Serbia, Spain qualify for 2022 World Cup, Portugal stunned

Serbia beat Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal with a 2-1 comeback while Spain win over Sweden by 1-0



Serbia's defender Uros Spajic (R) heads the ball next to Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo (C) and Serbia's defender Strahinja Pavlovic (L) during the FIFA World Cup  2022 qualification group A football match. — AFP
Serbia's defender Uros Spajic (R) heads the ball next to Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo (C) and Serbia's defender Strahinja Pavlovic (L) during the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualification group A football match. — AFP

By Agencies

Published: Mon 15 Nov 2021, 2:13 AM

Last updated: Mon 15 Nov 2021, 2:16 AM

Serbia stunned Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal to qualify for the 2022 World Cup as Aleksandar Mitrovic’s 90th minute winner secured a 2-1 victory in Lisbon on Sunday.

Portugal now face two rounds of playoffs in March if they are to make it to Qatar, unlike Spain, who qualified with a 1-0 win over Sweden thanks to Alvaro Morata’s goal four minutes from time in Seville.

The 90th-minute header by halftime substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic gave Serbia a comeback 2-1 win over Portugal in their Group A qualifier.

The result lifted Serbia into top spot on 20 points, three more than second-placed Portugal who only needed a draw to finish top on goal difference and qualify but will now head into the March playoffs.

Mitrovic beat home goalkeeper Rui Patricio with a downward header at the far post to spark wild celebrations on Serbia’s bench after visiting captain Dusan Tadic had cancelled out an early Renato Sanches opener for Portugal.

Substitute Alvaro Morata scored late as Spain beat Sweden 1-0, leaving Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s team facing the playoffs.

Morata scored the winner from inside the area in the 86th minute after a long-range shot by Dani Olmo struck the post.

The victory in the tense match in Seville secured Spain first place in Group B and the automatic spot in next year’s tournament in Qatar.

The 40-year-old Ibrahimovic came off the bench in the 74th but couldn’t spark the visitors to victory, which was the only result it needed to avoid the playoffs.

Spain finished with 19 points, four more than Sweden, which will be drawn against the other nine runners-up and two group winners from the UEFA Nations League. The playoffs will be played in March with the 12 nations playing in three four-team brackets. The seeded teams will get a home game in the bracket semifinals.

Sweden made it to the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup but didn’t qualify for the tournament in 2014 and 2010.

Spain has qualified for every World Cup since 1978, winning its lone global title in 2010 in South Africa. It was eliminated by host Russia in the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup.


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