At Belgrade, Portugal logged horns with Serbia for the World Cup Qualifiers. With the kind of players Portugal have and the kind of form they are in at the moment, a victory was expected, but the match ended in a 2-2 draw and in a controversial manner.
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) March 27, 2021
Cristiano Ronaldo left the pitch fuming second before the final whistle after he was denied a clear winner. He chased down a linesman and even threw his captain’s armband away in disgust at one point.
Complaints about VAR are usually related to players being millimetres offside or how it’s killing the charm of the game – however on last night’s match was shrouded in controversy for precisely the opposite reason: the lack of VAR technology.
The fallout from Portugal’s 2-2 draw with Serbia in qualifying for Qatar 2022 has been massive, after Cristiano Ronaldo was denied a stoppage-time goal which clearly crossed the line and would have given his side all three points. It’s a decision that would have almost definitely been altered by VAR or goal-line technology.
What drama at the end of Portugal vs Serbia. Ronaldo scores but no goal line technology. pic.twitter.com/wa6ZgFp2qd
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The involvement of goal-line technology and VAR are everywhere at the top-level football, but why it was absent at Belgrade raised questions.
Due to the fact that not all stadia involved in the qualifiers are equipped to use VAR or goal-line technology, it was deemed unfair to use it in some stadiums and not others, so the decision was taken by football’s governing bodies to not use it in any qualifiers to ensure a level playing field.
The reason Cristiano Ronaldo was so angry ? pic.twitter.com/8Wua9iNRSx
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Even the Spanish side faced a similar situation against Greece, where they were halted by a 1-1 draw the other night.
Greece were awarded a controversial penalty which was enough for them to take a point from the match.
A Diogo Jota double had given Portugal a 2-0 lead in the first half but Serbia striker Aleksandar Mitrovic became his country’s all-time top scorer on 39 goals from 63 international appearances after he pulled one back in the 46th minute.
Cristiano Ronaldo walked off the pitch before the final whistle at the end of the Serbia-Portugal game, and threw his captain's armband in frustration. pic.twitter.com/I2i9uwkPhM
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 27, 2021
The Serbians, who ended the match with 10-men, bounced back when Filip Kostic levelled and when the referee denied Ronaldo the winner, one can feel, Portugal and CR7 were robbed.
The anger was obvious and CR7 expressed his feelings on Instagram where he posted that he’s proud to captain the country and he will continue to give everything, but he just struggled to deal with that situation but he’s vowing that the team will bounce back.
Cristiano Ronaldo says the whole of Portugal is "being harmed" after his last minute winner did not stand ? pic.twitter.com/2CbjpUlAhI
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 28, 2021
Frustrated Portugal head coach Fernando Santos has demanded that VAR be used in qualifying matches following his side’s draw on Saturday.
“The referee apologized and I have great respect for him, but it is not permissible that, in a competition like this, there is no VAR or goal-line technology,” Santos told A Bola.
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“The ball was half a metre inside the goal, there was no obstacle between the goalkeeper and the goal line. It was very clear.”
Having both won their opening games in the group, Serbia and Portugal move on to four points each in World Cup qualifying.