Cristiano Ronaldo: Portugal 'harmed' by disallowed goal in World Cup Qualifier against Serbia

Juventus forward thought he had scored a late winner as despite the ball being cleared by Stefan Mitrovic, replays appeared to show it has crossed the line; Portugal boss Fernando Santos says it is 'unacceptable' VAR and goal-line technology is not used in World Cup qualifying games

Ronaldo rages at disallowed 'goal' 1:23
Cristiano Ronaldo stormed off the pitch and threw his captain's armband on the floor after he was denied a last-minute winner against Serbia

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo says the whole nation has been "harmed" after being controversially denied an added-time winner in their World Cup qualifying 2-2 draw against Serbia.

The Juventus forward thought he had scored at the death as although his angled shot was cleared by defender Stefan Mitrovic, television replays appeared to show the ball crossing the line.

However, with no goal-line technology or VAR available in Belgrade his effort was disallowed.

Serbia v Portugal 4:39
Highlights of Serbia against Portugal from FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group A

A furious Ronaldo was booked for protesting before storming off the pitch at the final whistle and hurling away his captain's armband in disgust.

Ronaldo later took to Instagram to vent his frustrations, posting: "I always give and will give everything for my country, that will never change.

"But there are difficult times to deal with, especially when we feel that an entire nation is being harmed.

"We will keep our heads up and face the next challenge now."

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Liverpool forward Diogo Jota's double had put the visitors in control at the break, but second-half goals from Fulham's Aleksandar Mitrovic and Filip Kostic saw Serbia - who had Nikola Milenkovic sent off in stoppage time - hit back.

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo was left in disbelief his late goal against Serbia was chalked off 1:03
Portugal head coach Fernando Santos has urged VAR to be used after seeing Cristiano Ronaldo's goal ruled out in the draw with Serbia.

'Unacceptable' not to have VAR and goal-line technology

Following the incident, Portugal head coach Fernando Santos said it was 'unacceptable' that VAR and goal-line technology is not used in every World Cup qualifying game.

Speaking after the game, Santos said: "I was so furious with the situation.

"The referee apologised, he has seen the video and that's the second time it's happened, a referee apologising after a qualifying game.

"It's unacceptable to play a World Cup qualifying match without VAR and goal-line technology."

The result left both sides on four points from two games as Serbia edged Republic of Ireland 3-2 at home in their opening game on Wednesday while Portugal eked out a 1-0 win over Azerbaijan.

The draw also made for a bittersweet milestone for Portugal coach Fernando Santos, who reached a rare milestone of 1,000 games as head coach at club and international level combined in his 33-year long career in the dugout.

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo was booked and stormed off the pitch in disbelief after his late goal was disallowed
Image: Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo was booked and stormed off the pitch in disbelief after his late goal was disallowed

UEFA: Serbia, Portugal could have avoided controversy

UEFA has responded to the criticisms by claiming Portugal's late goal would have stood if the two countries had agreed to use goal-line technology before the game.

"The decision to use goal-line technology for the European Qualifiers lies with the host association for each match," the European governing body said.

"If the host association plans to implement goal-line technology, they must also obtain written consent from the visiting association in order for it to be used."

There was no VAR in place to review the incident either with UEFA adding that the coronavirus pandemic had made it impossible to install the system in time for the qualifiers.

"In 2019 UEFA had proposed to (world soccer governing body) FIFA the implementation of VAR in the current World Cup qualifiers," UEFA added.

"The impact of the pandemic on operational and logistical capabilities led UEFA to delay the implementation of VAR in the Europa League group phase (to 2021-22 instead of 2020-21) as well as to withdraw the proposal to implement VAR in the 2022 European qualifiers.

"VAR was also not in use in the UEFA Nations League group stage in the autumn of 2020 and has therefore to-date never been used in UEFA national team qualifying group stage matches."

FIFA, which organises the World Cup, said it was informed by UEFA in January that VAR could not be used in qualifiers due to the "issues and restrictions" caused by the coronavirus.

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