Portugal boss reveals referee’s apology after denying Cristiano Ronaldo late winner, says “the referee apologized to me and told me he was embarrassed”

Fernando Santos has revealed that referee Dutchman Danny Makelie admitted he was embarrassed by the decision to deny Portugal a late winner through Cristiano Ronaldo’s late strike against Serbia.

The Portugal captain thought he’d won the World Cup qualifier, poised at 2-2, when he nicked in front of goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic and struck home, with defender Stefan Mitrovic stretching to clear off the line.

However, despite replays showing the ball appearing to clearly cross the line, with VAR not in play the officials failed to award the goal, leaving Ronaldo and his manager absolutely furious at the full-time whistle.

“The referee apologised to me in the booth and told me he was embarrassed. I was in the dressing room with him and apologised to me,” Santos said.

“He had told me on the pitch that he was going to see the images and that if it was the case he was calling me to apologise – and so it was.

“It is the second time in a qualifying phase that they apologise to me after the game. I told him on the pitch that there was no VAR or goal line – one of the things he told me was that the goal line was important – but I told him that the ball was half a metre inside the goal.

“There was no obstacle between the goalkeeper and the goal line. [it is a] problem because we drew. We have to rethink. The referees are human and make mistakes, but that’s why there is the VAR and the goal line technology to avoid this.”