Group E opened up on Sunday with a thrilling match in Samara, where Serbia topped Costa Rica, 1-0.
It looked as if Keylor Navas wouldn’t be beat on the day, however, Aleksandar Kolarov had other ideas with his sublime free kick 11 minutes into the second half.
[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]
It took the Serbia goal to really spark life out of the Costa Rica attack, however, the Europeans held strong and remained compact defensively to keep the Ticos off the scoreboard.
Aleksandar Mitrovic nearly gave Serbia a second finish in the final moments of the match, after Sergej Malinkovic-Savic picked out an ideal through ball to his teammate, who couldn’t find a shot on target.
Both sides struggled to find a rhythm in the opening half, despite Serbia’s dictation of pace with their strong midfield.
Mitrovic boasted the lone shot on target for the European nation, when he tested Keylor Navas in the 13th minute, while Los Ticos had a quality chance of their own a minute prior through a Giancarlo Gonzalez header from close range.
Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.
Mitrovic was stopped again by Navas in the 50th minute after the Fulham striker found himself one-on-one with the Real Madrid keeper.
The Ticos will return to group action on June 22 against favorites Brazil, while Serbia will meet fellow European side Switzerland the same day.
Serbia had managed to control the match for much of the opening hour of play, but didn’t have a goal to show for it.
That was, at least, until Aleksandar Kolarov had his say in the matter.
The AS Roma man gave Serbia a 1-0 lead in the 57th minute after a stunning free kick that gave Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas no chance as he sprawled to his left.
This is awful news.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will miss the rest of the season for Liverpool and England after damaging ligaments in his right knee.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, 24, injured his knee in a tackle with Aleksandar Kolarov early in Liverpool’s 5-2 win against AS Roma in their UEFA Champions League second leg on Tuesday.
In a statement released on Liverpool’s website on Wednesday they revealed the extent of the Ox’s injury.
”Liverpool FC can confirm Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s 2017-18 season is over for both club and country due to a knee ligament injury sustained against AS Roma on Tuesday evening. The extent of the injury means Oxlade-Chamberlain is set to miss the remainder of the campaign for Liverpool, as well as the World Cup finals in Russia with England.
“The 24-year-old was assessed by the club’s medical team at Melwood on Wednesday morning and no specific timescale is being placed upon his return to action at this stage. However, Oxlade-Chamberlain will now begin a rehabilitation programme to enable him to reach full fitness again as soon as possible, returning to action next season.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain has reinvented himself this season in a central midfield role following his move from Arsenal in the summer of 2017.
His driving runs from midfield have caused so many problems and he was in the best form of his career over he past few months.
After struggling for so long with injures, the Ox finally had a run of six months or so without an injury and he was fulfilling his potential with big goals and performances against Manchester City in Liverpool’s wins against them in the PL an UEFA Champions League.
The fact that Oxlade-Chamberlain will have to watch on if Liverpool reach the UCL final and then again for the World Cup with England is a cruel blow.
Jurgen Klopp does not seem confident that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will play again this season.
The Liverpool and England midfielder suffered an injury to his right knee early on in Liverpool’s 5-2 win over Roma in their UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg, as he appeared to extend his right knee under his body when making a challenge on Aleksandar Kolarov.
Speaking to the media following Liverpool’s dramatic win, Klopp was downbeat about Oxlade-Chamberlain’s chances of playing again this season.
“We don’t know exactly but if the medical department are quite concerned without a scan, you can imagine it’s difficult. The season is not that long anymore. It doesn’t look good,” Klopp said. “I’m a very positive person and still hope it only feels bad, but is not that bad. We’ll see. We lost a fantastic player tonight. It’s not good news.”
This injury has come at such a bad time for The Ox.
He has been flourishing with Liverpool in a central midfield role and has delivered key goals and assists in big wins since arriving from Arsenal last summer. Most notably the Ox’s driving midfield runs have caused Manchester City all kinds of problems and he scored two screamers against them in wins at Anfield in the Premier League and UCL.
Georginio Wijnaldum stepped in admirably for Oxlade-Chamberlain against Roma and the Dutch midfielder will be used alongside James Milner and Jordan Henderson from here on out by Klopp, especially with Emre Can battling a back injury.
As for Oxlade-Chamberlain, he will now be focused on trying to be fit for the UCL final on May 26 (if Liverpool get there) and on making England’s 2018 World Cup squad. That seems like a big ask given Klopp’s gloomy assessment.
Facundo Ferreyra and Fred scored second half goals to lead Shakhtar Donetsk past AS Roma 2-1 at the Donbass Arena in Wednesday’s first leg of the clubs’ UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.
Cendig Under scored his fifth goal in four matches as AS Roma did manage an away goal before the March 13 second leg in Rome.
Fred has been linked with a summer move to Man City, and the banger of a free kick showed part of the reason the Brazilian is in demand.
[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]
Roma is bidding to make its first UEFA Champions League quarterfinal since 2007-08 when they went out at the hands of Manchester United, while Shakhtar last made the quarters only to be dismissed by Barcelona in 2010-11.
Ukrainian backstop Andriy Pyatov had an early save on Edin Dzeko off a cross from Aleksandar Kolarov, two minutes after Kolarov mailed a free kick over the bar.
Kolarov and Dzeko remained big parts of the story line, though Pyatov and the Shakhtar defense stood tall.
Dzeko would wind up assisting the opener, and it was the in form Under who’d bury his chance.
Not soon after the break, though, Yaroslav Rakitskiy cued up Ferreyra for the equalizer.
And Fred but the hosts ahead with this outstanding free kick, what they’d call a “bar down bingo” in hockey.