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Monnows Serbia stuns Portugal, serve it cold for Cristiano

Aleksandar Mitrovic’s 90th-minute header left Portugal devastated in a 2-1 win for the team
Aleksandar Mitrovic of Serbia celebrates with teammates after scoring the winner in Lisbon on Sunday.

Agencies   |   Lisbon   |   Published 16.11.21, 03:39 AM

Spain and Serbia are heading to next year’s World Cup. Sweden and Portugal aren’t — not yet, anyway.

Aleksandar Mitrovic’s 90th-minute header left Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal stunned in a 2-1 win for Serbia in Lisbon, which gave Serbia an automatic qualifying spot at the World Cup in Qatar.


Portugal still has a chance to qualify, but it must navigate a four-team bracket in the playoffs in March.

Spain only needed a draw in their last game against Sweden to qualify, but Alvaro Morata made sure in the 86th minute with the only goal in a 1-0 win to leave veteran Sweden star Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s hopes of another World Cup appearance depending on the playoffs.

‘No excuses’

Portugal were in a strong position when Renato Sanches scored the opening goal after just two minutes against Serbia, but Dusan Tadic kept Serbia in the game with an equaliser in the 33rd.

Mitrovic’s late header silenced the crowd and shocked Portugal’s players, including Ronaldo, who sat on the field at the final whistle.

“Football has shown us time and time again that sometimes the most difficult paths are the ones that lead us to the most desired outcomes,” Ronaldo said on Instagram on Monday.

“Sunday’s result was tough, but not tough enough to get us down,” he said. “The goal of being in the 2022 World Cup is still very much alive and we know what we have to do to get there. No excuses,” he said.

Morata delivers

Substitute Morata scored the winner for Spain after Dani Olmo’s long-range shot bounced off the post to send Spain to its 12th consecutive World Cup. At the age of 40, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was bidding to reach his first World Cup since 2006 with Sweden — he didn’t make the squad in 2018 — but couldn’t change the game after coming off the bench in the 74th.

Another romp

On a night of drama, Germany stayed calm in a straightforward win. Germany qualified last month and has spent this week burnishing their already impressive goal difference to +32, the best in European qualifying at the moment.

Except for Hansi Flick’s winning record as Germany coach, there wasn’t much riding on the 4-1 win over Armenia, a team which had only the slimmest mathematical chance of qualifying for the playoffs.

Two goals from Ilkay Gundogan helped Flick earn his seventh win from seven games in charge.

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