kolarov fouls Gamboa while trying to win the second ball from the corner. Costa Rica go long. 1:03PM 3 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 But now Costa Rica are in! Urena gets in behind the defence after a Ruiz pass puts him there and he wins a corner! Mitrovic is back defending now and powers a header away from goal. Calvo joins in down the left and hooks a swinging cross into the area and GONZALEZ IS THERE! But his header is straight at the goalkeeper! What a start this is! 1:01PM 2 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 0 Serbia start with the ball and Mitrovic gets a touch inside the area within 30 seconds. Corner. If he'd controlled that properly he was in for a shot from about 10 yards! The corner comes in and it's headed at goal! Navas looks frantic as he hops onto his other foot... but the referee has spotted a foul. The sign of things to come? 1:00PM KICK OFF Here we go! 12:55PM National anthems 12:54PM Here come the players! Costa Rica will be a 5-4-1 and try to keep things tight and take advantage of counter-attack situations while Serbia will be a 4-2-3-1. The wing-backs will get forward, the defence will be protected by Matic and Milivojevic and Milinkovic-Savic will support Mitrovic throughout. 12:47PM Evra's wearing a tin foil hat Paul Pogba's goal against Australia has been taken away from him. It's an own goal now (because it is...) and Evra has just said he wishes people would leave Paul alone. "If it was Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo I wonder if they would take that goal away," he says. Perhaps he's preparing some sort of speech about jet fuel and steel beams for half time. Patrice Evra showing surprise and actually *clapping* Eni Aluko’s analysis... awful, patronising— Omar Chaudhuri (@OmarChaudhuri) June 17, 2018 12:45PM The warm-ups Credit: GETTY IMAGES The players are just finishing their warm-ups and soon they'll be out on the pitch ready to put on a spectacle. Kolarov was holding his knee for a bit of it but I'm not sure if he's picked up a knock or something during his little pre-match routine. Now, if you'd like to get updates sent to your phone on Whatsapp, sign up for this thing we have here: World Cup whatsapp promo It keeps you up to date with all the news and scores from the games. 12:39PM Take care of the ball and the ball will take care of you Vladimir Stojkovic �� Serbia’s goalkeeper kisses the ball after every save he makes! #SRB#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/JEjD9gYCu8— Kay Murray (@KayLMurray) June 17, 2018 12:38PM Evra is impressed by a woman knowing football "Wow I'm really impressed, she knows more about the game than us," says Evra, in a somewhat* patronising way to Eni Aluko. Do your research pal. ITV have been pretty good at getting their pundits well read before going on air to be fair. Aluko has been explaining what makes Milinkovic-Savic such a threat, detailing his ability to play with the ball at feet but that he's also great at attacking and will support Mitrovic throughout today's game. *incredibly. 12:33PM The current and ex-pros' opinions "They're a strong defensive team but they don't score a lot of goals," says Eni Aluko of Costa Rica. Henrik Larsson and Patrice Evra make up the rest of ITV's pundits bench today. That's a strong lineup. 12:27PM Ivanovic becomes Serbia's all-time most capped player Credit: FIFA Today is his 104th cap, so assuming nothing changes before kick-off he will become the most capped player in the history of Serbia, surpassing Dejan Stankovic. But the real question is how tall is he compared to Mel from Mel and Sue? At 6 feet tall that makes him 1.something Mels from Mel and Sue. 12:24PM Inside the dressing rooms Credit: FIFA Credit: FIFA 12:22PM Our lovely new columnist Cesc Fabregas has joined our writing team for the World Cup and his first couple of columns are already up on the website. You can read his thoughts on Raheem Sterling here. Cesc Fabregas column: England's Raheem Sterling can deliver on the biggest stage 12:17PM Star players to look out for Keylor Navas is by far and away the best player on this Costa Rica team and according to my handy Football Manager database app (their database is used as a scouting tool by top level clubs around the world...), with an average rating of 81 he's way ahead of Borges and Campbell, both rated at 69. Bryan Ruiz shares the same rating... and then everything goes a bit south from there. Serbia meanwhile have some of the most highly rated young players in the world. Predrag Rajkovic is on the bench but at a base level 67 is expected to be about an 85 at some point in his career. I realise some of you might think I'm talking nonsense using a video game's database but their hit rate and accuracy is awesome. Matic - 78, Milinkovic-Savic -78, Adem Ljajic - 72, Aleksandar Kolarov -73... I think you get the idea. If Serbia can work their way around the Costa Rica low block and avoid making any particularly silly mistakes, they should really win this. 12:06PM Those teams in written form Costa Rica (3-5-2 / 5-4-1) Navas, Gamboa, Acosta, González, Duarte, Calvo, Venegas, Guzmán, Borges, Ruiz, Ureña Serbia (4-2-3-1) Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Tosic, Milenkovic, Kolarov, Milinkovic-Savic, Milivojevic, Matic, Ljajic, Tadic, Mitrovic Got to think Serbia are missing a trick leaving all the Football Manager wonderkids out. Zivkovic and Rajkovic on the bench? What is this - amateur hour? pic.twitter.com/LiPrSQumMX— JJ Bull (@jj_bull) June 17, 2018 12:00PM Starting lineups 10 'ic' and one Kolarov: Who's ready for the first match of the day? Here are the teams for #CRCSRB ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/np2DCvEQ78— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) June 17, 2018 11:59AM The best kits World Cup kits ranked 11:47AM Where is today's game? Well that would be the Samara Arena of course: World Cup 2018 stadium: Samara Arena And as we all know [looks down at phone] it is is the sixth largest city in Russia. This is what the stadium looks like.: Credit: FIFA And the inside is even cooler: Credit: REUTERS 11:40AM Welcome! Hello and welcome to our liveblog for Costa Rica vs Serbia, a match which should be really entertaining and one I'm looking forward to. Yesterday was another brilliant day of World Cup football notable for featuring several high profile VAR moments - it seems like having that extra help has really allowed referees to make some attack-minded decisions and goals make games great. So what to expect today? Serbia have the better (arguably - and I will argue it) group of players with several wonderkids supplemented by hardworking others. Nemanja Matic can run the midfield, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is one of the hottest prospects in football and Dusan Tadic is guaranteed to create chances to score. “As far as this story about me lacking experience, I don’t have any problem because I am working with professional players who prove themselves in clubs across Europe,” their manager Mladen Krstajic said. “My conscience is clear because we are working really well and have been together for three weeks. These are things that make me happy. “We have to be focused, responsible. When I met my squad for the first time I said let's relax, be friends off the pitch, but when comes to matches, everyone has to be responsible.” Russia World Cup in pictures: Best photos of teams, games and players In the red corner, Costa Rica aren't quite so strong but do have Keylor Navas in goal. You know, the Real Madrid guy. Yeh, him. Other than that, Arsenal's eternally nomadic loanee Joel Campbell is perhaps their best bet of getting a result with Celso Borges the most likely to set someone up for a goal. They didn't impress at all in defeat to England recently and were hammered by Belgium too - today is a massive test. Team news should be with us soon and I'll endeavour to bring you that as well as all the build-up and then analysis of the live action. Stick around to join in the fun.
Aleksandar Kolarov scores sensational free-kick as Serbia claim hard-fought World Cup 2018 win against Costa Rica
Aleksandar Kolarov produced a ­moment of captain’s inspiration, curling home a superb free-kick as Serbia got their Group E campaign up and running on Sunday. The former Manchester City full-back had appeared to be injured in the warm-up but recovered to curl in the winner against Costa Rica. Serbia had dominated the match but chances were at a premium 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 lifted a weight from coach Mladen Krstajic, in what was his first competitive game. “There was a great deal of pressure on the team, and on me, over the past seven months,” said Krstajic, who took the job in October. Krstajic’s relief was matched in equal measure by the disappointment of Oscar Ramirez, the Costa Rica manager, whose side are now in a precarious position. “Maybe we have lost a certain margin for qualifying,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult, but our intention remains the same. I told the lads ‘This isn’t over’.” Aleksandar Kolarov struck a wonderful free-kick to win all three points for Serbia Credit: REUTERS If Costa Rica are going to recover, they will need to rediscover the defensive organisation and clinical counter-attacks that propelled them to the quarter-finals four years ago. Serbia found it hard to break them down, but they rarely looked troubled at the back and, barring a late half-chance for substitute Joel Campbell, they coasted through the game. The match began in furious ­fashion, with Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic having a header scooped off the line and Costa Rica’s Giancarlo Gonzalez failing to convert two headed chances. But it soon 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. Mitrovic failed to find the net with a good chance early in the second half, but it mattered little when Kolarov, the AS Roma left-back, produced his moment of magic, curling a free kick, left-footed, over the wall and past the despairing dive of Navas. “It is great to have three points, but we are not finished. I don’t want to do the maths yet,” Kolarov said. Match details Costa Rica (3-4-3): Navas (Real Madrid) 7; Gamboa (Celtic) 6, Acosta (Rionegro Aguilas) 6, Gonzalez (Bologna) 6; Duarte (Espanyol) 6, Calvo (Minnesota) 7, Venegas (Saprissa) 6, Guzman (Portland) 6; Borges (Coruna) 6, Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon) 6, Urena (Los Angeles) 5. Subs: Campbell (Arsenal) for Urena 73, Bolanos (Saprissa) for Venegas 60, Colindres (Saprissa) for Guzman 73. Booked: Guzman, Calvo. Serbia (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic (Partizan) 6; Ivanovic (Zenit) 6, Tosic (Besiktas) 6, Milenkovic (Fiorentina) 6, Kolarov (Roma) 7; Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) 8, Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) 6; Matic (Man Utd) 6, Ljajic (Torino) 7, Tadic (Southampton) 6; Mitrovic (Newcastle) 6. Subs: Kostic (Hamburg) for Ljajic 70, Rukavina (Villarreal) for Tadic 83, Prijovic (PAOK) for Mitrovic 90. Booked: Prijovic. Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal). 3:08PM Some full-time stats for you After losing five consecutive World Cup games between 1998 and 2010, Serbia have since won two of their last three in the competition (L1). Serbia have won their opening game at a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1998, when they did so as Yugoslavia against Iran (1-0). Serbia have now won all four of their World Cup games against teams from the CONCACAF region, with the first three of those coming as Yugoslavia between 1950 and 1998. Costa Rica suffered their first defeat at the World Cup since 2006 (1-2 v Poland), ending a run of five games unbeaten in the competition (W2 D3). And my favourite of all: Aleksandar Kolarov’s goal for Serbia was the third direct free-kick scored at this year’s World Cup (after Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo), which is already as many as there were in the entire 2014 tournament in Brazil. 3:05PM Next up It's Germany vs Mexico! Join Alan Tyers in our World Cup liveblog as he brings you the team news, updates and analysis from the match. 3:05PM The referee separating the players Credit: GETTY IMAGES This is that little rammy towards the end when Matic went nuts. It looks like the Costa Rica nine, Colindres, puts a full on slap on a Serbia player. Could be a red card, might not. I'd argue that the players are just getting fired up late on - if it had been earlier in the game then it would have been in the ref's interests to sort things out further. 3:02PM Who stood out there then? Let's do some player ratings. Costa Rica (3-4-3 / 5-4-1) Navas 7, Gamboa 6, Acosta 6, González 6, Duarte 6, Calvo 7, Venegas 6, Guzmán 6, Borges 6, Ruiz 6, Ureña 5 Serbia (4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2) Stojkovic 6, Ivanovic 6, Tosic 6, Milenkovic 6, Kolarov 7, Milinkovic-Savic 8, Milivojevic 6, Matic 6, Ljajic 6, Tadic 7, Mitrovic 5 2:58PM Analysis Average touch positions (full time) A game of one half. Specifically the right for Serbia and left for Costa Rica. Passes kept going down the one side of the pitch. Possession: Costa Rica vs Serbia 2:55PM FULL TIME Credit: AFP And that's it! Serbia get a deserved win against a spirited Costa Rica. Kolarov's free-kick was a thing of wonder and has won the points. 2:54PM 90 mins +7 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 More controversy here. Prijovic has caught someone off the ball with his forearm and Acosta throws himself to the floor. Is this a red card? The VAR is in use! Aaaaand it's a yellow card. Another good decision (IMO). 2:52PM 90 mins +5 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 VAR time! The referee is reviewing that decision! He wants to see if Matic should be in more trouble... but the VAR says no. Seems fair. Costa Rica keep coming... the ball is hooked in, headed down IT'S A CHANCE FOR BOLANOS! And he's missed from six yards! Thankfully, the linesman calls offside and he is miles ahead of the last man. What a miss though. Dreadful finish. 2:50PM 90 mins +4 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 That's poor from the substitute Rukavina. He loses possession then doesn't try to win it back but now Serbia are on the counter-attack, with men over! And the ball's been lost. And now Matic is involved with the bench! He's getting all fired up needlessly with the Costa Rica staff. 2:49PM 90 mins +3 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica have a free-kick 40 yards out, hit it in the area and it;s headed away. Gamboa goes for a distance wondergoal but his long range effort is saved by the goalkeeper easily. 2:47PM 90 mins +1 - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 M-Savic has had a superb game. His timing of pass and movement off the ball is excellent. Serbia take Mitrovic off for Prijovic. Serbia come forward again - they have men over! Kostic spots the chance to shoot but blasts over the bar. So many players have been jumping their shots miles over. Practise required. Miss: Costa Rica 0 - 1 Serbia (Filip Kostic, 90 min) 2:45PM 89 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 MITROVIC IS IN AGAIN! And he's wasted the chance again! Oh my word. He's so very nearly a great player - gets in the right positions, is strong but his finishing isn't all that. And here he gets into the box, slows down to wait for the ball to roll ahead of his body and the Costa Rica defender goes down. Mitrovic goes down too but I suspect that's more a problem of balance than an actual foul. No VAR for this incident. 2:43PM 87 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Stojkovic gets someone to help him tie his shoelaces. Cunning time-wasting tactic? Or cruel window into a life spent never learning to tie shoelaces? Only he really knows. 2:41PM 85 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Costa Rica are now focusing most of their play down the right, targeting Kolarov. Nothing's coming off at the moment now, they're running out of ideas. 2:39PM 82 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell's been lively since coming on but you can kind of tell he's not played much recently. A half yard off the pace on the ball has given Serbia defenders opportunity to rob him of possession. Rukavina comes on for Tadic, which is almost certainly to give Ivanovic back-up at right-back. It might mean a 5-4-1 for Serbia. 2:36PM 80 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell tries to work space for a shot on the edge of the area but is blocked. M-Savic pulls off another beautiful bit of skill to take the ball round the outside of a midfielder and puts Serbia on the attack. They're starting to look a little tired now... 2:35PM 78 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Credit: TASS Ooooh that should be 2-0. Tadic gets in behind on the right and squares the pass into the six yard box. Navas dives at it, gets a tiny flick on it and Kostic has a side foot to finish in an empty net. He gets it all wrong though and the net is unharmed. 2:32PM 76 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Colindres comes on for Guzman, which means Costa Rica have used all their substitutions up. Serbia fire some passes together and link well. M-Savic has the chance to shoot 25 yards out, takes the chance but balloons his effort way over the bar. 2:30PM 74 mins - Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1 Campbell is in behind! There's a luc