Friday’s 2018 FIFA World Cup action features three games: Brazil vs. Costa Rica, Nigeria vs. Iceland and Switzerland vs. Serbia. Check below for game reports, highlights and other key facts from World Cup 2018 Day 8.
4 p.m. ET, Serbia 1, Switzerland 2: “X” marks the winning spot for Switzerland’s soccer team.
Switzerland defeated Serbia 2-1 on Friday in Group E on Xherdan Shaqiri’s last-minute goal. The win moves Switzerland into second place, behind Brazil on goal differential. Serbia falls to third place with the loss, but trail Brazil and Switzerland by just one point.
Serbia snatched the lead after just five minutes when Aleksandar Mitrovic headed in Dusan Tadic’s delivery.
Switzerland shook off the slow start and improved over the course of the first half. Vladimir Petkovic made two substitutions at halftime, and Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka rewarded his team for his coach’s bravery with this stunning strike in the 52nd minute.
Despite maintaining the initiative against Serbia during the second half, Switzerland struggled to create many chances through patient build-up play. Instead, the Swiss struck goal by going direct in the 90th minute with Shaqiri running onto substitute winger Mario Gavranovic’s through-pass and beat Serbia goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic with a clever finish.
Switzerland’s win marked the first come-from-behind victory at World Cup 2018, according to Opta. It’s about time we’ve seen one.
Man of the Match: Petkovic reportedly called on Shaqiri this week to improve his World Cup performances. The Swiss midfielder responded with a MOTM performance.
Next up: Serbia will face off with Brazil at 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday, while Switzerland will play Costa Rica in their Group E finales.
1 p.m. ET, Nigeria 2, Iceland 0 (Final): Super Eagles can fly in Russian air space after all.
Nigeria defeated Iceland 2-0 on Friday in their 2018 FIFA World Cup Group D game. The result lifts Nigeria into second place in the Group D standings. Iceland is tied with Argentina on points but occupies third place due to its superior goal differential.
The first half of a game was an unqualified dud, but fireworks started early in the second period when Nigeria striker Ahmed Musa demonstrated his skills for the global audience. His 49th-minute goal was one of the best of World Cup 2018 so far.
Musa struck again in the 75th minute, finishing his fine solo dribbling effort on his own.
Iceland would have cut Nigeria’s lead in half if playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson converted a VAR-awarded penalty kick, but his missed effort aptly represents his team’s loss to Nigeria.
Man of the Match: Ahmed Musa’s two goals netted him MOTM honors and further cemented him as a Nigerian soccer icon.
Next up: Nigeria will play Argentina, and Iceland will take on Croatia at 2 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
10 a.m. ET, Brazil 2, Costa Rica 0 (Final): Philippe Coutinho is determined to put Brazil on the winning track at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The Brazil midfielder scored the winning goal two minutes into second-half injury time Friday in his team’s World Cup Group E game against Costa Rica. Neymar then scored Brazil’s second goal six minutes later for added emphasis.
The win moves Brazil into first place in the group, with Serbia and Switzerland will play later Friday. The loss confirms Costa Rica’s exit from the World Cup.
As expected Brazil, dominated the game from start to finish but the tournament favorite failed to breach Costa Rica’s stingy defense for the first 90-plus minutes. The closest Brazil came to scoring was early in the second half when striker Gabriel Jesus shot off the crossbar.
Neymar later thought he had won a penalty kick, but the referee used video replay to overturn his own call.
The game appeared destined to end in a draw and Brazil’s second frustrating result in two World Cup 2018 games, but Coutinho dramatically changed the plot with this 91st-minute goal.
Based on its performance over the course of the game, Costa Rica always was unlikely to score the tying goal. Nevertheless, Neymar eliminated the scenario in the 97th minute by volleying home Douglas Costa’s cross from close range.
Neymar’s goal also was historic, as it was the latest goal scored in a World Cup game since 1966, per Opta.
Despite defending bravely for all but the last few minutes, Costa Rica never mounted much of a threat, and Brazil’s win was a justifiable result.
Neymar only could cry tears of joy after the final whistle.
Man of the Match: In the two World Cup 2018 games he has played, Coutinho has scored twice and claimed as many MOTM honors.
Next up: Brazil will play Serbia at 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday while Costa Rica will play Switzerland at the same time in their final Group E games.
Thumbnail photo via Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports Images