Saturday, July 2, 2022

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Ronaldo denied as Serbia hold Portugal, Turkey smash Norway

Cristiano Ronaldo was controversially denied an injury-time winner as Portugal blew a two-goal lead to be held 2-2 by Serbia in World Cup qualifying on Saturday.

European champions Portugal appeared to be cruising to three points in Belgrade when leading 2-0 at the interval through Liverpool winger Diogo Jota’s first-half double.

Nemanja Radonjic’s halftime introduction proved crucial for Serbia, though, as he set up Aleksandar Mitrovic and Filip Kostic to net in the first 15 minutes of the second period.

In the end, Portugal had to settle for a 2-2 draw, with Ronaldo left frustrated as he appeared to have netted in the 93rd minute, but without VAR or goalline technology in use, officials decided that Serbia defender Stefan Mitrovic had cleared the ball before it crossed the line.

Romelu Lukaku’s 59th international goal was only enough to salvage Belgium a 1-1 draw with the Czech Republic.

The world no I ranked side sit behind the Czech Republic on goal difference in the early Group E standings.

Lukas Provod put the Czechs ahead shortly after halftime in Prague with a magnificent long-range strike to score his first international goal.

But 10 minutes later, Lukaku collected Kevin De Bruyne’s pass, turned his marker and drilled the ball under home goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik to score for the 19th time in his last 16 games for the Red Devils.

Roberto Martinez’s men almost took the lead 14 minutes from time, but after Lukaku teed up De Bruyne, the Manchester City midfielder smashed a low shot against the post.

In the other Group A game, Luxembourg pulled off a shock 1-0 win over a lacklustre Republic of Ireland in Dublin.

Frank de Boer’s Netherlands gave the 5 000 fans allowed to attend at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam something to cheer as Steven Berghuis’s 32nd-minute curling effort and Luuk de Jong’s second-half header saw off Latvia.

The match was the first World Cup qualifier to be refereed by a woman, as France’s Stephanie Frappart took charge.

Fenerbahce midfielder Ozan Tufan scored twice as Turkey beat a dangerous Norway side.

Leicester centre-back Caglar Soyuncu also enjoyed a fine performance as he netted the second goal and helped keep Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Braut Haaland quiet.

Russia, World Cup quarterfinalists on home soil three years ago, moved top of the early Group H table with a 2-1 victory over Slovenia, who had started their campaign by beating 2018 runners-up Croatia.

Croatia struggled to find their best form again, but Mario Pasalic’s header five minutes before the break helped Zlatko Dalic’s men edge out Cyprus 1-0 in Rijeka.

Slovakia are already struggling in their bid to qualify, after being held to a 2-2 home draw by minnows Malta.

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