ATLANTA, GEORGIA—The dream of Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal to gain an outright slot in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar took a backseat on Sunday.
Portugal suffered a 2-1 defeat against Serbia in their Group A qualifier on Sunday.
A 90th-minute header by half-time substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic lifted Serbia into the group’s top spot on 20 points, three more than second-placed Portugal, which only needed a draw to finish on top on goal difference and qualify.
With the win, Serbia gets a slot to the World Cup while Portugal will head into the March playoffs with the other group-stage runners-up to try to reach Qatar 2022.
Last October 12, Ronaldo recorded his 10th international hat trick in Portugal’s 5-0 win over Luxembourg in a World Cup Qualifier game.
The 36-year-old Ronaldo has taken his tally to 115 goals for the national team, while he has now netted 794 senior goals since scoring his first professional goal on Oct. 7, 2002.
“Another victory, another step towards our goal, another historic night in defense of our colours!” Ronaldo said in an Instagram post.
“I had promised that I would always be looking for more and more and more! It is in my DNA and in our DNA, we are never satisfied, we never let our arms down and we will always fight for everything we can achieve!,” Ronaldo added.
Last October 9, Ronaldo scored his 112th international goal which further extended the men’s record he broke last month in Portugal’s 3-0 friendly win against 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar.
Ronaldo scored the opening goal for his country eight minutes before half-time with a close-range finish after a cross from Manchester United teammate Diogo Dalot deflected off a Qatar defender.
Last September 29, Ronaldo also broke the all-time Champions League appearance record with his last-minute goal that helped Manchester United beat Villarreal 2-1.
Ronaldo’s appearance in the game gave him 182 which broke the previous record of retired goalkeeper Iker Casillas 181 appearances.
Holding a record is not new for Ronaldo, the Portuguese soccer superstar also holds several other records in the men’s tournament, including the most titles with five.
He is also the top goalscorer with 137 goals, as well as clocking up the most assists with 42.
Paris Saint-Germain’s Lionel Messi trails Ronaldo in both categories, with 121 goals and 36 assists.
Ronaldo has also scored the most penalties with 19, while Messi is second again with 16.