Serbia striker Aleksandar Mitrović scored a last gasp header as Portugal falter and drop to the play-offs ahead of World Cup 2022 qualification.
Portugal Falter as Fulham Star Heads Home Late On
Sanches Strikes First as Serbs Protest
Portugal have taken a knock in their World Cup qualification hopes with a loss to Serbia. A cross from Dušan Tadić was nodded home by Fulham forward Mitrović to consign Fernando Santos’ side to the play-offs.
An early dither from Serbia’s Nemanja Gudelj saw Portugal midfielder Renato Sanches fire home in the first minutes. The goal drew complaints from Serbia’s head coach, Dragan Stojković, with suggestions Bernardo Silva pushed Gudelj. Nevertheless, the goal stood.
Serbia’s star striker, Dušan Vlahović of Fiorentina, hit the woodwork and fired over the rebound ten minutes later.
Serbian Resurgence Begins in Lisbon
However, Dušan Tadić’s strike was fumbled over the line by Rui Patrício just after the half-hour mark to make it square.
Lille’s Renato Sanches came close to doubling his tally in the second half and Aleksandar Mitrović headed wide at the other end.
However, it was Mitrović’s whose next attempt at a header came good. Tadić crossed and connected with the towering striker, sending Serbian’s travelling fans into raptures. Mitrović ripped off his shirt as coaches and substitutes ran onto the field to celebrate.
Portugal only needed to draw to qualify automatically. However, Serbia finish top of their group. Santos’ men rely on play-off rounds in March to qualify for Qatar late next year.
Serbia dominated the match when it came to stats. According to BBC Sport, they maintained 57% possession and had more shots than Portugal. Both sides managed three on target.
Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo had a quiet game. His closest effort on goal was a free-kick, blazed over the bar and of far from his usual quality.
Quoted on The Guardian, winning goalscorer Mitrović said; ‘We are reaping the rewards of hard work and the belief that we would be able to defy the odds and beat Portugal. We are overjoyed, for our country and the people.’
In qualifying, Serbia joined Croatia and Spain who topped their groups on the same night. France and Belgium also confirmed World Cup football on November 13th.
Main Title Credit Embed from Getty Images