Serbia 2-2 Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo has last-gasp goal controversially denied in qualifier
World Cup qualification Group A, Stadion Rajko Mitic – Serbia 2 (Mitrovic 46’, Kostic 60’) Portugal 2 (Jota 11’, 36’)
Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal furious as Portugal robbed last minute goal clearly over the line during the World Cup Qualifier match between Serbia v Portugal at the Stadion Rajko Mitic on March 27, 2021 in Belgrade Serbia
Serbia fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Portugal in a high-octane, controversial World Cup Qualifier in Belgrade.
Portugal were looking to make it back-to-back wins in Group A on manager Fernando Santos' 1000th game as a coach, but Diogo Jota's two first-half headers were cancelled out by goals from record breaker Aleksandar Mitrovic and Filip Kostic.
Portugal looked to have been denied a last-gasp winner by the linesman as Cristiano Ronaldo saw his finish cleared off the line, but television replays suggest the ball went over.
Portugal's first opportunity arrived to Ronaldo in the ninth minute, but after some good work from Bernardo Silva to tee up Portugal's all-time top scorer at the near post, he smashed his first-time effort over the bar.
The visitors took the lead in the 12th minute when Silva's inswinging cross from the right flank was met by Jota, who crept in at the far post to nod into the bottom corner.
Serbia failed to respond before the Liverpool forward's second goal arrived in similar fashion. This time Cedric Soares provided the cross from the right which Jota met unmarked and steered it into the bottom corner past a statuesque Marko Dmitrovic in goal. Jota's second header made it his fifth goal in just nine appearances for his country.
'The referee has apologised' - Furious Santos on Ronaldo disallowed goal
Serbia made two changes at the break and immediately the hosts pulled a goal back. Nemanja Radonjic's first action in the game was a lofted cross from the right into the area for Mitrovic to nod in. It was Mitrovic's 39th goal for his country to become the nation's all-time record goalscorer.
Serbia then equalised on the hour-mark following a rapid, clinical counter-attack which began in their own box. Radonjic played an incisive pass into the path of Kostic who calmly slotted the ball past Lopes to leave the visitors shellshocked.
Portugal pushed on for a winner and there was late drama deep into injury-time. First, Serbia were reduced to ten men as Nikola Milenkovic was shown a harsh straight red for a crunching challenge on Danilo Pereira.
Then in the final few seconds, Ronaldo thought he had scored the winner, but his tidy finish from a tricky angle was apparently cleared off the line by Stefan Mitrovic, according to the linesman. Ronaldo was subsequently booked for his protests. It looked as though it crossed the line.
When the final whistle blew, Ronaldo threw his captain's armband to the ground and stormed down the tunnel in disgust.
Cristiano Ronaldo throws down the captain's armband
Image credit: Getty Images
TALKING POINT - Did the ball cross the line?
Serbia did magnificently well to come back from two goals down, but the game will be remembered for the final seconds.
Photos and replays suggest Portugal and Ronaldo were denied all three points with no goal-line technology to turn to.
Cristiano Ronaldo gol fantasma
Image credit: Twitter
MAN OF THE MATCH - Nemanja Radonjic
Jota did score two goals and also had a fine performance, but Radonjic completely changed the complexion of the match in just one half.
Serbia looked down and out at the break but he energised Serbia's attack and grabbed two excellent assists. His vision to set up Serbia's well-crafted equaliser in particular was highly commendable.
Portugal: Lopes (6), Cancelo (6), Dias (6), Fonte (5), Cedric (6), Fernandes (6), Oliveira (6), Danilo (6), Jota (8), Silva (7), Ronaldo (6)
Subs: Mendes (6), Sanches (6), Felix (N/A), Palhinha (N/A)
9' - OVER! Jota slips a through ball to Silva who surges into the box. He tees up Ronaldo at the near post but the 36-year-old blasts his close-range shot over the bar! That looked destined to be a goal when Ronaldo took control of that. That was a big miss!
12' - GOAL!! Jota finds the net with a header at the far-post after he meets Silva's delightful inswinging cross from the right flank! It's the perfect start for coach Fernando Santos on his 1000th game and his team!
37' - GOAL!! It's a second for Jota and it's another neat header to extend Portugal's lead! Cedric's cross finds the Liverpool man free in the centre of the penalty area and he nods home into Dmitrovic's bottom right corner. Portugal are cruising!
47' - IT'S A GOAL!! Straight away Serbia pull one back and it is Aleksandar Mitrovic with the 39th goal for his country to become their all-time record goalscorer aged just 26! Radonjic's cross is nodded in by Mitrovic who rises above Fonte to turn it home. Serbia back in this!
60' - GOAL! Serbia equalise!! It's a rapid, clinical counter-attack that ultimately does it. Radonjic plays an incisive pass into the path of Kostic who calmly slots the ball past Lopes! Serbia are back in this! Portugal are stunned!
90+2' - RED CARD! Late drama here as Milenkovic is shown a straight red for a crunching challenge on Danilo. It was a poor sliding challenge but a straight red seems harsh. Serbia down to ten!
90+4' - OFF THE LINE! Unbelievable! Serbia clear the ball off the line!! First Ronaldo's finish is slid off by Mitrovic! Ronaldo is then booked for his protests! There is no VAR here and it looked very, very close. Did it go over the line? It must have been centimetres! Ronaldo is fuming and throws his armband down in disgust and storms down the tunnel.