Cristiano Ronaldo wants Portugal to recover quickly after the splendid defeat that prevented the team from securing a place at next year’s World Cup.
Playing at home and only needing a draw to secure a place in the tournament in Qatar, Portugal succumbed in the 90th minute in Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Serbia and were relegated to next year’s playoffs. with 11 other nations.
“Football has shown us time and time again that sometimes the most difficult paths are the ones that lead us to the most desired results,” Ronaldo said on Instagram on Monday.
The 36-year-old veteran could face his last World Cup after making four consecutive tournament appearances since 2006.
“Yesterday’s result was tough, but not hard enough to bring us down,” he said. “The goal of being in the 2022 World Cup is still very much alive and we know what we need to do to get there.
“No apologies,” he said. “Portugal on its way to Qatar”.
Portugal looked good early in the match against Serbia at Lisbon’s Stadium of Light, scoring after two minutes with Renato Sanches. But then he struggled, allowing the visitor to equalize with Dusan Tadic in 33rd and seeing substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic score the winning goal at the end.
Ronaldo was upset after scoring in the final, moaning and yelling at his teammates from midfield as he waited for play to resume. After the final whistle, he sat on the pitch alone, shaking his head and looking desolated. Some teammates and opponents approached to console him.
Veteran goalkeeper Rui Patricio was charged with a mistake on the first goal when he failed to hold the ball after Tadic’s shot was deflected onto a Portugal defender.
Coach Fernando Santos was also under pressure and heard some resignation requests at home.
“I’m sad and frustrated, but I still have faith in myself and my players,” said Santos. “The latest results have been negative, but there is no reason why we shouldn’t have faith in ourselves.”
Portugal had just returned from a draw against Ireland, already eliminated. He entered the finals level on points with Serbia after seven games, but had the advantage of being able to qualify with a draw due to a better goal difference.
“Miserable” and “World Shame” were some of the headlines in the Portuguese newspaper on Monday.
Portugal will face the playoffs with the other nine group runners-up and the two group winners of the UEFA Nations League. The 12 countries will play in three four-team groups next March, with the seeded teams earning a home game in the group semi-finals.
Portugal have played in every World Cup since 2002 after failing to reach the tournament from 1990 to 1998. He was eliminated by Uruguay in the round of 16 of the World Cup in Russia in 2018.
Serbia had already recovered from two fewer goals to earn a 2-2 draw with Portugal in the qualifying match in March.