Serbia’s captain Aleksandar Kolarov was the difference in Samara as his wonderful free-kick earned his country a 1-0 win over Costa Rica
The first half was an even affair with Costa Rica centre half Giancarlo Gonzalez having the clearest opportunity. A flighted cross found the unmarked Gonzalez who could only head over at the back post.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic was the creative spark for Serbia but failed to seriously test Real Madrid’s Keylor Navas.
The second half needed a goal to open up the game and it duly game from the left foot of Kolarov on 56 minutes.
His free kick just outside the box was superbly struck over the wall into the top corner, sending Serbian fans wild.
In a side packed with flair players behind the animal that is Aleksander Mitrovic, there were glimpses of beautiful interchanges with the likes of Milinkovic Savic, Dusan Tadic and Filip Kostic. The latter had a chance when Tadic fizzed a ball across, which evaded Navas but Kostic couldn’t adjust to finish.
For Costa Rica, there achievements four years ago were incredible in reaching the quarter-finals but to now get out of the group will be a tall order with Brazil to play, it’s the perfect start for the Serbs.