Stephan Lichsteiner speaks out on Granit Xhaka celebration

23 Juin, 2018, 22:08 | Auteur: Adelaide Bullion
  • REUTERS  Marko Djurica

Both players pointedly celebrated scoring by making a double eagle gesture with their hands to represent the Albanian flag, with which many people in Kosovo identify. "In football, you have always emotions".

Both Shaqiri and Xhaka have roots in Kosovo, a former province of Serbia that has declared independence, a fact that stoked tensions before and during Friday's clash. I spoke to the father of one of our players who is Albanian, and he told me about this history.

Arsenal midfielder Xhaka was born to Albanian parents originally from Serbia.

Xhaka also said his celebration was an emotional one and not political: "Frankly, my opponents did not interest me at all". I think we all together need to steer away from politics in football and we should focus on this sport as a attractive game and something that brings people together.

Switzerland's coach, Vladimir Petkovic, added: "You should never mix politics and football". "It's a wonderful atmosphere and a positive experience and that's what football should be about".

Serbian coach Mladen Krstajic insisted: "I don't have any comment". "I don't deal with these things".

"I think it was a great pass from Gavranovic and I went deep", said Shaqiri.

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The win puts Switzerland top of World Cup Group E, with a game to play against already-eliminated Costa Rica. The Swiss will advance to the round of 16 if they beat Costa Rica on Wednesday in Nizhny Novgorod.

Shaqiri had hit the crossbar in the first half before substitute Mario Gavranovic played him in to grab the dramatic victor.

BBC Monitoring reports that in Serbia, pro-government newspaper Informer used a derogatory term for Albanians, saying "the Albanian clan within "clockmakers" team was sending poisoned arrows weeks before, so the match couldn't pass without a provocation". Mitrovic came close in the 19th minute when he controlled a cross from Branislav Ivanovic on his chest and sent a bicycle kick over the bar.

If Switzerland win, Serbia - playing Brazil at the same time - will also need to win to progress.

Shaqiri's runs down the wings were a constant threat to Serbia's defense, while the Swiss midfield recovered after a shaky start to dominate in the same way it did against Brazil in their first match. The Swiss decision to put two defenders on him paid off in the second half, though Serbia had a strong appeal for a penalty when two defenders appeared to wrestle Mitrovic to the ground as he tried to head a cross.

Serbia took the 1-0 advantage into the half before Xhaka struck.

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