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It was the 89th minute in Da Luz when the final thrust came. Portugal faced Serbia to try to seal their ticket to the World Cup. The red team managed to open the scoring in minute 2, but it was giving ground and ball until this fateful moment. Dusan Tadic, who had already scored the equalizer (one that still classified Portugal) put a cross with a changed leg from the right corner of the area. Inside the rectangle, up to seven outfield players defended Rui Patricio’s goal. Visibly badly placed, the center of the Ajax player surpassed their heads and traveled directly to Mitrovic’s, alone, and that he still had another companion just as unmarked to his left. The Fulham player ‘hammered’ his teammate’s service at will to silence Da Luz. Almost. To all but a good handful of Serbian fans who went crazy in the visiting area who he did not hesitate to see again after the game to celebrate the victory with them while chanting his name. At home, Portugal took out the least desired ticket, that of the repechage.

The team coached by Fernando Santos met their destiny to the qualifying phase in a dramatic way and after a match for which the coach came to blame himself, anticipating himself as the center of criticism and avoiding his players. “LPlayers know that we always play to win, thinking about the offensive moment, but it doesn’t always turn out the way we want. But the responsibility is mine, “he said in RTP, adding that he believes his team played with” suspicion “and” anxiety. “

Anxiety that dominated Cristiano Ronaldo just at the end of the game. Santos, who was crossing the Da Luz lawn with a whistle and cloth in the stands, went to look for his star. The latter, as he saw him, expressed his disagreement with some situation. After a brief exchange of words, Santos made his way to the locker room. Later, he explained the reason for the anger. “Cristiano said that in Serbia he had scored a goal in the last minute that had been badly disallowed. It’s normal, he was frustrated,” he said.

That ‘no goal’ was remembered by Cristiano and many more Portuguese since last night. On March 27, Portugal traveled to Serbia and again had a difficult night. Diogo Jota opened the scoring with a double shortly after the first half hour, but Mitrovic and Kostic made it 2-2 that would end up being definitive. For Portugal, the match had to end 2-3. In the final moments, a rained ball reaches Dmitrovic’s area. The goal, Pavlovic and Cristiano entered the dispute. There, the one from Madeira was the smartest, placing his foot to send the ball towards the goal. Without being a hard shot, Stefan Mitrovic ran to clear on the line. For the referee, it was, but Cristiano missed the whistle that announced the goal and exploded receiving yellow and even throwing the brazalate to the green before going to the locker room. Last night, that same ‘no goal’ was again the cause of anger and the one that deprived them, in part, of not going to the World Cup.

These coincidences and criticism for bad play are not the only problem for Fernando Santos. The change of Bernardo Silva this Sunday cost him new complaints. The one from City, he explained, did not come out on his own whim. “I’m not stupid. Bernardo was the player who wanted the ball. He was not going to be the one substituted, but he made a signal to the bench that he couldn’t take it anymore,” he justified himself vehemently.

A ‘black’ week that cost him to saints see a multitude of white scarves after an unexpected 0-0 draw in Ireland and this home loss to Serbia. Portugal stands up with headlines that speak of ‘misery’ and ‘disappointment’. The atmosphere is complicated for a play-off that will be an ‘Ors Categorie’ port for which Portugal has plenty of talent (Cristiano, Bruno Fernandes, Jõao Félix, Bernardo Silva, Renato Sanches, Cancelo, etc.) to overcome, but who does not seem able to squeeze. A winning generation is on the cutting edge.

John does not impose himself

The Jõao Félix case is another point of analysis for this selection. His most promising young man has not found his place in the team for a long time and Santos seems to show less confidence in him as the commitments progress.

This continues to enter the lists continuously, but its participation varies according to the meetings. Throughout the European Championship (groups plus eighths), Atlético only played 34 minutes against Belgium and, after his injury has deprived him of entering previous breaks, this time Santos preferred to put others ahead. In the 4-3-3, the coach alternates Cristiano between the forward and the striker and trusts the rojiblanco as a catalyst and as a starter to play as a winger. In three key games, he was not against Luxembourg, he played just 15 minutes against Ireland and seven against Serbia.

A ‘golden’ background

A few of the players that still make up Portugal’s roster know what it means to qualify for the World Cup by repechage. The neighboring team arrived in Brazil for the playoffs and did so with a memorable performance by Cristiano Ronaldo crowned with a subsequent Ballon d’Or.

When the award was presented in collaboration with FIFA, it decided to extend the voting period from November 15 to 29 after Portugal played their play-offs with Sweden. As they later affirmed, the extension did not change the vote, but Cristiano once again ‘won’ the trust of his voters.

After winning by the minimum at home (1-0), Friends Arena experienced a duel at the top between Ibrahimovic and Cristiano. Both exchanged goals, but the Madeira team won the match with a hat-trick that earned them their World Cup qualification. A repechage of gold memories. Portugal will wait for the best Cristiano again so that he reaches his fifth World Cup.