Aleksandar Mitrovic, Serbia sink Portugal, seal World Cup 2022 berth
- Serbia sealed a 2-1 victory over Portugal on Sunday
- Serbia have booked their berth in the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar
- Portugal will now compete in the UEFA Nations League playoffs
A late header from Aleksandar Mitrovic sealed a 2-1 victory for Serbia over Portugal on Sunday and more importantly booked their berth in the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar. As the Fulham striker came off the bench and thumped home the 90th winner, the Portuguese hearts sank in Lisbon as their team will now have to face the playoffs.
The situation currently leaves Cristiano Ronaldo in danger of missing out on the tournament after four straight appearances. The 36-year-old complained with his teammates and, after the final whistle, looked desolate as he sat on the field while teammates and opposing players came to console him. Ronaldo is the men’s all-time record-scorer in international soccer with 115 goals.
Just a draw would have been enough for the hosts, with Portugal trying to qualify for the World Cup for the sixth straight time.
Portugal will now compete in the UEFA Nations League playoffs, which will feature the other nine group runners-up and two group winners. The 12 nations will compete in three four-team brackets next March, with the seeded teams receiving a home game in the bracket semifinals.
Serbia won Group A with 20 points, three more than second-placed Portugal. Serbia had never beaten Portugal before.
After Bernardo Silva grabbed possession from a defender outside the box, Renato Sanches put Portugal ahead with a right-footed strike from close range barely two minutes into the contest at the Stadium of Light. Despite Serbia's claims of a Silva foul, video review validated the goal.
Dusan Vlahovic struck the post with a shot 10 minutes later, and Dusan Tadic didn't miss in the 33rd minute with a strike from beyond the area that took a deflection off a defender and tricked goalkeeper Rui Patricio.
Mitrovic scored the game-winning goal with a header that rebounded off the ground and went in past Patricio at the near post, thanks to a well-placed cross by Tadic from the right side.
With inputs from the Associated Press