By 90Min
June 23, 2018

Switzerland defender Stephan Lichsteiner has defended his teammates after their controversial goal celebrations during their recent World Cup win against Serbia.

The second half goals of Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri overturned an early opener from Aleksandar Mitrovic to secure three points for Switzerland. Victory lifted Switzerland up to second in Group E and they now look set to qualify behind group leaders Brazil.

However, both Switzerland goals were celebrated controversially, with both Xhaka and Shaqiri using their hands to make a double-headed eagle - a national symbol of Albania. However, Lichtsteiner defended his international teammates in a recent interview with Goal.

Xhaka was born to Kosovan-Albanian parents, with his father having spent time in prison for demonstrating against the Communist Yugoslavia rule in Kosovo.

Meanwhile, Shaqiri was born in Kosovo and sported the country's flag on the back of his right boot during the match against Serbia. Despite Kosovo declaring their independence from Serbia back in 2008, tensions still run high between the two countries.

The Swiss goalscoring duo could face punishment from FIFA, with rules stating that players are not allowed to celebrate in a manner that is motivated by politics.

However, new Arsenal defender Lichtsteiner has jumped to the aid of his fellow countrymen, telling Goal: "It was good. Why not? This is the history for them.

"The war between them was so difficult. I spoke to the father of one of our players who is Albanian, and he told me about this history. This is more than football. This is more than football because they have this period, this war that gave them both big problems.

"I understand them. I think it’s normal, it’s part of their life. There was also big provocation ahead of the game from them [Serbia], so I think it’s normal.

MB Media/GettyImages

"We had a lot of pressure, it was not an easy game for us. We have a lot of Albanians, so there is a lot of history between Serbia and Albania. It was a very tough game for them mentally."

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)