Kolarov has decisive say in Serbia’s victory
ALEKSANDAR KOLAROV struck a superb free-kick as Serbia opened their World Cup campaign with victory over Costa Rica in Samara.
The former Manchester City defender fired home in trademark fashion as Serbia were rewarded for their dominance of the Group E fixture 11 minutes into the second half.
Costa Rica, who reached the quarter-finals in Brazil four years ago, paid the price for failing to make the most of some good chances in the first half.
Their frustrations spilled over in stoppage-time as some members of their coaching staff became involved in heated exchanges with Serbia’s Nemanja Matic over a throw-in on the touchline.
Their early opportunities had come despite Serbia, being driven forward by the impressive Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, controlling for large spells.
Costa Rica’s best opening came when Giancarlo Gonzalez was picked out unmarked at the far post by David Guzman following a short corner routine, but he headed well over.
Marco Urena had earlier shot at Vladimir Stojkovic after being played through by Bryan Ruiz and he spurned another chance when he fired over from a Celso Borges ball.
Francisco Calvo also went close late in the first half, but dragged his attempt wide.
Milinkovic-Savic underlined his ability when he connected with an overhead kick just before the break, but it proved a comfortable save for Keylor Navas.
Serbia took confidence from that and threatened much more after the interval.
Newcastle’s Aleksandar Mitrovic failed to make the most of two opportunities. But in the 56th minute Mitrovic was fouled by Guzman around 30 yards from goal and Kolarov curled a powerful effort over the wall and inside Navas’s left-hand post.