Serbia Surprise: Eagles have early advantage in group play

Serbia opened up its World Cup campaign on Sunday with a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica in Group E thanks to a delightful free-kick goal from Aleksandar Kolarov in the second half.

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

Their opponents in Samara famously reached the quarter-finals four years ago after topping a group including former winners England, Italy and Uruguay.

Tadic, 29, came into the tournament after an inconsistent season, but one he finished strongly, providing three assists in his final seven games.

These two sides began their Russian Federation 2018 campaign under sunny Samara skies on Sunday but despite the abundant quality on show, profligacy was the underlying theme until Aleksandar Kolarov struck in spectacular fashion just prior to the hour to earn a 1-0 win for his side. So, in the office bet365 have set a ratio of 1.95 for the win of Golden lilies, and on the success of Costa Rica to 4.75.

Serbia's victorious national team didn't get to watch the match between group rivals Brazil and Switzerland because it had a late-night flight out of Samara.

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Serbia threatened in the opening seconds, Aleksandar Mitrovic flicking on dangerously from an early corner before Giancarlo Gonzalez cleared. The match is the first one on Day 4 of the FIFA World Cup in Russian Federation. Not only that but his country, Serbia, could prove to be one of the dark horses in this World Cup. "I'm really happy, but it is a huge responsibility", said Costa Rica head coach Oscar Ramirez.

The coach also suggested the team spirit in the Serbian camp had been different than in recent years.

Arsenal forward Joel Campbell looks likely to leave the club this summer, but is not letting stories of an exit distract him from the World Cup.

We have been treated quite well in the early stages of this World Cup.

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

Costa Rica has only been able to grab two wins in their last 10 encounters and have not having the best time in the previous games.

  • Michelle Webb