Aleksandar Kolarov struck a superb free-kick as Serbia opened their World Cup campaign with a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica in Samara.
The former Manchester City defender fired home in trademark fashion as Serbia were rewarded for their dominance of the Group E fixture 11 minutes into the second half.
Costa Rica, who reached the quarter-finals in Brazil four years ago, paid the price for failing to make the most of some good chances in the first half.
Their frustrations spilled over in injury time as some members of their coaching staff became involved in heated exchanges with Serbia’s Nemanja Matic over a throw-in on the touchline.
Costa Rica’s best opening came after 12 minutes when Giancarlo Gonzalez was picked out unmarked at the far post by David Guzman following a short corner routine but he headed well over.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic underlined his ability when he connected with an overhead kick just before the break for Serbia but it proved a comfortable save for Costa Rica keeper Keylor Navas. The flag was also raised for offside but replays indicated there may have been a case for VAR to overrule had the effort found the net.
Serbia took confidence from that and threatened much more after the interval.
Newcastle’s Aleksandar Mitrovic should have opened the scoring soon after the restart when he was played in by Milinkovic-Savic but he shot too close to Navas. Mitrovic had another opportunity moments later but failed to make clean contact with a header and the ball flew wide.
The opener came in the 56th minute after Mitrovic was fouled by Guzman around 30 yards from goal. Kolarov, pictured, stepped up and curled a powerful effort over the wall and inside Navas’ left-hand post.
Mitrovic spurned another gilt-edged opportunity in the latter stages after being played in by Milinkovic-Savic, losing his footing as he was challenged by Gonzalez. Appeals for a penalty were waved away. Substitute Filip Kostic also blasted over late on.