But he was powerless when in the 56th minute, the chic Kolarov free-kick sent the ball into the top corner of gate of the rival - 0:1. But a lack of star players in attack might hurt their chances of qualifying to the top 16 spot.
It was somewhat of a surprise.
The 23-year-old Lazio midfielder did not play during Serbia's successful qualification campaign, with his exclusion cited as one of the main reasons Slavo Muslin was sacked as coach in October last year.
We have been treated quite well in the early stages of this World Cup.
Costa Rica defender Ronald Matarrita was ruled out of the World Cup earlier this week because of a right hamstring injury.
Southampton's Dusan Tadic will likely support his Premier League counterpart alongside Adem Ljajic and Filip Kostic in Serbia's 4-2-3-1, the forward having helped his club side stave off relegation with six goals and three assists in 2017/18. Costa Rica will play Brazil on June 22 at 6 am Costa Rica time.More news: Hector Cuper rues Mohamed Salah injury after Egypt loss
Bookmakers unanimously considered the favorite in this match, the Serbian team.
"It's especially important that we have three points in the bag", Kolarov said. "We know everything about Switzerland". Serbia have an excellent squad but the fact that they have missed out on major tournaments in 2014 and 2016 may work against them this year.
"I love the pressure, it makes me better", Milinkovic-Savic said before the tournament. Of course we want to win.
For Serbia, it is Switzerland next before their final group game against World Cup favourites Brazil. Serbia will lock horns with Costa Rica in the opening encounter of Group B today at Samara Arena.
On the field after the match, the tattooed Kolarov doffed his jersey before offering Navas a conciliatory embrace.
Lada was called Zhiguli in the Soviet era and is still produced in the Samara region by the VAZ factory.
Campbell was proving a nuisance, and only a last-ditch challenge from Nikola Milenkovic prevented Costa Rica's substitute from getting in on goal.