Captain Kolarov fires Serbia to victory over Costa Rica

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Costa Rica's goalkeeper Keylor Navas (R) saves the ball ahead of Serbia's forward Filip Kostic (L) during the Russian Federation 2018 World Cup Group E football match between Costa Rica and Serbia at the Samara Arena in Samara on June 17, 2018.

"The Serbians did their homework very well", Costa Rica coach Oscar Ramirez said.

Costa Rica started brightly, with Vladimir Stojkovic diving to save at the feet of Marcos Urena, before Giancarlo Gonzalez headed straight at the Serbia goalkeeper. And I think it was a tight match.

"We knew that set pieces were our forte", said Kolarov, who now plays for Roma after a stint with Manchester City.

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"We had our tactical plan in place and, with the subs, we tried to attack them on the wings".

They did create some better opportunities after the break, but the goal came from a superb Kolarov strike from a dead ball.

Most of the Serbian national team's players are now playing in major European leagues, including their 29-year-old star holding midfielder Nemanja Matic, who is indispensable in the Manchester United midfield.

Mitrovic spurned another gilt-edged opportunity in the latter stages after being played in Milinkovic-Savic, losing his footing as he was challenged by Gonzalez. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Mitrovic began to combine well after the first 30 minutes.

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The 25-year-old has been at Arsenal for seven years making just 40 appearances, having gone on loan to six different clubs in that time.

"We know everything about Switzerland and now we will watch then against Brazil to make sure we don't miss everything".

A brilliant free kick by Aleksandar Kolarov sealed victory for Serbia in their opening game of the World Cup Finals against Costa Rica in Group E on Sunday (June 17).

And Serbia were nearly punished for their lack of penetration when Francisco Calvo dragged a strike wide as Costa Rica enjoyed a short spell of possession just before the break.

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Costa Rica literally translates as "Rich Coast", but Los Ticos put in a relatively poor performance in comparison to their previous campaign, where they brought life into the so-called "Group of Death" alongside three former World Cup champions in England, Italy and Uruguay.