Portugal paid the price for poor finishing after their captain and top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo was forced off the pitch with an apparent hamstring problem during their Euro 2020 Group B qualifier against Serbia on Monday.
A 1-1 home draw, which followed a 0-0 stalemate against Ukraine on Friday, left European champions Portugal on two points and Ronaldo on the sidelines after he limped off in the 30th minute of an absorbing contest.
The 34-year-old pulled up after sprinting for the ball and was replaced by midfielder Pizzi with Serbia leading 1-0 through Dusan Tadic’s early penalty.
Central midfielder Danilo equalised with a long-range effort in the 42nd minute but the home side missed a string of chances as they lacked Ronaldo’s killer instinct against a rugged Serbian defence.
Ronaldo appeared to be pointing towards his right hamstring as he received treatment near the corner flag.
Speaking later he said: “We played quite well and created lots of chances. We played better than against Ukraine, but when the ball doesn’t want to go in, it simply doesn’t go in.”
Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic played down the impact of Ronaldo’s misfortune as he was quick to point out that his injury-hit side missed several key players.
“As far as whether Portugal missed Ronaldo, you must know that we were missing lots of players — and we do not have a huge selection to choose from, like some countries do,” he said.
Ronaldo, whose club Juventus visit Ajax Amsterdam in their Champions League quarter-final first leg on April 10, was making only his second Portugal appearance since last year’s World Cup.