Sweden, Portugal, and Russia are not into the World Cup, for now, while Spain, Serbia, and Croatia made it to the major event.
Aleksandar Mitrovic’s 90th-minute header left Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal stunned in a 2-1 win for Serbia in Lisbon, which gave Serbia an automatic qualifying spot at the World Cup in Qatar. Portugal still has a chance to qualify, but it must navigate a four-team bracket in the playoffs in March.
All of the teams which booked a World Cup place in Europe on Sunday did so with dramatic late goals.
Spain only needed a draw in its last game against Sweden to qualify, but Álvaro Morata made sure in the 86th minute with the only goal in a 1-0 win to leave veteran Sweden star Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s hopes of another World Cup appearance depending on the playoffs.
Portugal Has Made Its Journey More Difficult
Portugal was in a strong position when Renato Sanches scored the opening goal after just two minutes against Serbia, but Dusan Tadic kept Serbia in the game with an equalizer in the 33rd. Mitrovic’s late header silenced the crowd and shocked Portugal’s players, including Ronaldo, who sat on the field at the final whistle.
Mitrovic stated that the game was amazing and they fully deserved the win and to be in Qatar.
Beating them for the first time marks a turnaround after Serbia failed to qualify for the European Championship.
There’s one positive for Ronaldo’s side. Its comparatively strong record in the group means it will be one of the seeded teams for the playoffs in March and will get a home draw for the single-leg bracket semifinal game. Portugal last missed a World Cup in 1998.