Portugal bowed out of the World Cup with a surprise defeat at the hands of Morocco thanks to Youssef En-Nesyri’s first-half strike at the Al Thumara Stadium.
Bruno Fernandes has reflected on Portugal’s shock exit from the World Cup after they crashed out with a 1-0 defeat to Morocco in the quarter-final on Saturday.
Youssef En-Nesyri’s 42nd minute header proved to be the difference between the two sides as Morocco created more history to become the first African side to reach the semi-final of a World Cup. It is a result that has provided shockwaves around the world with Morocco to face either France or England in the last-16.
However, Portugal will be mightily frustrated after beating Switzerland 6-1 in the previous round, and they were firm favourites heading into the game. But Fernando Santos’ side lacked guile and quality in the final third to break down a resolute Morocco side as they drew a blank for the first time in six matches..
After the game, Fernandes admitted he and his Portugal teammates must reflect on their exit from the competition but reiterated his passion for his country despite defeat. The midfielder started in four of Portugal’s five matches at the World Cup – with the 2-1 defeat against South Korea the only time he has began on the bench.
“You don’t have to raise or lower your head. Now it’s time to reflect, each one, on what the World Cup was like, go home, be with the families, because we’ve been away for a long time, even to recover mentally it’s important.
“This squad will be back and will give a great response: everyone here represents the squad with maximum commitment and commitment. We always want to represent our country in the best way.”
He added: “What was missing? It is very difficult to express in words. It is a difficult and sad time for us. We had ambition and quality for more. There’s always something else we can leave on the field. But, I repeat, the delivery and commitment was total. The big difference was that we couldn’t score goals, and they knew how to defend very well.”
Cristiano Ronaldo was dropped once again for the game with Goncalo Ramos given the nod up front after scoring a hat-trick against Switzerland. However, with 50 minutes on the clock, Santos decided to give Ronaldo a lengthy run out in an attempt to get back into the game.
But the former Manchester United failed to have the desired impact and had just one effort on goal – that coming in the final 10 minutes as Yassine Bounou made a smart save. Fernandes spoke about his international teammate and claimed that Ronaldo can’t be blamed for Portugal’s exit from the World Cup.
He said: “Maybe because he is who he is, people click more often on his news, to see what he is about. It was not for any of this that the Selection did not go further. We simply couldn’t beat Morocco.