Portugal 1-2 Serbia

It had been coming. After Renato Sanches’ opener following a silly error by the Serbian backline, the visitors took control and left a sold out crowd at the Estádio da Luz in shock as Alexander Mitrovic’s late header dumped Portugal into the nightmare of World Cup qualification playoffs yet again.

Once again, Portugal were second best throughout the match and relied on infrequent counterattacks which never yielded the goal they needed to help achieve the objective of qualification. 

While criticism raged over the performance against Ireland, it was true the squad was imbalanced by several changes in order to protect those at risk of yellow card suspension. Tonight, the squad was thus reinvigorated by the additions of Renato Sanches, João Cancelo, and Nuno Mendes while Bernardo Silva had recovered from injury. Pepe’s red card suspension allowed veteran José Fonte back into the side next to Rúben Dias at the heart of defence. Moutinho was surprisingly favored over Bruno Fernandes and Danilo displaced João Pahlinha in defensive midfield. 

Dream start

Whatever feeling before the match that something had to give was justified within two minutes when Bernardo Silva dispossessed Veljkovic allowing Renato Sanches to steal in and score the opening goal with a belting finish. The inevitable VAR check revealed no foul in the build-up.

Cancelo gave away a free kick minutes later and the ensuing delivery was eventually turned into the back of the net, but the referee sighted a clear foul beforehand. But Serbia were growing into the match already, and Milinkovic-Savic headed over after a decent cross from the left. Vlahovic then struck the upright in the 12th minute with the rebound blazed over as the early fireworks continued. 

Milenkovic then was forced to bring down Diogo Jota 25 yards from goal after a Portugal counterattack. Ronaldo’s effort was just over the bar. Serbia went straight back into possession and began to find space down the right wing behind Nuno Mendes winning several corners. Portugal dealt with these and other crosses from wide areas.


Match reaction: “Awful, inadmissible, I can’t explain it” - Bernardo Silva


But the pressure was too great and Patrício, on his 100th cap for Portugal, made a critical error when he spilled a routine shot from Dusan Tadic over the line for the equalizer in the 33rd minute. Replays showed Portugal’s veteran keeper was wrong-footed by a deflection off Danilo and was forced to correct mid-flight causing him to mishandle the shot.

The hosts were rattled and Serbia maintained control going on a marauding attack which culminated with a shot into the side netting from Kostic. Then Portugal came back again and João Moutinho’s shot was blocked after a great tandem run by first Renato then João Cancelo. Danilo rose highest to meet the ensuing corner but it was well over the bar. 

Serbia had the ball in the net again through Vlahovic but the goal was immediately ruled out for offside. Then Renato Sanches’ cross nearly found its way through to Diogo Jota as the match went end-to-end with the half coming to a close.

Sanches goes close 

Serbia’s top scorer, Alexander Mitrovic, was subbed in to start the second half. Serbia resumed control but it was Portugal with the first clear chance of the half as Renato Sanches burst free on the counter, but rather than have a shot or pass he attempted to improve his angle allowing the defence to catch up and clear the ball which still nearly ended up in the net after a bad deflection. 

But Portugal could not maintain possession and Kostic’s cross was inches away from finding Vlahovic in the 59th minute. Renato Sanches was again involved minutes later when he robbed Serbia of possession then raced forward onto Bernardo’s pass to fire a shot straight at Rajkovic. 

Bernardo, Portugal’s best player in the first half, was removed for Bruno Fernandes while Pahlinha also joined the fray. Nuno Mendes broke up a certain goalscoring chance in the 73rd minute as Serbia began to make changes and lose some control over midfield. But still Serbia looked dangerous though their forays became more infrequent.

Mitrovic glanced a header wide after a cross from the left wing, but slowly the chances dried up and Portugal inched toward the prize of World Cup qualification.

But Alexander Mitrovic, just when it seemed Serbia were finished, scored from a free header at the back post from Tadic’s cross in the 91st minute. Portugal were left with four minutes of stoppage time to level the score. And it was not to be.

Deserved win for Serbia

With the result, Portugal, poor throughout much of qualification, were left to negotiate their ninth playoffs for a major tournament. Surprising though the outcome was, the visitors were good value for their victory. Serbia dominated possession, won 10 corners, outshot the hosts and never allowed Portugal to sustain their own attacking rhythm. Were it not for the calamitous opener, Serbia would have looked relatively comfortable. Their midfield, especially Tadic, was absolutely sensational - providing the energy and strength to support Vlahovic and later Mitrovic, but also the skill and vision to deny passing lanes and recover loose balls.

Diogo Jota was again poor and João Cancelo, in mesmeric form with City, was pinned back for much of the game. Nuno Mendes was similarly overrun especially against Serbia’s five-man midfield in the first half. Portugal’s counterattacks came too rarely and Serbia completely shut off supply to Ronaldo, allowing others such as Jota and Bernardo more room, a risk that paid off handsomely.

Portugal will now enter the semifinals of Path A for qualification to the World Cup in March 2022. 

by Nathan Motz

 

Portugal XI: Rui Patrício - João Cancelo, Rúben Dias, José Fonte, Nuno Mendes - Renato Sanches (Ruben Neves, 84’), Danilo, João Moutinho (João Pahlinha, 64’) - Bernardo Silva (Bruno Fernandes, 64’), Diogo Jota (João Félix, 84’), Cristiano Ronaldo

Serbia XI: Predrag Rajkovic - Filip Kostic, Strahinja Pavlovic, Milos Veljkovic, Nikola Milenkovic, Andrija Zivkovic - Nemanja Gudelj, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Sasa Lukic - Dusan Tadic, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Dusan Vlahovic

 

Goals:

[1-0] - Renato Sanches, 2’

[1-1] - Dusan Tadic, 33’ 

[1-2] - Alexander Mitrovic, 90 +1’

 

Comments (90)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I can't believe what I just watched. Even as a Santos critic, I'm surprised with how cowardly we approached the match after Renato opened the scoring in the second minute. Instead of pressing high and putting serbia to the sword, we sat back and...

I can't believe what I just watched. Even as a Santos critic, I'm surprised with how cowardly we approached the match after Renato opened the scoring in the second minute. Instead of pressing high and putting serbia to the sword, we sat back and parked the bus. Even after they equalized, Santos only had one thing on his mind. He wanted to tie this game. He wants to tie every game.

We are at home. We are Portugal. Yet we play like minnows. What a disgrace. What an amazing embarrassment. Santos should have been fired years ago.

Even if we qualify via the playoffs he should be let go. Disgusting.

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Out of Honor, Santos should resign. Our of respect to the legacy of the NT and the Fans, the FPF should fire Santos if he doesn't resign.

These results are no longer acceptable for a team that has, "TRUE" ambitious to win the World Cup.

If he...

Out of Honor, Santos should resign. Our of respect to the legacy of the NT and the Fans, the FPF should fire Santos if he doesn't resign.

These results are no longer acceptable for a team that has, "TRUE" ambitious to win the World Cup.

If he stays, it will prove we are only pretenders and will never be true candidates.

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Correcting your title for you:

'Portugal denied by pre-historic useless manager who lost the plot long ago'

I am sooooo looking forward to 'Breakinf Down the Bandwagon Part 2', where Santos ingeniously sets us up for winning World Cup 2240, by...

Correcting your title for you:

'Portugal denied by pre-historic useless manager who lost the plot long ago'

I am sooooo looking forward to 'Breakinf Down the Bandwagon Part 2', where Santos ingeniously sets us up for winning World Cup 2240, by getting us to miss WC 2022 entirely!!!

Genius!! How did I fail to see this????

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Chris,

I appreciate your humor. Considering the current state of the team( or no team actually, just a bunch of individuals), humor is the only acceptable thinking, given this madness.

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Thanks for the kind words Paulo, but the truth is my humour is a thin veil for my rage.

I'm really pissed off right now with the FPF and also with fans who have failed to see this was the direction we have been going in for several years now.

...

Thanks for the kind words Paulo, but the truth is my humour is a thin veil for my rage.

I'm really pissed off right now with the FPF and also with fans who have failed to see this was the direction we have been going in for several years now.

Watching one of our early qualification games against Azerbaijan, when we were so garbage that we only managed to win by an Azeri own goal, it was clear to see this manager has nothing to offer anymore.

The fact that he's still dumb enough now to say 'my team will be in Qatar', shows the pathetic character he has. If it were me, I would be embarrassed and do the honourable thing and step down.

We most likely will not be in Qatar' if this clown remains in charge.

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Fernando Santos needs to be sacked before we miss out on the world cup ffs

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This is a blessing in disguise.

The long awaited shift.

Santos out, Nuno in.

The quality is still intact.

The perfect coach is free.

Portugal will rise and shine.


Let the others consider the team underdogs again.


Portugal will prove...

This is a blessing in disguise.

The long awaited shift.

Santos out, Nuno in.

The quality is still intact.

The perfect coach is free.

Portugal will rise and shine.


Let the others consider the team underdogs again.


Portugal will prove them wrong. Time and again.

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nuno maybe yep...

also sergio or ruben or leonardo or even jesus would be good bet...

so long as its never ever jose il b happy...

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Nuno, please no. That is Santos 2.0.

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As a Porto fan, Nuno is not the answer. He is nothing but an overhyped manager propped up by Jorge Mendes. In fact, he is Mendes' first client and the reason Mendes is where he is now.

Nuno does not have the winning mentality or even tactical...

As a Porto fan, Nuno is not the answer. He is nothing but an overhyped manager propped up by Jorge Mendes. In fact, he is Mendes' first client and the reason Mendes is where he is now.

Nuno does not have the winning mentality or even tactical ability to manage a team like Tottenham let alone Portugal. Please look elsewhere.

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Truly a disgrace...and how Santos keeps his job after all of this is mind boggling

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Well done. Serbia was just the better team. Santos‘ face during the game - sorry… How could any team in the world play convinced of their own strength with such a fearful nervous wreck at the sideline? Once more, Renato was the best player for...

Well done. Serbia was just the better team. Santos‘ face during the game - sorry… How could any team in the world play convinced of their own strength with such a fearful nervous wreck at the sideline? Once more, Renato was the best player for PT. Ronaldo and Bernardo were also good. Jota was crap, so were many others. Worrying how shaky Rui Patricio has become. He is back to his baddest days. He needs a rest, Diogo Costa is the much better keeper nowadays. No big team fears Portugal and they all know why. The subs were crap too. All in all a well deserved result. Now even FPF will see that they should have replaced FS long time ago. Now it‘s too late. You don‘t have a solution at hand. As said: eliminated in the playoffs and reboot. That would be healthy.

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Rui is a huge liablitliy in the current game of the high press. In all these years, he still has two left feet and no ball control.

We need a goalkeeper who is confident with ball at his feet. When we get pressed it goes back to Rui and he just...

Rui is a huge liablitliy in the current game of the high press. In all these years, he still has two left feet and no ball control.

We need a goalkeeper who is confident with ball at his feet. When we get pressed it goes back to Rui and he just heaves it forward and hopes we get it back.

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B Silva, R Sanches, J Cancelo, and J Palhinha (as a Substitute) much love. Love those guys. Played their hearts out. They're the heartbeat of this team: tough, resilient, and hardworking. They embody what it means to be Portuguese.

Unfortunately...

B Silva, R Sanches, J Cancelo, and J Palhinha (as a Substitute) much love. Love those guys. Played their hearts out. They're the heartbeat of this team: tough, resilient, and hardworking. They embody what it means to be Portuguese.

Unfortunately B Silva and R Sanches were substituted out for B Fernandes and R Neves. Apart from the latter two being obvious downgrades, neither played with heart.

I've seen B Fernandes play many times for Sporting and Manchester United. His performance tonight was so bad that he really should never show his face again. The worst part was that he played scared. He is not a leader.

The rest of the squad were underwhelming. I really don't blame guys like J Fonte, R Patricio, and J Moutinho either. These three did what they could at their age. They're playing on the back nine of their careers. F Santos called them up. What were they supposed to do? Say, no. I mean J Moutinho gave it everything he got. It's just he doesn't have much left.

Danilo probably shouldn't have been out there. J Palhinha should've have come in for him.

N Mendes had a decent game. He's not to blame either.

Ronaldo. I rather just not go there right now.

D Jota was pretty awful. He's liability.

J Felix doesn't have the physical attributes.

I don't know what people see in R Dias. I never rated him that high. He's certainly not better than a forty-year-old Pepe.

The blame goes to you know who. I say this for he refuses to adapt to the game. This goes for any profession. If you're still plying the same methods from twenty years ago, than you're twenty years behind. Sorry, but it's true. We would be much better playing with a back three. The majority of our starters know this system.

This really sucks.

The problem now is that we're probably going to face competition better than either the Irish or Serbs. Another problem is that we'll be facing them without R Sanches and I think someone else. That my friends is not good at all.

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No Renato or Cancelo! The cherry on top isn't it?

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Actually, I am a big fan of Cancelo and is playing like the best fullback(wingback) in the world right now.

But his early yellow card made him to tentative and had to constantly get help from Bernardo and others. Bernardo got tired out too...

Actually, I am a big fan of Cancelo and is playing like the best fullback(wingback) in the world right now.

But his early yellow card made him to tentative and had to constantly get help from Bernardo and others. Bernardo got tired out too quickly because of that.

Semedo should have been subbed in, and I don't rate Semedo highly, but Cancelo couldn't play defense.

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DID YOU WATCH THE MATCH

N Mendes was terrible, all attacks came through him, he lost the ball on numerous occasion and was terrible of passing the ball he should never paly in Selecao till he has the experience.

We need Rafael Geurieiro,...

DID YOU WATCH THE MATCH

N Mendes was terrible, all attacks came through him, he lost the ball on numerous occasion and was terrible of passing the ball he should never paly in Selecao till he has the experience.

We need Rafael Geurieiro, Ricardo Pereira.

D Jota was BAD, falling down without a challenge. Guedes should have been sin starting eleven

J Felix was good he was the best holding the ball and taking it alone unlike others.

R Dias played a decent game.

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Short and to the point.

- Pathetic performance and comprehensive implosion by on overrated generation of players.
- Exposed on the left side again with relentless pressure and a unmarked finished we've seen this countless
- Bad mix of players,...

Short and to the point.

- Pathetic performance and comprehensive implosion by on overrated generation of players.
- Exposed on the left side again with relentless pressure and a unmarked finished we've seen this countless
- Bad mix of players, don't care if they are called an great attacking side full of talent. Where???? Bruno F was wasteful, I've relentless called out Jota as average -- need more evidence, Felix is useless.
- I know people who blame the tactics but please make a world class pass, show some quality, where is it?
- I've supported Santos, he should be fired immediately, see if a new coach can make a difference. I don't think the coach will matter look at parts.

The good news is we can still qualify.

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Club football is different than international football. These players are only together for a short period of time. How can they get any chemistry? It’s like they themselves are playing blind

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I understand your point but other national quality sides don't seem to have these problems, look at Serbia how they dominated us.

I believe this generation of players fit well with club teams but their attributes are duplicated at the national...

I understand your point but other national quality sides don't seem to have these problems, look at Serbia how they dominated us.

I believe this generation of players fit well with club teams but their attributes are duplicated at the national level, we lack explosive attackers who can put pressure on the defense. Bruno F is overrated even at the club level, Felix is a bust always with a victim attitude physically over matched, Jota is technically weak, and lacks composure. I can go on, name a player who is really dynamic and game changer? Maybe Sanches but our lack of speed and physically shows against this teams. Where is the playmaker and quality? I don't see it.

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Jota form has dipped for sure, way to comfortable at Liverpool. He is used to get fouls called his way at the club level, but today he was a prima donna, which is weird, he used to be one of the guys who battled hard.

But remember, he did get...

Jota form has dipped for sure, way to comfortable at Liverpool. He is used to get fouls called his way at the club level, but today he was a prima donna, which is weird, he used to be one of the guys who battled hard.

But remember, he did get both goals against them so I can't bag on him totally, but was crap today.

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Jota had two easy headers against Serbia, overall he offers very little no technical skills and composure. Going back to Wolves has has never impressed me, he is not a playmaker he depends on others to feed him the ball. We need skilled and...

Jota had two easy headers against Serbia, overall he offers very little no technical skills and composure. Going back to Wolves has has never impressed me, he is not a playmaker he depends on others to feed him the ball. We need skilled and explosive playmakers, Jota comes up short I don't see any long term growth. He is who he is, a squad player who is a nice back up.

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I would have taken an easy header today, would have gotten us through. In this team, we can't diminish goal scorers in competitive games, the are hard to come by. The Point is he scored twice in open play created by a pass. Today, our defense led...

I would have taken an easy header today, would have gotten us through. In this team, we can't diminish goal scorers in competitive games, the are hard to come by. The Point is he scored twice in open play created by a pass. Today, our defense led to offense, we have nothing in open play or even set pieces.

As I mentioned in another post, his form has dropped off. It seems once our players make it to these super teams, they chill and rely on the overall quality to get them by.

When he was at Wolves he fearlessly attacked, shot with both feet and was direct. Haven't seen that in a while from him.

Is he the second coming of Ronaldo? Of course not, but he is good enough to start next to Mane and Salah.

But I can't defend his performance today, looked like a crybaby and as another poster mentioned, he should have adapted to the refs calling of the game. He is more than capable of being physical.

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Please bring in NES or have Mourinho resign at Roma , if so then this loss could be a blessing in disguise. I would even take Sa pinto at this point. The FPF is a total joke if they don't make a move here.

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Ronaldo and Pepe hate Jose M.

Sa Pinto, never!!!

He made Braga look horrible. The good news we got to see an actual good coach in Amorim take over Braga and look how well they did with him. Also, got canned for Vasco da Gama quickly in Brazil.
...

Ronaldo and Pepe hate Jose M.

Sa Pinto, never!!!

He made Braga look horrible. The good news we got to see an actual good coach in Amorim take over Braga and look how well they did with him. Also, got canned for Vasco da Gama quickly in Brazil.

Now Abel Ferreira, did well at Braga and doing well in Brazil. Has a chance to win back to back Copa Liberatores, might be a better name.

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Mourinho or Sa Pinto? Why stop there? I mean at that point, why not appoint a scarecrow sitting on a barstool with a pipe in his mouth?

Seriously... Sa Pinto? Mourinho isn't what he used to be. He is a shell of his former self, like that one...

Mourinho or Sa Pinto? Why stop there? I mean at that point, why not appoint a scarecrow sitting on a barstool with a pipe in his mouth?

Seriously... Sa Pinto? Mourinho isn't what he used to be. He is a shell of his former self, like that one tired gigolo who used to star in Magic Mike but now just bursts drunkenly on stage girating to the sound of the best even though the music has stopped.

As a Portista I can also tell you Nuno ES is not the answer. He does not play proactive football. The reality is the FPF will stick with Santos. Part of me hopes we don't even make qualification because we are so shyte right now, I don't want to see us embarassed on the world stage.

Pathetic.

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“These players continue to surprise me every day.”

Rúben Amorim
(Sporting coach after 3-1 Lisbon derby victory against Benfica at the Estádio da Luz) 

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