Portugal were undone in the last minute against Serbia meaning their World Cup spot next year is in jeopardy with Cristiano Ronaldo and his team-mates accused of “fear”
Portugal boss Fernando Santos has singled out Bernardo Silva for praise but claimed Cristiano Ronaldo and the rest of his team-mates played with “fear and anxiety” as they lost to Serbia.
The Euro 2016 champions were beaten in the last minute as Aleksandar Mitrovic notched the winner in Lisbon.
It now means Portugal ‘s place at the 2022 World Cup is in jeopardy as they’re forced into the play-offs.
Serbia advance as group winners leaving Ronaldo to sweat on whether he will play in a record-equalling fifth World Cup.
Renato Sanches had given Portugal an early lead before the Serbians turned the game around.
After the reverse Santos claimed his side reverted away from their “DNA” and appeared to swipe at his players’ lack of courage – with Ronaldo included.
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He said: “It looked like it was going to be, but it wasn’t. We scored the goal, we had the initial moments. But then we started to drop deep a lot.
“The players tried. But then we didn’t turn the game on. Every time we did, we created problems. But most of the time we couldn’t.
“Serbia were better. We tried. Our DNA is to have the ball on our feet and play. Bernardo Silva wanted the ball, but he was the only one. We played with fear and anxiety. It’s my responsibility.”
Since winning Euro 2016 in France, Portugal have dumped out of the 2018 World Cup at the last 16 stage.
Belgium then beat them at this summer’s Euros, also at the last 16 stage.
Nevertheless Santos is adamant his country will be in the middle east next year having qualified for every World Cup since 2002.
The Portugal boss added: “We’ll be in Qatar. We know we didn’t do what we should, but we’ll be there.
“We’ve always played to win and think about the offensive moment. But it doesn’t always turn out as we want. And it’s my responsibility.”
Bernardo has apologised to the fans after his country lost at the Estadio da Luz in the dying moments.
He said: “It was terrible, we have to do much better because we have a play-off in March and we will do our best to qualify. But at home, with 65,000 fans, we had to do much better.
“I apologise to the Portuguese (fans) who watched a game they shouldn’t have watched. The plan was to try to have the ball, we were completely dominated by Serbia. With the quality of our players this is hardly admissible.”
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