Portugal have received an apology from the referee responsible for failing to award Cristiano Ronaldo’s last-gasp winner against Serbia.
The Juventus forward thought he had fired his country to a 3-2 victory but was left furious after his effort was deemed not to have crossed the line.
Ronaldo was booked for pleading with the officials before storming off the pitch with the full-time whistle not yet blown in the World Cup qualifier.
Although the ball did appear to have narrowly crossed the line, the 36-year-old drew criticism for his angry reaction and for throwing away the captain’s armband as he marched off.
It will come as little solace to Ronaldo, but referee Danny Makkelie has now offered his apologies to Portuguese players and coaching staff.
“As per FIFA’s policies, all I can say is that I apologised to the national coach, Fernando Santos, and to the Portuguese team for what happened,” the Dutch referee told Portuguese outlet A Bola .
“As a referee team, we always work hard to make good decisions. When we are in the news in this manner, it doesn’t make us happy at all.”
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Santos, like Ronaldo, was furious after the goal was not given, which denied Portugal the chance to go top of World Cup Qualifiers Group A.
“It is not permissible that, in a competition like this, there is no VAR or goal-line technology,” said Santos.
“The ball was half a metre inside the goal, there was no obstacle between the goalkeeper and the goal line. It was very clear.
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“The referees make mistakes, they are human, but this is what VAR exists for.”
In an impassioned Instagram post, Ronaldo wrote: “Being captain of the Portugal national team is one of the greatest honours and privileges of my life.
“I give and will always give my all for my country, that will never change. “But there are difficult moments to cope with, especially when we feel like an entire nation is being harmed. Head up and face the next challenge! Come on Portugal!”
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