Bernardo Silva has apologized to Portugal fans after the team threw away a 1-0 lead over Serbia and lost 2-1, which reduced their chances of automatic World Cup qualifiers.
They will instead have to compete in the playoffs.
Renato Sanches had taken the lead for Selecao in the second minute, but a scream from Rui Patricio allowed Dusan Tadic to level the playing field in Lisbon. One point would have been enough for Portugal, but instead Aleksandar Mitrovic nodded in a winner for Serbia, who reached Qatar’s showpiece 2022 as Group A winner at the expense of Silva’s side.
The play-off group already includes teams such as Sweden, Scotland and Russia, while Poland, Italy, Wales and the Czech Republic can also be opponents for Portugal when the last matches from this international break are over and the second is finished.
After the match, Silva said: “It was a bad match for Portugal. We managed to score early but from then on we stopped playing. I can not find a good explanation for this, the words disappoint me.
“It was terrible, we have to do much better because we have a play-off in March and we will do our best to qualify. But at home, with 65,000 fans, we had to do much better.
“I apologize to the Portuguese [fans] who saw a match they should not have seen. The plan was to try to have the ball, we were completely dominated by Serbia. With the quality of our players, this is hardly allowed.
“I played a bit limited, I tried to give my best until the moment came when I thought another player would have better conditions.”
Silva himself took the assist for Sanche’s strike, but Premier League stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Diogo Jota endured calm matches before Mitrovic’s nod won it for Serbia.
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