March 28, 2018 / 5:12 PM / 25 days ago

Serbia silence critics with Nigeria win, says coach

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbia’s 2-0 win over Nigeria in a World Cup warm-up on Tuesday has proved critics wrong for writing off the team’s prospects in the tournament in Russia, coach Mladen Krstajic said.

Soccer Football - International Friendly - Nigeria vs Serbia - The Hive Stadium, London, Britain - March 27, 2018 Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra

Krstajic and his players came under fire after a tepid 2-1 defeat by Morocco on Friday and they responded with a solid performance against the Nigerians in a match played at Barnet’s stadium in north London.

“The lads showed plenty of character against Nigeria and the display made it clear the critics were hasty in their remarks after the Morocco defeat,” Krstajic told reporters after an Aleksandar Mitrovic double gave his team the win.

“We could have won by a bigger margin but the most important thing is that we looked like a team with plenty of commitment.”

Nigerian keeper Francis Uzoho made several fine saves and Mitrovic should have had another goal as television replays showed his 13th-minute header had crossed the line.

A revamped 4-2-3-1 formation, with Mitrovic the lone striker, dominated as the lively attacking midfield trio of Dusan Tadic, Adem Ljajic and Filip Kostic caused all sorts of problems for the Nigerian defence.

Mitrovic, who has rediscovered his scoring touch for club and country after joining English Championship (second division) promotion-chasing side Fulham from Newcastle United in January, was delighted with the outcome.

“I scored twice and should have had another but the team is all that matters,” he said.

“We really wanted a result here and having won, we can’t wait to gather again because we know how big a challenge doing well in Russia will be.

Serbia are in the 32-nation tournament’s Group E alongside Brazil, Costa Rica and Switzerland.

Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Keith Weir

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