Winner take all in Lisbon with both sides coming into this one neck and neck on 17 points in Group A but Portugal with the upper hand on goal difference. It is not often that we say this but Portuguese coach Fernando Santos got his tactics absolutely wrong. He turned to counter attacking soccer against opposition which was individually inferior to his players. Right from the contentious Renato Sanches goal, they went into defense mode which suited the passing game of the Serbs. Serbia’s midfield five overwhelmed the three of Portugal , Danilo ,Moutinho(who had one of his worst games in a red shirt) and Renato. Their captain Ajax’s Dusan Tadic was impressive but the player who was colosssal in this one was Sergej Milinkovic Savic , comfortable in possession and never seems to give the ball away. Tadic makes the run behind the backline adding the extra man Credit to the Serbs ,the early goal had the potential to unsettle them but they recovered well. Indeed no foul in the build up from Bernado Sliva.
Big call for firebrand Serb coach Stojkovic for the number 9 choosing between Mitrovic and Fiorentina front man Vlahovic. He went for form with Vlahovic and he nearly equalized on the midway point of the first half when he struck Patricio’s post. It was Mitrovic who had the final say in this match. CR7 fans will not like what I have to say here but it has to be said. The Portugal captain didn’t hold the line well, he drifts out of position to the wing leaving no one to aim the crosses at. No surprises the home side never conjured up any other clear cut chances after the first goal. Rui Patricio is known to make the odd howler here and there but if Portugal ultimately fails to make it to Qatar he will likely be made the scapegoat. Mitrovic’s major strength is his aerial capability. He is the kind of guy I want at the end of crosses defending a lead in injury time or searching for the equalizer as well as he proved there. Portugal settle for the 12 team playoffs in March, with only 3 teams going to Qatar. Their chances just got slimmer at 25%. A famous night for Serbian soccer.