Coach Francisco Neto lamented a “huge opportunity” missed after his Portugal side came within a post of beating the United States on Tuesday and knocking the holders out of the Women’s World Cup.
Vlatko Andonovski’s USA, the pre-tournament favourites, held on for a goalless draw in Auckland that took them through to the last 16 — and ended Portugal’s hopes on their World Cup debut.
Portugal, who are ranked 21st in the world, almost snatched a sensational victory in stoppage time when Ana Capeta hit the post.
A Portugal win would have taken them through from Group E at the expense of the holders and top-ranked United States.
“I think it was our best game in the World Cup,” said Neto, who has been in charge since 2014.
“I will be honest with you, when Ana hit the ball I was thinking it would be a goal and about what Vlatko would do and what I would have to do to stop him.
“I swear, I truly believed it was going to be a goal.”
He added: “I told the girls I was very proud. Of course, they are very sad because we have huge expectation on ourselves.
“They felt that we were probably going to be the first team in the world that would eliminate the US in this stage.
“It was a huge opportunity for us but unfortunately we go home tomorrow.” Portugal reached their first Women’s World Cup only after they came through a play-off against Cameroon. They lost 1-0 to the Netherlands in their opening match at the tournament and followed that by beating Viet Nam 2-0.
They go out with four points on the board and just one goal conceded in three games. — AFP