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Rio Ferdinand reports ‘Mugging’ of Aleksandar Mitrovic

9 months ago
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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.”

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