But the best of the drama was saved until the 90th minute, when Serbian defender Dusko Tosic made a massive error - stepping up in his own half to leave Xherdan Shaqiri through on goal, the Stoke man racing through on goal and finishing calmly to give his side the victor to an epic encounter. - Switzerland has lost just one of its last 23 matches (W16 D6), a 2-0 defeat to Portugal in a World Cup qualifier in October 2017.
His experience on Tyneside has so far been extremely underwhelming, such was the promise that surrounded the Serb upon his arrival in Newcastle, but that potential has not been realised during his three-year association with the club, and he has so far failed to light up St James' Park. It will be their 8th World Cup appearance, while Switzerland's 11th appearance.
Former coach Slavoljub Muslin, who led the team to qualification for Russian Federation, reportedly paid with his job for failing to select Milinkovic-Savic.
Shaqiri had been booed relentlessly by Serbia fans throughout a high-quality match, but the Stoke City forward had the last laugh with his last ditch victor. There was, nevertheless, plenty for Serbia to be pleased about, with Mitrovic particularly impressive in the air. A draw will only be enough for Mladen Krstajic's side if Switzerland lose vs. Costa Rica by two goals. The Swiss exploited their lack of pace to perfection, not least the darting Shaqiri.
The familiar faces of Branislav Ivanovic and Aleksandar Kolarov are still going strong, with the latter playing a key role in a well-oiled Eusebio Di Francesco defence for Roma, as his exploits helped the Giallorossi to a Champions League semi-final last season.
Shaqiri, Xhaka and Belrami trace their roots to Kosovo, a former province of Serbia, a fact which had stoked tensions before the match. "They have qualities throughout the squad, excellent individuals".
The Swiss went for a fresh pair of legs at half time as forward Haris Seferovic was hauled off after being fairly anonymous throughout the first period, Dinamo Zagreb striker Mario Gavranovic coming on.
Right, handbrake turn away from pseudery, and back to the match.
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 area.
Petkovic brought on attackers Breel Embolo and Mario Gavranovic in search of a victor, and Gavranovic forced a smart save from Stojkovic from a close range effort with 10 minutes remaining.
He has the flags of Switzerland and Kosovo tattooed on his left arm. "Also as a player, I like him a lot", Lichtsteiner told Goal.
The Swiss looked in danger of being over-run when Serbia went ahead with an Aleksandar Mitrovic header after five minutes to the delight of their fervent supporters at the Kaliningrad stadium.
A 1-0 win over Costa Rica and Brazil's surprise 1-1 draw with Switzerland has left Serbia on the cusp of advancing from Group E in Russian Federation.