Serbia come from behind, Portugal left stunned
Serbia stunned Portugal in Lisbon on Sunday evening as they came from a goal behind to win 2-1 late on at the Estadio da Luz, sealing their place at next year’s World Cup in Qatar and condemning their hosts to a place in the playoffs.
Portugal came into Sunday’s meeting knowing that a draw would be enough to see them book their ticket to Qatar next winter, and everything looked to be going smoothly when they took the lead inside two minutes thanks to Renato Sanches.
SERBIA DEFEAT PORTUGAL 2-1 TO QUALIFY FOR THE 2022 WORLD CUP 😲
Portugal will now have to go through the playoffs for a spot. pic.twitter.com/BBPNNMuyYF
— B/R Football (@brfootball) November 14, 2021
But that was as good as it got for Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates, with the Manchester United forward having a quiet night in front of goal.
Dusan Tadic levelled for the visitors shortly after the half-hour mark, and the game continued to be played at both ends as each side pressed for a winner.
SERBIA ARE HEADED TO THE WORLD CUP! 🇷🇸
Portugal will be going to the playoff 😳 pic.twitter.com/DmGPGk3VtY
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) November 14, 2021
Aleksandar Mitrovic was introduced at halftime as Serbia went in search of that second goal, while Portugal struggled in their attempts to get control of the night’s action.
Late on as the clock ticked over into stoppage time, Mitrovic got on the end of a Tadic cross to head home a dramatic winner, having missed a similar chance just moments earlier. Booked for his celebrations, the Fulham forward is unlikely to have cared – Cristiano Ronaldo did have a chance to level, but he shot way too high.
Morata takes Spain to Qatar, sad night for Sweden
A late goal from Alvaro Morata secured Spain’s spot at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with a 1-0 triumph over Sweden on the final matchday of Group B of 2022 UEFA World Cup Qualifying on Sunday night at the Estadio La Cartuja in Sevilla.
With the result, Spain win the group with 19 points, finishing four points ahead of second-place Sweden.
▪️ Extra-time winner vs. Croatia in Euro 2020 round of 16
▪️ 80th-minute equalizer vs. Italy in Euro 2020 semifinals
▪️ 86th-minute winner vs. Sweden to seal World Cup qualification.
Álvaro Morata with another clutch goal for Spain this year 🌟 pic.twitter.com/RKfoVr1h42
— B/R Football (@brfootball) November 14, 2021
It was a nervy, tense affair between the two with things on a knife’s edge throughout until Spain’s incisiveness won out in the end with Morata’s late score, sending the 2010 World Champions to football’s biggest stage next year.
Coach Luis Enrique made six changes from the team that gutted out a 0-1 win in Greece on Thursday, although Raul de Tomas was kept on as a starting striker and paired with Dani Olmo, who replaced Alvaro Morata. There was also a change at full-back, with Cesar Azpilicueta and Jordi Alba in and Sergio Busquets in place of Rodri.
Spain had an overwhelming advantage in terms of possession to start, but it was Sweden’s Emil Forsberg who had the first real scoring chance against the run of play when he swung a left-footed shot wide.
The face of the game stayed the same; Spain with the ball but Sweden posing a threat when they were actually able to get a touch and for the second time of the half shortly before half-time, Forsberg had a goal on his boot but volleyed wide.
Spain started the second stanza in a sluggish fashion and were lucky that Sweden didn’t take better advantage of some slack Spanish defender.
"A World Cup without Zlatan isn't a World Cup."
Sweden will have to battle through the play-offs to make Qatar 2022 😬 pic.twitter.com/ajRJqYeAV7
— GOAL (@goal) November 14, 2021
Luis Enrique went to his bench at the hour mark, with Morata on for Pablo Sarabia and De Tomas making way for Rodrigo Moreno. The two attackers brought some fresh energy to the forward line, but the uneasy deadlock remained heading into the final 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, Sweden went to a very familiar name on their bench, with legendary striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic replacing Real Sociedad’s Alexander Isak with the hope that the 40-year-old former Barcelona man could summon a moment of magic.
There was also another change for the home side, with Mikel Merino substituting Carlos Soler, as Spain patiently sought to use their possession game to punish the increasingly desperate Swedes.
The tactic would finally pay off minutes from time when an Olmo strike from distance thundered off the crossbar, falling to an onside Morata, who continued playing while the Swedish defenders looked for the offside flag and calmly finished into the net for the 1-0 final scoreline.