Serbia players offered hefty reward to beat Ronaldo in World Cup decider

Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portugal team-mates take on Serbia in Lisbon on Sunday, knowing they must avoid defeat if they are to secure qualification for next winter’s World Cup

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Serbia players are reportedly in line for a massive reward if they can overcome the odds and beat Portugal in their make-or-break World Cup qualifier on Sunday.

The two nations are deadlocked at the top of Group A, level on points going into the final set of matches in their pool.

Portugal are ahead of Serbia by virtue of goal difference alone and know that a draw in Lisbon will be enough to book their place in Qatar next winter.

But according to Cabine Desportiva, their opponents will not only have the incentive of booking their place in next year’s showpiece but could also be financially rewarded.

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The report suggests that the Serbian squad were made aware on their flight to Portugal that they will be given a pot of €1million, if they can earn all three points.

It is claimed that the president of the Serbian FA brokered the deal with the country’s government, with players informed shortly after.

Cristiano Ronaldo will be going all out to ensure Serbia don’t get their hands on that money as he goes in search of the 800th goal of his illustrious career.

The 36-year-old had a quiet evening in Dublin on Thursday, with his major influence coming when he was confronted by a young pitch invader after the full-time whistle.

Security attempted to usher the girl off the pitch only for Ronaldo to give the star-struck youngster his shirt.

But other than that, the Manchester United superstar was left frustrated as the Republic of Ireland held them to a 0-0 draw at the Aviva Stadium.

It could have been even worse for Fernando Santos’s side when Matt Doherty thought he had scored what would have been an injury-time winner.

Cristiano Ronaldo could score his 800th career goal in the World Cup qualification decider

However, the referee cut Irish celebrations short, adjudging that Roma keeper Rui Patricio had been fouled shortly before Doherty’s effort.

Serbia earned a draw in the reverse fixture back in March and Portugal boss Santos is confident home advantage will ensure his side rubber stamp their spot in the World Cup.

“A draw or a 5-0 win was the same thing, but of course I would rather win. It’s a positive result and we know that,” he said after the draw in Ireland.

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“At this moment, the Serbia team has to play in our stadium to win the game. I’m convinced we’re going to be at the World Cup.”

Santos surprised many observers with his selection on Thursday, leaving out the likes of Joao Cancelo, Diogo Jota and Renato Sanches.

All of those were one booking away from a yellow and rather than risk them missing the decisive clash, he opted to leave them out and could all be put back into the starting lineup at The Estadio da Luz.

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