Serbia has clinched an all-important victory against Portugal by 2-1 away from home and secured a place in the World Cup 2022.
The hosts went ahead early into the game when Renato Sanches gave the lead for Fernando Santos’ side. But, the Serbian’s got back to the game brilliantly and dominated the game since. Dusan Tadic equalized the game with the help of a deflection but Portuguese keeper Rui Patricio shouldn’t have conceded the goal.
In the dying moments of the game, the visitors found the all-important goal courtesy of second-half substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic. Due to this result, Serbia finished the group on top with 20 points in eight games. On the other hand, Portugal slipped down to the second with 17 points in as many games.
Portugal 1-2 Serbia:
Coming into this game, Portugal needed to avoid defeat at home and Serbia had to earn all three points to qualify as a group leader and they did exactly that. The visitors showed more intent and pressed the opposition higher up the field.
Fernando Santos’ side looked tentative and tried to be defensive to draw the game and they faced the consequences of that by conceding a late goal.
After the game, Portugal boss Santos took responsibility for this defeat and said that he believes in his team and his team will go to Qatar next year. Fernando Santos said on the official Website:
“We didn’t do a better performance than on Thursday [in the goalless draw in the Republic of Ireland]. We started very well, pressed and scored. Then, we started to lower the lines a lot, always with great difficulty in reaching the opponent, who had four units in midfield, in a kind of square. We hardly ever got the markings right.
“This team has the morale to win [the play-offs]. We will be in Qatar. We feel what is happening there in the cabin. We know we didn’t do what we should have done. We tried and we couldn’t, but we’ll be in Qatar.”
The upcoming fixtures for both teams:
Portugal will now have to go down through the playoffs route to book a ticket for Qatar next season. Fernando Santos’ side will have to play a one-legged semi-final and final to secure a place in the World Cup. This could be a daunting task as Italy failed to qualify last time around through this playoff route.
Meanwhile, Serbia has now become the seventh team from Europe to qualify for the World Cup next year. The first leg’s disallowed goal of Cristiano Ronaldo against the Serbian has helped Dragan Stojkovic’s side to secure a place in the World Cup finals.