1 min Off we go!
1 min Ivanovic clips a lovely pass over the top into Mitrovic inside the Cost Rican box, but his first touch is loose. Still, Serbiamanufacture a corner, clipped in well by Ljajic, and Mitrovic gets a head to it but Gonzales scrambles clear.
2 min Lovely pass from Ruiz, slid into space behind Kolarov and while he turns, Urena makes himself a brew then saunters overt to the ball. He’s got an angle to shoot, but it’s a little tight, so Stokovic parries behind.
3 min This is a great start! The corner is improperly cleared and Venegas crosses again from the left … and Gozalez is free! But he can only head straight at the keeper – into what I’m pretty sure Iain Dowie just described as Stojkovic’s “midrift”.
5 min “Interesting point re anthems,” tweets Alan Phoenix-Bates. “I’d have liked that implemented at the 1966 World Cup. The thought of England intoning God Save The Queen to a bunch of backward tape loops assembled at Abbey Road by George Martin and Paul McCartney is intriguing to say the least.”
If you play it backwards, it says “Swinging London, what a load of nonsense”.
7 min Serbia moves the ball through Sergej to Kolarov who, from 25 yards, cuts across a low, diagonal shot that he can’t quite draw enough and it scooshes past the far corner.
8 min “Check out the best version of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ ever, by Marvin Gaye,” tweets misterarthur.
10 min Serbia are moving the ball nicely so far, but Costa Rica are pushing on more than (I) expected. Their five at the back is more of three, and the wide players are high up the pitch most of the time
11 min And there’s one of them, Venegas down the left, driving a cross into Ivanovic’s shins to win a throw. By the look of things, Oscar Ramirez fancies him to have a go at Ivanovic.
12 min Ye’vegottaescore! Costa Rica win a corner down the left, go short, and then Urena guides a lovely gentle cross to the back post, which no one Serbia deems a nifty place to hang out. Again, Gonzalez is there unmarked, but he gets his header all wrong, caught under the ball and bumping it high. Naughty.
13 min Serbia burrow forward and get the ball to Mitrovic, but his shot is blocked by Duarte, his deflection making it leap up kindly for Navas.
15 min “On an uncommonly nice summer day in Helsinki I’m choosing to plant myself on a barstool and watch Costa Rica play Serbia,” emails Kari Tulinius. “The patio is full and no one’s inside but me and two middle-aged gentlemen speaking Spanish, who I’m guessing are Costa Rican. I feel like I should feel sad about this, but truth be told next summer I’ll miss afternoons like this.”
Can I suggest a chair with a back?
16 min There’s a lovely tempo to this so far, and Ivanovic bulls down the right, cuts inside thus sending Gamboa for a bag of borsht, and crosses low. But he can’t quite pick out Mitrovic, and as such Costs Rica charge forward once more.
20 min Serbia are finding a lot of joy down their right, but are yet to find a decent final ball. Tadic performs some trickery and footwork, before getting nowhere with it; Costa Rica clear and Serbia start again.
21 min “It doesn’t bode well for the quality of an expended World Cup that there’s a left back at this World Cup who just got done for pace and skill on the wing by Ivanovic,” snarks David Flynn.
Branno to you.
22 min Tadic flicks the ball away ahead of Calvo, who scythes through him with gusto and is booked.
23 min A little lull, as Serbia nudge the ball across their back four. Costa Rica are sitting a little deeper now, but Tadic still finds a terrific pass, bent from the right touchline with the outside of left foot. On the by-line, Ljajic catches up with it, but gets way too much on his cross.
25 min Lovely touch from Mitrovic in the box to kills Tadic’s cross, but he can’t quite get body around it to get the shot away.
27 min Lovely pass over the top from Kolarov and Sergej is in! His first touch is serviceable, putting the ball into his stride but a little under his feet, and he can’t impart any power to his shot, so Navas saves. Turns out he was offside anyway.
28 min Serbia are monopolising the ball now, but could do with shoving more men into the box when they go wide. Tadic just does really well to work space to cross, but Mitrovic was the only man looking to get on the end of it.
30 min “Re 20th minute,” begins Matt Howell. “‘Tadić performs some trickery and footwork, before getting nowhere with it’ – this is a very concise yet alarmingly accurate description of Tadić’s performances for Southampton over the last couple of seasons.”
There are loads of players who are capable of great stuff – way more than there’s ever been, I’d say – but there are still only a few who can deliver regularly.
32 min “La Marseillaise is great in any version*,” emails Kari Tulinius, “but I have a special fondness for Serge Gainsbourg’s reggae version. And for sheer emotional force, you probably can’t beat it when Gainsbourg sang it a cappella in front of far right demonstrators who had shut down his concert because they objected to said reggae version of the national anthem.”
*if we focus solely on its musical elements
33 min Venegas appears to have picked up a knock, but he’s pushing through for the now.
35 min After a promising start, this game has regressed to the mean.
35 min Sergeg catches the ball in his arm but escapes and then, out on the right, Tadic is needlessly fouled by Venegas. But when the free-kick arrives at the front post with some pace, Navas flies out to punch clear.
36 min Tosic gets up early and hard to beat Acosta in the air, ploughing through him in the aftermath. Both go down and look hurt, though should be fine.
39 min Serbia have created nothing so far. The two best chances, by far, were Gonzalez’s headers. And have a look! Tosic slips in the act of clearing, Calvo picks up the ball, evades a tackle, and leathers a shot over the bar.
41 min “Up at 6am to watch this in Costa Rica,” says CD on Twitter. “Girlfriend asked on walk to bar if anyone will actually be watching. Packed, beers flowing, I love the World Cup.”
Be sure to miss all those beaches and all that wildlife for extra points.
42 min Calvo out to Vanegas on the touchline, who slides a return infield. Calvo gathers, composes, and slides a low drive just past the near post.
43 min A backheel from Matic sets a Serbia attack going and eventually, Milivojevic crosses into the middle, where Sergej connects well with an overhead kick, but picks out Navas. The flag goes up, though had he scored, VAR would surely have intervened for he was onside.
44 min Is it just me, or is the grass on this – and other pitches – too long. It’s not entirely easy to tell through the telly, but it looked a particular problem in the France-Australia game yesterday.
45 min ‘Out here in Korea the commentators have mentioned Ivanovic’s arse twice,” tweets Micky Lim, “it having been given an encouraging pat by the coach and just blocked a cross. I’m excited to see what it does in the 2nd half.”
He’s done really well to develop it in the autumn of his career.
45 min There’ll be two added minutes.
Half-time: Costa Rica 0-0 Serbia
Costa Rica have got the balance nicely settled between attack and defence, while Serbia are struggling to find their rhythm. They’ve played ok, but do not look like scoring.
46 min Right, let’s try again. Come on, lads. Please.
47 min On the plus side, Catchphrase is on next.
48 min Sergej catches Guzman on the achilles, and he goes down in discomfort. That’s about it.
49 min Something I’ve noticed in this World Cup so far: teams that have played miserably in the first half have pretty much done likewise in the second. The travel hairdryers do not appear to be working properly.
50 min A chance! Mitrovic takes the ball on his chest very nicely and finds Sergej, who caresses a lovely return pass back into his stride. But, with Gonzales on his heels, he leans left and slides right, far too close to Navas, who blocks before Duarte humps behind. That finish was very poor.
52 min Serbia are passing and moving a bit more aggressively now. I still wonder if they need two sitting midfielders.
54 min Kolarov forces himself a yard and curls a decent cross towards the back post. Sergej isn’t getting it, but Calvo can’t be sure and heads behind … the corner is decent, and Duarte grabs Mitrovic who, as a consequence, gets very little on his header and the ball flies wide,
56 min Mitrovic focres himself away from Calvo, who tries all manner of foul before earning himself a yellow card. Free-kick Serbia, just outside the box, right of centre … also known at, er, “Kolarov territory”.
WHAT A GOAL! Costa Rica 0-1 Kolarov (56 min)
AND THERE IT IS! Kolarov curls an absolute jazzer over the wall an just inside the near post! The power he get with the side of his foot there!
58 min That was what we needed. Costa Rica can’t just sit there now, because if they do they’ll lose and Serbia have also looked like scoring while they were at it. Ljajic bursts through the middle and Sergej nearly finds him – hopefully Serbia won’t sit on their lead.
59 min Ivanovic slides in on Venegas, sort of with with two feet but sort of winning the ball in the process, and he’s booked.
60 min Bolanos replaces Venegas and with his first touch, curls in a dangerous free-kick. Tosic heads it away, but Serbia dropped very deep there.
62 min “Weird stuff at football,” emails James Crane. “A few years ago I took my seat at Hampden for the Celtic/Aberdeen cup semi to find my neighbour shelling and then eating a bag of half a dozen boiled eggs. Not the *very* worst, admittedly, but still odd (also it absolutely stank the place out). And, as any fan will testify, to be the primary bad smell at such an occasion is quite the achievement.”
That is odd. Maybe he likes Cool Hand Luke.
63 min Bolanos has been lively since coming on, looking to put the ball into the box quickly. He’ll need his mates to get in there too, though, if that’s to work.
65 min We shouldn’t forget that Paulo Wanchope was manager of Costa Rica … until this happened.
67 min Second change for Costa Rica: off goes Urena, on comes Arsene Wenger’s Joel Campbell.
68 min Costa Rica are driving the game now. I don’t see that this is Serbia’s likeliest route to a result, though it should still work.
70 min Things have quietened again. Costa Rica are passing sideways slowly, looking for an opening; Serbia are letting them.
71 min Milinkovic fouls Campbel and is booked; free-kick Costa Rica, 30 yards out, in line with the left edge of the box.
73 min Milenkovic tires to get in front of Campbell and finds himself coming from behind the ball is deflected into the space he vacated. But he does really well to come back at him and concede a corner. Before it’s taken, Guzman is replaced by Colindres, and Serbia then clear.
75 min “Watching the game in Heraklion yesterday,” tweets Jeff Buck. “Three Americans at the next table. One asks ‘Does Russia have the Euro’; “Not since the Brexit,” says another’ the others nod sagely.
My favourite word in this anecdote is “the”.
76 min Good couple of minutes from Serbia, Sergej lumping over the top before Mitrovic finds Tadic, whose low cross is poked against Kostic by Navas’ fingertip. Excellent keeping.
78 min Serbia are really quite good when they get it together – as they should be, with the players they have. But they just lack that bit of drive and intensity.
79 min Colindres goes down the line and spanks over a cross that’s got far too much on it. But then Sergej gets his team into trouble with a flick close to the edge of his own box, and Milenkovic has to block Borges’ shot.
80 min Sergej, then. He’s really, really good in possession, but could do with finding a way to make that happen more often.
81 min Sergej picks up a loose ball and lifts a ball over the top for Mitrovic, but Duarte is over quickly to intercede. Good defending.
82 min Second change for Serbia: off goes Tadic and on comes Rukavina or, put another way, it’s a defender for an attacker.
84 min Costa Rica are struggling to create anything, but given Serbiaaren’t really trying to score, you’d expect them to have a few more goes at sticking the ball into the box.
87 min Mitrovic is having one here.He makes a mess of his control after a decent pass from Sergej, then when Sergej plays him in beautifully, his first touch isn’t good enough, he hesitates, and then can’t get the ball out if his feet before Gonzales slides in.
89 min Prijovic rescues Mitrovic, who ought to have finished this one.
90 min Sergej has been excellent these last ten minutes, and he barges through midfield and finds Kostic, who larrups over the bar.
90 min There’ll be five added minutes and Costa Rica start them with a free-kick. Bolanos curls a dangerous looking ball into the box, Milenkovic heads away well, and Gamboa drives a low shit that Stojkovic fields comfortably enough.