Aleksandar Kolarov's brilliant second-half free-kick saw Serbia beat Costa Rica in their opening Group E contest on Sunday.

The Serbs won the game thanks to captain Kolarov's wonderful strike 11 minutes into the second half, the third direct free-kick already at this World Cup.

Mladen Krstajic's side held out comfortably thereafter in Samara to get their campaign off to a winning start, with Costa Rica lacking the cutting edge to really threaten their opponents.

In a tight and evenly-matched first half, it was Costa Rica who created the best opening before the break, only for unmarked centre-back Giancarlo Gonzalez to head wastefully over the bar after a nicely worked short corner.

Serbia controlled large parts of the opening 45 minutes, although the closest they came to actually breaking the deadlock was an acrobatic overhead kick from Aleksandar Mitrovic a minute before the interval.

Mitrovic's effort produced a smart reaction stop from Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas and despite the flag going up for offside, the Newcastle United forward's audacious effort would in fact have stood had it gone in and been referred to VAR.

Serbia really should have opened the scoring five minutes after the break, only for Mitrovic to fluff the chance, having been played clean through by Sergej Milinkovic-Savic's astute pass.

However, that miss was soon forgotten as Kolarov – who almost did not make the game after picking up a leg injury in the warm-up – beat Navas from distance.


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