Portugal will have to navigate the play-offs to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.
The Selecao were in complete control of their qualifying match with Serbia on Sunday night having taken the lead in the opening exchanges when Renato Sanches emphatically found the net.
However, Serbia are no pushovers and fought back from behind to book themselves a place in Qatar with their opponents, the former European champions no less, looking largely uninspired.
Serbia score last-gasp winner
Rui Patricio watched as the ball dribbled through his hands and into the net to allow Dusan Tadic to level the scores on 33 minutes, before the second-half looked almost certain to finish goalless.
A draw would have been enough for Portugal to qualify for what would surely be Cristiano Ronaldo’s final chance of World Cup glory, but the drama wasn’t finished there as Serbia pounced at the death.
A well-directed header from Aleksandar Mitrović just as stoppage time loomed was enough to cause a massive upset for Serbia and you can check out the crazy scenes in all their glory down below:
Aleksandar Mitrović scored an injury-time winner as Serbia leapfrogged Portugal to seal their place at the 2022 World Cup! 🇷🇸🔥 pic.twitter.com/EOod5NCYAR
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) November 14, 2021
SERBIA TAKE THE LEAD IN THE LAST MINUTE! ALEKSANDAR MITROVIC!!
— Ronald Morgan (@ronaldmorgan_) November 14, 2021
Absolute madness. Just look what it means to the Serbia players.
So, what now?
Serbia have now joined Germany, Denmark, Brazil, Belgium, France, Croatia, Spain and hosts Qatar amongst the nations who are confirmed to be competing at next year’s winter tournament.
And although Portugal will still be fancied to haul themselves to the finals through the play-off process, there can be no denying just how much of a blow Mitrović’s late goal will have been.
Fernando Santos’ men will be seeded at home for their play-off semi-final, but there is no guarantee that they won’t be on the road when it comes to the game that will decide their World Cup fate.
Portugal face the play-offs
Portugal and Russia are the current seeded nations in the play-off system with the likes of Wales, Scotland, Austria and North Macedonia also playing extra games in the hope of reaching Qatar.
The semi-final matches of the UEFA play-offs will be battled out between March 24 and 25, while the finals will be contested on March 28 and 29 with three nations able to secure qualification.
So, strap yourselves in, because we could have some serious drama on our hands if Ronaldo is going to get one more shot at adding football’s ultimate prize to his infinite list of trophies.