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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 October 2018

Xherdan Shaqiri insists Switzerland World Cup goal celebration was 'just emotion'

Stoke City winger and Arsenal midfielder Xhaka scored the goals in the 2-1 win over Serbia

Xherdan Shaqiri celebrates after scoring Switzerland's late winner against Serbia. He plays with the Kosovo flag on his right boot. Martin Diviseck / EPA
Xherdan Shaqiri celebrates after scoring Switzerland's late winner against Serbia. He plays with the Kosovo flag on his right boot. Martin Diviseck / EPA

Xherdan Shaqiri responded by saying "it's just emotion" when he was questioned about the way he celebrated his late winner in Switzerland's 2-1 victory over Serbia.

Stoke City winger Shaqiri and Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka, who netted Switzerland's equaliser in the World Cup Group E contest in Kaliningrad, each celebrated their goals by making a gesture with their hands that was an apparent nod to the Albanian flag.

Both are among the players in the Switzerland team who have links to Kosovo - Shaqiri wears boots with the Kosovo flag displayed on one heel and the Swiss one on the other.

When asked about the way he had celebrated, Shaqiri said: "I think in football you have always emotions.

"You can see what I did and I think it's just emotion. I'm very happy to score this goal. It's not more. I think we don't have to speak about this now."

Xherdan Shaqiri's boots display the Kosovo flag on the right and the Switzerland flag on the left. Matthias Hangst / Getty Images
Xherdan Shaqiri's boots display the Kosovo flag on the right and the Switzerland flag on the left. Matthias Hangst / Getty Images

When Switzerland manager Vladimir Petkovic was questioned about the gestures, he said: "I can only repeat what I already said yesterday - you should never mix politics and football.

"It's clear that emotions show up and that's how things happen. I think we all together need to steer away from politics in football and we should focus on this sport as a beautiful game and something that brings people together.

"I think we should not talk that much about politics but show our mettle on the pitch."

Serbia boss Mladen Krstajic said when asked if he had any comment to make about the celebrations: "I don't have any comment. I don't deal with these things. I am a man of sports and this is what I am going to stay. I have no comment."

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More from 2018 World Cup:

Day 10 preview: Germany 'ready to fight for their lives' against Sweden

Day 10 updates: Belgium, Mexico and Germany in action

Day 9 as it happened: Delight for Switzerland as Brazil and Nigeria win

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Having fallen behind in the fifth minute via Aleksandar Mitrovic's header, Petkovic's men drew level in the 52nd minute when Shaqiri's shot was blocked and Xhaka blasted the loose ball into the net.

Shaqiri, who sent a fine effort against the post shortly after the equaliser, then completed the turnaround in the 90th minute as a Swiss counter-attack saw him receive the ball from substitute Mario Gavranovic, burst forward and slot coolly past Vladimir Stojkovic.

The final round of fixtures sees Serbia play Brazil and Switzerland face Costa Rica.