Aleksandar Mitrovic's late header was enough to stun Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal as they lost the game 2-1 against Serbia in Lisbon, which implied an automatic qualifying spot at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar next year. Although Portugal can still make it to the marquee event next year, they now have a sterner road ahead of them in the Playoffs to be played in March next year.
Interestingly, all the sides which managed to seal a World Cup place for themselves in Europe on Sunday managed to do the same with the help of late goals. While Spain needed a draw against Sweden to assure themselves of a place in the World Cup, they won the match 1-0 which meant Sweden star Zlatan Ibrahimovic's hopes of another World Cup appearance will now depend upon the team's performance in the Playoffs.
In a separate fixture, Croatia also broke the deadlock against Russia only in the 81st minute that too with the help of an own goal from a Russian defender. This means that the Russian team will also have to go through to the Playoffs to have a chance at reaching the Playoffs.
However, Portugal's defeat was particularly heartbreaking as they had gotten off to a good start and only needed a draw. Renato Sanches scored the opening goal after just two minutes against Serbia which was cancelled by Dusan Tadic's 33rd-minute strike. But as soon as Mitrovic netted the header before the final whistle, it was a stunning moment and shocked everyone including the star player Ronaldo who sat at the ground visibly upset after the final score. Following the match, there have been all sorts of reactions pouring in with some demanding the sacking of Fernando Santos, the coach of the Portugal side.
Check out some of the Twitter reactions here:
The win is a remarkable turnaround for Serbia who defeated Portugal for the first time and sealed a World Cup qualification after failing to feature in the European Championship 2020. Notably, Portugal have been part of every single world cup since 2002 and it will be a huge blow if they fail to make it to the quadrennial event next year.