Aleksandar Mitrovic went through the full range of emotions on Friday night.

A dominant first half performance by Serbia, with the Newcastle striker at the forefront of it, saw them take the lead.

A superb fifth minute header by Aleksandar Mitrovic saw him become only the seventh Newcastle player to score at a World Cup finals.

It could have been even better for both Mitro and his side, as he came close on a couple of more occasions to adding a second goal, whilst other teammates also threatened to stretch the lead.

The second-half saw a different Switzerland emerge, defeat would mean almost certain elimination and they have previously proved tough opponents in tournament after tournament.

Only seven minutes after the break and Arsenal’s Xhaka had them level with a stunning left footed long distance strike.

Unlike pretty much every other second group game this was proving a cracking game, though with now Switzerland on top.

Despite that, Serbia still had their moments, with Aleksandar Mitrovic having a great game, obviously the goal doing him the world of good. It was a match that could go either way.

With Serbia pressing for the winner that would have assured their place in the knockout stages, they were caught out.

An attack broke down and when the ball was cleared to the halfway line the Serbian defender made a terrible error, trying to play offside he allowed Shaqiri a free run and he coolly finished for a 2-1 win.

From ecstasy to agony for Mitro over the course of 90 minutes.

If Switzerland get a point or better against Costa Rica, then Serbia have to beat Brazil – both games kick-off at 7pm on Wednesday night.

After the match, there was a lot of sympathy for Serbia. Whilst Switzerland were better in the second-half, no way did the opposition deserve to lose.

Most of the focus was on a second-half incident at a set-piece, the ball delivered into the box and Aleksandar Mitrovic clearly dragged to the ground by two defenders.

All of the BBC Sport panel were in disbelief that no penalty had been given, Rio Ferdinand describing it as a ‘mugging’ for Mitro and Serbia.

It seems unbelievable that with VAR being used, that this wasn’t seen as a clear and obvious incident that had been missed by the referee.

Very much like Harry Kane against Tunisia, an incident so similar with the England striker dragged down in the box.

The only explanation surely, because so many penalties have being given thanks to VAR so far, is that the manhandling of opposition players in the box on set-pieces has been excluded as something the officials watching on TV can intervene on. Possibly due to pretty much every corner/free-kick seeing at least some pushing/holding.

However, when things are as clear and obvious as those involving Mitrovic and Kane, it makes the whole thing a joke when no action is taken.

Rio Ferdinand speaking on the BBC:

“That’s a mugging on the streets.

“It’s unbelievable.

“One of the defenders doesn’t even look at the ball, he (Aleksandar Mitrovic) is there in amongst two players (who drag him down).

“How can he be the person called up for a foul there?”

Pablo Zabaleta was also on the BBC panel and he said:

“I can’t believe it wasn’t given…it was a foul.

“It is a clear view for the referee and the centre-back isn’t even looking at the ball, he is just holding Mitrovic.”



  • Paul Patterson

    Bear hugged by two players and a foul given the other way.

  • Wor Lass

    If VAR aren`t looking at incidents in the penalty area then what`s the point? A few penalties rightly awarded would have defenders rethinking their actions at corners and free kicks – and about time. These antics are a blight on the game.

    • Kneebotherm8

      It’s VARR………Video Assistant Rugby Referee………that explains it……

      • Leicester Mag

        I was wondering if our scouts had a summer job

        • Kneebotherm8

          Our scouts are on holiday in the summer………….in fact our scouts are on holiday most of the year..

          • robbersdog

            We have scouts?

          • Kneebotherm8

            I was being kind…

          • panther

            does Ashley know?

        • Rich Lawson

          No,they go camping in the hills with the rest of the pack.We’d be better of letting the brownies pick new targets ?

      • Wor Lass

        Rugby has it sorted, though. Noone gets away with anything and the crowd know exactly what`s being checked and can hear everything that`s said. Why do they have to be so secretive in football? There have been some good decisions made with VAR but they`ve missed a lot and noone`s quite sure what`s going on. I reckon it`s about ppower and control.

        • Kneebotherm8

          ‘Twas a joke mate………rugby ref on the VAR panel allows rugby tackles on a soccer pitch……………

          • Wor Lass

            Yeah – I knew you were joking but I was just having a rant. Let`s hope we`re not banging on about it after tomorrow`s game!

  • Leicester Mag

    Can’t help but feel when it comes to Mitro we are mugging ourselves.

    • Leazes.

      Let’s hope for something better.

      • Leicester Mag

        Do you see that happening? I dont

      • thewildchimp

        To hope for something that won’t happen is foolishness. We might get similar quality, at best.

  • robbersdog

    That ref should be removed from the World Cup.

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      German ref for a Swiss v Serbia match, should never happen

      • molend

        Absolutely. Caesar’s wife syndrome. Not that it was really Switzerland anyway. Apsrt from the Albanians, five of the squad were born in Africa- three in Cameroon! And isn’t it a bit distasteful when players who score while playing for country A celebrate by demonstrating their loyalty to another country altogether?

        • MichaelMaximusMoose

          FIFA will most likely look into that

          • thewildchimp

            No, they won’t: remember the drone incident in the EURO 2016 qualifiers? They insulted their hosts and got a freebie which enabled them to qualify for the main event.

        • thewildchimp

          If I was the manager, I’d come down on them harshly. It just goes to show that they are a bunch of mercenaries.

      • Danimal

        By the way, surely there should be a ref from each country represented. I can’t believe this shower are superior to anything we’ve got in our league.

        • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

          The FA only presented one team of officials, no back up team. One of the presented team pulled out so we had no offials to represent us.

          Every other FA presented a back up team of officials, this is why we don’t have an English ref at this WC.

          • Danimal

            I see, sounds about right.

  • ghostrider

    This VAR is deliberately being messed about with to muddy the waters with the use of it so they can banish it and put to bed people’s arguments in favour of it.

    They simply don’t want it because it shows too much of a fair game, but is deliberately manipulated in favour of bias towards whatever teams at whatever times.

    Basically speaking it makes no difference to the bias of ref’s, because ultimately ref’s still get to decide whether to use it and that’s wrong.

    Any potential game changing occurence should be flagged up by the watching experts and the ref should be made to watch it and then make a decision, because only then will anyone know whether the ref is playing a fair game.

    They make out that VAR has technical issues but that’s complete and utter drivel.
    Look how quick TV has been able to immediately show replays of incidents. It takes seconds…and this was the case decades ago, never mind advancement to date.

    Nobody can tell me that fans would be up in arms about staying in a stadium for 10 more minutes due to ensuring a fair game with this stuff.

    It’s deliberately been turned into some kind of fiasco.

    • Danimal

      It ruins the flow of the game and it is totally dependent on individuals’ interpretation of incidents. Just like the current system but takes much longer. When was the last time all the pundits, ex-players and ex-refs in the studio unanimously agreed on a decision? You can’t have error-free football, either by players or refs. It is futile chasing that dream. Also, as with the Kane incident, how far back do you rewind? Stones clearly fouled the defender before the ball came towards Kane. Perhaps if we rewind it far enough we can disallow Maradona’s hand of god goal. As for stopping a game when there is an attack happening, that is ridiculous. All the momentum is lost when it is restarted with a dead ball. Good news for fans of this abomination – it will definitely be rolled out regardless. Fifa etc can’t resist using new toys and it gives the media something else to talk about. I can see myself walking away from football when this happens. Or at least going to non-league to enjoy something a bit more soulful.

      • Philippines

        An injury ‘ruins’ the flow of the game. Let’s ban injuries. I love VAR. Its a total disgrace when all the work and effort, heart and soul, is trashed by something like the ‘hand of god’ goal.

        • Danimal

          Opinions, like I said. It’s not for me but it’s coming anyway, just like allowing keepers to waste time taking goal kicks on the wrong side and this ludicrous backwards kick off thing. I admit the back pass thing has been good and the shaving foam at free kicks is ok, just to give some credit! Just before this Belgium Tunisia match, they showed five of them sitting staring at tv screens, “led by an American” FFS. It just seems a costly overreaction to one of the world’s less serious problems. Based on what we’ve seen so far, I’ve also got little faith that they’d even notice the hand of god incident or if they did spot it, think there was anything wrong with it. Refs differ in their interpretation of the laws, whether on the pitch or in an armchair. I must say I wonder if refs had been a bit more diligent over the years in punishing the shirt-pulling and shoving at corners etc, maybe there wouldn’t be the need for extra refs to oversee them.

      • Mike Adam

        Not when the right call is made instead of the wrong one.

      • ghostrider

        And that’s exactly what they want you to act like.
        Clever isn’t it?
        It’s called muddying the waters of a legitimate system by coaxing people like yourself into seeing it as a pointless waste or a match hold up when you know fine well it’s genuine purpose would almost….I say “almost” all cheating, whether player or referee.

        The mere fact that it’s deliberately (in my opinion) being made to look cumbersome is because of what it can take away from football, not for what it can give in terms of fairness.
        What can it take away?
        Money from the fat cats, that’s what.

        • Danimal

          Thank you wise one. There was me thinking I was capable of forming my own opinions.

          • Martin Rooney

            He should have wrote, that your opinion is stupid.

          • Danimal

            Cheers.

          • Martin Rooney

            Grammar correction

          • Martin Rooney

            Here’s the benefit of VAR.
            1st game 04/05 August 2004
            M’boro away jimmy Floyd punches the ball into the back of the net in the 92 min to equalise. Goal stood draw 1pt.
            2nd game Norwich shearer crosses to bellemy who whacks it in the net for a winner linesman chalks it off saying ball was out TV replays show it barely touched the line. Draw 2pts.
            3rd game spurs roundly beaten 2pts
            4th game Aston villa away bellemy puts the ball past Sorenson toward goal and goes to his side to get past him no defender in sight Sorenson clatters him horrendously its a straight red easy not given no goal to nufc lose our best player from the match and lose 4-3. 2pts
            Just 2pts from four games ROBSON SACKED

          • Danimal

            I remember and yes it does feel like we get more than our share of awful decisions non-decisions against us, although supporters of other clubs apparently feel exactly the same. Apart from my general old fashioned dislike of tampering with the game, I think there will still be debate and dissatisfaction over decisions, as refs all seem to have different interpretations, even when they have seen the incidents. A bit off the wall, here’s one from a match I was at a few years ago, also at Villa Park. Babayaro is chasing a Villa attacker but struggling as another Villa player has got hold of his (Babayaro’s) shirt and is pulling him back. Babayaro eventually clips the guy he’s been trying to catch. Penalty and red card given. This was appealed and a panel of refs actually upheld the decision, despite the obvious foul on Babayaro. Fortunately we won 2-1. Everton away, Graveson chops our player in half just outside the Everton box, the ref pretends not to see it, they break to the other end while we are a man down and win a penalty. Which incident would VAR concentrate on? There are often (usually) lots of incidents in a game that lead up to the headline-grabbing “VAR moment”.

          • Martin Rooney

            For me every decision, the current way of officiating is the same as 1850 when players smoked and drank before games. With players ability to run at 24mph and fire 70 yard passes at 80mph it is an impossible job. Take last season delli Alli’s slap on lascelles, Kane’s lunge at lejuene. His failures affected our season badly. It’s impossible for a referee to get everything right I believe he has every intention to do so, so we should give him every bit of help. 2015/16 was the worst ever for game changing decisions for nufc with 14 serious F ups in 10 games and only one in favour.
            Southampton home pen denied and SFC player not sent off.
            Ivanovic boots a standing 6ft 3 mitro in the head yellow not red ffs then plays ball up for their equaliser. Man city away mitro goal chalked off 5 yards on side.
            Colo pen and off at sunlun
            Leicester home first goal off side
            West brom away mitro goal chalked off mitro not given cast iron pen
            Man u home Rooney should have been off man u given a never penalty nufc denied two cast iron pens
            Stoke away denied a penalty
            Leicester away goal setup by an off side vardy nufc denied a pen
            Norwich hand ball to control the ball for winner denied another pen
            Man city home aquerro off side by a efffffffing mile
            Toon go down mcCrapn was sacked though
            I dont care if I’m there three hours

          • ghostrider

            It just goes to show you that forming your own opinion is not without the aid of being mind manipulated…and no, it’s not just you…it’s all of us.

      • Peter C

        Professional “Top Class Football”, lost it’s SOUL 20 years ago, when Rupert Murdoch got involved.

      • Martin Rooney

        Time wasting slows the game down. Poor officiating flows the game down it took me one millisecond to see Mitro getting fouled during play if the ref missed it, then those watching like me shouldn’t have and directed the ref accordingly so its not the system just the people using it.

    • thewildchimp

      Had the same thoughts after several key “misses”. But that one with Mitro is too blatant to be the simple case of trying to remove VAR from the picture. It’s FIFA giving props to their favs and the bookies.

  • Andynufc

    Mitro couldn’t have done any more to persuade Rafa that he deserves another chance. Nufc are only mugging themselves if they sell Mitro for a poxy 20mil.

  • Leazes.

    Do you think that he’s finally come good?

    I don’t, I think there are bits of his overall game missing that you need to have at the highest level if you want United to progress, such as pace, spacial awareness, tactical acumen, team player, ability to beat top defenders that you will be playing against every other week….. give me a footballer with a brain everytime….. a Klinsmann, a Lineker, or a forward with some skills which don’t just comprise of raw aggression….. take away the aggression and Mitro is on an off day….and off day and you lose. He’s obviously been doing the weights to give himself the physique of a wrestler but that’s what Shearer and Shola did to prolong their careers not to make up a deficit in their game of a young player!

    I’ve called him a third rate striker, and I’d be very surprised if any of the top clubs came in for him or even clubs on the fringes of competing for anything!

    What do I know, others have seen commitment, fight, and badge kissing and a player giving everything and that’s what counts right?…. the workman ethic.

    2 years left on his contract and he’s still only 23…. It doesn’t matter what we think United under Ashley will cash in on a saleable asset at the drop of a hat.

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      He`s better than the Hoss & can you really believe Fatso will invest his fee in a £20m plus player, because i don`t

      • Leazes.

        I’m better than the Hoss.

        • MichaelMaximusMoose

          That i can well believe

          • Leazes.

            Not really…. but the problem is the operation at United working under strict guidelines…. he has to break the clubs transfer record now to get a player as Good (sic) as Mitro….. now that’s the problem!

          • MichaelMaximusMoose

            Can`t see that happening

          • Leazes.

            Something has to give…. It’ll most likely be the transfer record which has stood for 14 years…. and on a second rate strike….not a Ba or a Reme!

      • Peter C

        You are right on both counts!

      • HarryHype59

        Fatso will most likely accept staggered payments for him just like he did for Sissoko. Rafa will be lucky to get £4m of his fee this window. He also won’t be allowed to buy players using staggered payment but will have to spend what the club generates.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    Here`s a quote from a Brian Clough book. never buy a player on his form in the World Cup

    • Leazes.

      Shhhh… don’t tell anyone….. thats a trade secret… Kenny Dalglish didn’t read it….Stephane Guivarc’h!

      • Danimal

        Philippe Albert.

        • Peter C

          Was a joy and privilege, to have watched him in the heart of our defence.

          Has any centre back ever scored a better goal, than the chip over Schmeichel.

          • Danimal

            The only time in my life I’ve been excited about going to a match because a centre half was coming back from injury. He was a bit more than a defender.

          • Peter C

            Yes I totally agree, Have supported and watched Newcastle for over 50 years, how time has flown.

            I can truly say, he would be in my all star team of players, a genuine class act, with a wand and rocket of a left foot, At his peak, he didn’t seem to run, but glide about the pitch.

            Just wish we had signed him a few years earlier.

      • david mills

        have you actually got a life? Dont think so. Sad sack

  • Peter C

    The challenge on Mitrovic wouldn’t have been out of place, on an American Football field, but on a “proper Football pitch” it was downright GBH.

  • Ba ba.

    Bring him home

  • Александар Сајков

    Although Serbia, by trying to protect the lead, played cowardly after scoring the first goal, it was obvious that the Swiss were favoured by the referee.Therefore, we got a great takeaway from this: if we had kept pressing on and attempting to score more goals, we would’ve been making our own luck, rather than having to rely on dubious decision.

    • Mike Adam

      Yeah you would have thought Rafa was managing Serbia

  • Mike

    Cashing more cash for Mitro!!!