Portugal manager Fernando Santos took responsibility for his side's World Cup qualifier loss last night. He claimed his players played with 'fear and anxiety' as they missed their chance at automatic qualification.
Portugal needed a draw last night against Serbia to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar next year but were beaten. The Euro 2016 champions were on their way to the World Cup finals until the 90th minute when Mitrovic scored a header to seal the win for the away side.
Santos' men now need to take part in the playoffs in March to secure their place in the World Cup. He took full responsibility for the loss and told the media:
"It looked like it was going to be, but it wasn't. We scored the goal, we had the initial moments. But then we started to drop deep a lot. The players tried. But then we didn't turn the game on. Every time we did, we created problems. But most of the time we couldn't. Serbia were better. We tried. Our DNA is to have the ball on our feet and play. Bernardo Silva wanted the ball, but he was the only one. We played with fear and anxiety. It's my responsibility."
When asked about the World Cup playoffs, Santos added:
"We'll be in Qatar. We know we didn't do what we should, but we'll be there. We've always played to win and think about the offensive moment. But it doesn't always turn out as we want. And it's my responsibility."
Serbia stun Portugal to qualify for World Cup
Serbia needed a win at all costs to make it to the World Cup next year via automatic qualification. Portugal, on the other hand, just needed a draw to secure top spot in the group and were playing at home.
Renato Sanches handed Portugal the lead in the 2nd minute of the game, but that was about it for the home side in the attack. Serbia dominated the game from then on and were desperate to get the win.
Just after the half-hour mark, Dusan Tadic's shot was half saved by Rui Patricio. But the AS Roma keeper was unable to keep it out of the goal as the ball spilled out of his hands and rolled in.
Aleksandar Mitrovic was introduced at halftime as Serbia chased the game. He scored the winner in the 90th minute to send them to Qatar and Portugal to the playoffs in March.