• Nicklas Bendtner equalises in last second to send tie to extra time • Bookies mark Portuguese out to underdogs ahead of second-leg tie
Portugal’s 2-1 extra-time defeat to Serbia means they are facing an anxious wait to find out if they can go on to the World Cup finals in Russia after the Netherlands lost to Sweden on Tuesday.
Nicklas Bendtner’s late equaliser sends playoff with Portugal to extra time Read more
Nicklas Bendtner scored the winner for Serbia in the second extra time after coming on as a substitute with the score at 1-1, bringing an end to a match featuring some goalmouth acrobatics, a penalty miss and the sending off of Portugal’s captain and striker Cristiano Ronaldo.
Portugal, who are third in Group B, now face a difficult second leg in Belgrade on Tuesday where they must score twice to avoid elimination. “We have played the same way as against Spain, we were brave, the best we’ve been in the European Championship qualifiers,” coach Fernando Santos said.
“But we’ve made a mistake that even we ourselves admit. I believe we can do it, we have plenty of belief and I’m confident that what we did in the first half will continue for 90 minutes.”
The three-times European champions edged out Austria 2-1 in a key qualifier two weeks ago, but after cruising through the group they now face the prospect of another late slip-up.
“For the first time we lost to one of the world’s top teams at home,” Santos added. “We have missed out on two really important goals.”
Ronaldo, who had two golden chances in extra time, was sent off in the first half for a second yellow card, but hopes of denying Serbia their first ever appearance at a World Cup finals now rest on a positive result in Belgrade.
Serbia, who missed the last World Cup in Brazil, now need a win to reach Russia. Bendtner has now scored 10 goals for Serbia, and their coach Slavoljub Muslin hailed the striker.