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Soccer: Xhaka and Shaqiri score for Swiss, make Albanian symbol

Switzerland's Granit Xhaka celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the group E match between Switzerland and Serbia at the 2018 soccer World Cup at Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad, Russia, on June 22, 2018. (Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)

KALININGRAD, Russia (AP) -- Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri scored in Switzerland's 2-1 victory over Serbia on Friday at the World Cup, and both celebrated by making a nationalist symbol to their ethnic Albanian heritage.

    Both players put their open hands together with their thumbs locked and fingers outstretched to make what looks like the double-headed eagle displayed on Albania's national flag. The thumbs represent the heads of the two eagles, while the fingers look like the feathers.

    "I think about this, I don't want to speak," said Shaqiri, who also took off his shirt after scoring. "In football, you have always emotions. You can see what I did, and it's just emotion, and I'm just happy to have scored the goal. I did it, and we don't have to speak about this."

    The gesture is likely to inflame tensions among Serb nationalists and ethnic Albanians.

    Shaqiri was born in Kosovo, the former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008. Serbia doesn't recognize Kosovo's independence and relations between the two countries remain tense. Xhaka's parents are originally from Kosovo and they are of Albanian heritage. His brother plays for Albania's national team.

    Serbia's players did not react to the eagle gestures.

    "You should never mix politics and football. You should always show respect," Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic said. "It's a wonderful atmosphere and a positive experience and that's what football should be about."

    In the tournament's first come-from-behind victory, Xhaka made it 1-1 in the 52nd minute with a powerful shot through a crowded penalty. Shaqiri added the other in injury time after running past the Serbian defense.

    Aleksandar Mitrovic scored for Serbia with a header in the fifth minute.

    The win puts Switzerland into second place in Group E with four points, the same as Brazil. The Swiss will advance to the round of 16 if they beat Costa Rica on Wednesday in Nizhny Novgorod. Serbia will face Brazil in Moscow at the same time.

    Serbia had chances to score more before halftime at Kaliningrad Stadium. Mitrovic came close in the 19th minute when he controlled a cross from Branislav Ivanovic on his chest and sent a bicycle kick over the bar.

    GROUP DYNAMICS

    Brazil, Switzerland and Serbia can all still claim first place in the group with a win on Wednesday. Costa Rica has been eliminated.

    KEY TO SUCCESS

    Shaqiri's runs down the wings were a constant threat to Serbia's defense, while the Swiss midfield recovered after a shaky start to dominate in the same way it did against Brazil in their first match.

    Mitrovic was a handful for Switzerland with his strong physical presence close to the goal. The Swiss decision to put two defenders on him paid off in the second half, though Serbia had a strong appeal for a penalty when two defenders appeared to wrestle Mitrovic to the ground as he tried to head a cross.

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