Serbian stars to pocket mega cash bonus agreed by government for Portugal scalp

England squad for Albania and San Marino World Cup qualifiers

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Serbia’s heroes of Lisbon will reportedly receive a pot of £850,000 (€1million) for their World Cup qualification heroics, a bonus agreed by the nation’s government ahead of their showdown with Portugal. Dragan Stojkovic’s side headed into the match knowing victory would see them qualify for Qatar 2022 after Portugal slipped up in midweek against the Republic of Ireland.

They were behind after just two minutes when former Bayern Munich and Swansea man Renato Sanches fired the hosts in front.

Serbia were then level after 33 minutes when Dusan Tadic struck a crucial equaliser for his side to restore parity.

The nerves began to creep in for Portugal in the second half and you could feel the anxiety within the stadium.

With around 15 minutes to go, Serbia began to go for the jugular in search of the all-important winner.

They later found it in the dying embers when Fulham striker Aleksandr Mitrovic continues his sensational season by heading home at the back post.

Not only does the goal cement these players’ names in Serbian folklore but it’s also set to land them a lucrative financial reward.

According to Cabine Desportiva via The Mail, the squad were told on the flight to Portugal that they would net the mega bonus should they pull off the win and secure Serbia’s place at the World Cup.

Now their dreams have become a reality and Portugal have to settle for a place in the play-offs.

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Cristiano Ronaldo, who had planned to make Qatar 2022 his last World Cup, was furious after Mitrovic netted the winner, screaming and throwing arms at his team-mates.

Portugal boss Fernando Santos, who guided his side to glory at Euro 2016, has taken full responsibility for the defeat.

“We all know that we didn’t do everything we should have. But we’re going to be in Qatar,” he said.

“The players know that we always play to win, thinking offensively and not so much defensively.

“It doesn’t always come out as I wanted or as the players wanted. The responsibility is mine.”

Manchester City star Bernardo Silva, who started before being forced off with a knock, was under no illusions that this was a shocking performance as he issued an apology to the Portuguese fans.

“Terrible game from Portugal. We scored early but from then on we stopped playing,” he said.

“I can’t find a great explanation. We can do much better. We have a playoff that we will play and we will do our best to qualify.

“With a stadium with 65,000 people, we had to do much better. We apologise to the Portuguese who came here to watch a match that shouldn’t have ended this way.”

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