Serbia set up shop rather like Ukraine had done at the same Luz stadium days before. Portugal created more chances than in that game, but their finishing was weak and they became increasingly desperate and diffuse as the seconds ticked away. A defensive mix-up gifted Serbia the opening goal, Rui Patrício bringing Gacinovic down and Tadic sending the keeper the wrong way from the spot. Portugal lost Cristiano Ronaldo on the half hour through injury, and you have to wonder whether his killer instinct might have put away some of the many chances created after that. Portugal did e qualise just before the break, Danilo taking the ball from the halfway line befre curling a fabulous shot past the left hand of the excellent Dmitrovic from 25 metres.
It was mainly Portugal in the second half, and they improved with the substitution of striker André Silva for Dyego Sousa, who was making his first start. Fifteen minutes from the end Rukavina clearly handled in the area from an André Silva header. The referee gave a penalty but was corrected, erroneously, by his linesman. Portugal’s players and coach Fernando Santos were incensed: "How can a linesman who's 40 metres away get the ref to change a valid decision? After the game the ref apologised to me for his mistake."
Portugal stutter, then, at the beginning of their defence of the European title, but they lost their first qualifying game for the Euro 2016 Championship that they went on to win, so it’s not the end of the world ... yet.
Portugal: Rui Patrício, João Cancelo, Pepe, Rúben Dias, Raphael Guerreiro, Bernardo Silva, Danilo, William Carvalho, Rafa Silva (Gonçalo Guedes 84), Cristiano Ronaldo (Pizzi 31), Dyego Sousa (André Silva 58)
Portugal could only draw 0-0 against an ultra-defensive Ukraine in their opening qualifier for EURO 2020. Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe came close in the first half but were foiled by Ukraine’s best player and the Man of the Match, the keeper Pyatov. He kept Portugal out in the second half, too, and near the end, Júnior Moraes almost hit a shock winner for Ukraine after Rui Patrício had spilled a long-shot; Rúben Dias deflected the effort for a corner. For Portugal, Brazil-born Dyego Sousa made his debut. There were 58,350 at the Luz, two or three thousand of them vociferous Ukraine fans.
Portugal: Rui Patrício, João Cancelo, Pepe, Rúben Dias, Raphaël Guerreiro, Rúben Neves (Rafa Silva 62), João Moutinho (João Mário 86), William, Cristiano Ronaldo, André Silva (Dyego Sousa 73), Bernardo Silva
Sporting midfielder and captain, Bruno Fernandes, widely rated as the player of the season so far in the Portuguese Liga, has withdrawn from the Euro-qualifier squad due to physical limitations.
Fernando Santos called up 25 players for the double-header of qualification for Euro 2020: the Group B games against Ukraine (22 March at 19.45) and Serbia (25 March, also at 19.45). Both games are to be played at Benfica’s Luz Stadium in Lisbon.
A surprise is a first call-up for Braga’s Brazil-born striker Dyego Sousa, in Portugal for ten years; he has 14 Liga goals to date. Also in are young Benfica revelation Jõao Félix and Rúben Neves and Diogo Jota, doing great things at Wolverhampton Wanderers this season. Keeper José Sá gets the nod over Anthony Lopes of Lyon. And back comes phenomenon Cristiano Ronaldo after time off to settle in at Juventus.
Goalkeepers: Rui Patrício (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Beto (Goztepe), José Sá (Olympiakos)
Defenders: João Cancelo (Juventus), Nélson Semedo (Barcelona), José Fonte (Lille), Pepe (FC Porto), Rúben Dias (Benfica), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund), Mário Rui (Napoli).
Midfielders: Danilo Pereira (FC Porto), Rúben Neves (Wolverhampton Wanderers), William Carvalho (Bétis), Bruno Fernandes (Sporting), João Mário (Inter), João Moutinho (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Pizzi (Benfica)
Forwards: Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), João Félix (Benfica), Gonçalo Guedes (Valencia), Rafa Silva (Benfica), André Silva (Sevilla), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Diogo Jota (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Dyego Sousa (Sporting Braga).