Captain Kolarov fires Serbia to victory over Costa Rica

Costa Rica v Serbia starts at 1pm on Sunday

The Eagles were presented with another opening soon after as Mitrovic's deflected strike from inside the box was comfortably gathered by Keylor Navas, before a quiet spell ensued.

That was to prove the only goal of a fractious and largely ho-hum affair.

Ten minutes after the restart, Kolarov lined up the free kick out wide and from some distance out.

Yet Serbia, appearing in a first World Cup finals since South Africa 2010, will be wary of allowing complacency to creep in.

Here's hoping things start opening up a bit as the group stage progresses.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, whose non-selection during qualifying led to Slavo Muslin's sacking as Serbia coach, nearly broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time, but his overhead kick was well kept out by Real Madrid 'keeper Keylor Navas in the Costa Rica goal. Oscar Ramirez introduced Arsenal's Joel Campbell as Costa Rica chased an equaliser, and the forward had appeals for a penalty waved away when he went down under pressure from Dusko Tosic.

The victory gave the Serbians the early advantage in a tough Group E, which also includes five-time champion Brazil and Switzerland.

There was a late scuffle as Nemanja Matic tried to take the ball off a member of the Costa Rican staff on the sidelines, before a VAR red-card review saw Aleksandar Prijovic booked for a separate incident, but Serbia held on with relative ease for a potentially priceless win.

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In a Group E curtain-jerker that was a little short on quality, it took a moment of brilliance from Aleksandar Kolvarov to snatch the win for Serbia against Costa Rica.

Aleksandar Kolarov scored the third direct free-kick of the tournament so far, the same amount that were converted in the entirety of the 2014 World Cup.

Celebrating his 34th birthday in February, many would have forgiven former Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic for slowing down but against Costa Rica he showed no signs of doing so.

Instead, came close to a second goal at the other end of the park in the 75 minute when Milinkovic-Savic sent a thunderous 25-yard effort just over the crossbar.

Now with Italian club Lazio, rumours have swirled that Manchester United might be interested in the dynamic 23-year-old midfielder.

"From what I've seen in the locker room, we still believe", the Costa Rica coach said.

In a bad position after losing, Costa Rica will quickly need to pick themselves up ahead of their second game - against tournament favourites Brazil in five days' time.

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