Bernardo Mota Veiga de Carvalho e Silva, 28, known as Bernardo Silva or simply Bernardo, a Portuguese professional footballer who plays as an attacking midfielder or a winger for Premier League club Manchester City and the Portugal national team, has issued an apology to his country after Portugal threw away a one-goal lead to lose 2-1 to Serbia and drop into the World Cup qualifying play-offs.
Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the most consistent players in years now, needed just a point to reach next winter’s finals in Qatar and got off to the perfect start through Renato Sanches’ second-minute goal, but Dusan Tadic levelled Sunday’s winner-takes-all qualifier to create nerves in Lisbon.
The Portuguese national team and players thought they had done enough to earn World Cup qualification, but Aleksandar Mitrovic, Fulham player in English second division, headed home a 90th-minute winner to send Serbia through to the World Cup at the expense of the hosts – who now drop into March’s play-offs.
Bernardo, who was taken off for Bruno Fernandes just after the hour mark in Lisbon, could not find the words to describe Portugal’s display and felt he personally was not up to scratch in terms of an individual display.
“This wasn’t the kind of display or performance we wanted,It was really a bad game for Portugal,” the Manchester City star claimed after the game.
“We managed to score the goal early hoping to maintain the pressure but from then on we stopped playing. I cannot find a great explanation for this, words fail me.
“This encounter was really bad and out of nowhere It was terrible, we have to do much better because we have a play-off in March and we will do our best to qualify. But at home, with 65,000 fans, we had to do much better,” he continued.
“I personally apologise to the Portuguese (fans) who watched a game they shouldn’t have watched. The plan was to try to have the ball, we were completely dominated by Serbia. With the quality of our players this is hardly admissible.
“I wasn’t really myself today,I played a little bit limited,a little bit out from the form I was, I tried to give my best until the moment came when I thought that another player would be in better conditions,” Bernardo concluded.
Silva played a vital role in Portugal’s opener, winning the ball off Nemanja Gudelj on the edge of the Serbia penalty before finding Renato Sanches who fired home within 120 seconds of kick-off.
But Serbia grew into the match and Dusan Vlahovic struck the post in a warning sign for Portugal, one they did not listen to as Dusan Tadic found an equaliser on the half-hour mark by firing through Rui Patricio’s body and into the net.
The both sides continued to apply pressure in the second-half but an onslaught from Serbia in the final 10 minutes proved too much for Portugal, as Mitrovic headed home into the near post just as the clock turned into injury time.
Now, the Euro 2016 winners will need to win a March play-off to reach the World Cup finals next summer. Portugal have played in every single edition of the tournament since they last failed to qualify in 1998.
Portugal will join a play-off group that contains the likes of Sweden, Scotland, Russia as confirmed second-placed teams, while Poland are likely to join them on Monday.
And might or could be joined by the likes of Italy, Switzerland, Finland, Ukraine, Wales, Czech Republic, North Macedonia or Romania – depending on the rest of the week’s results and outcome of their encounter.