Portugal’s Brazil 2014 campaign ended on Thursday afternoon with a familiar sight, as injured Beto left the pitch at the Estadio Mane Garrincha in tears, reviving memories of fellow keeper Eduardo’s sorrowful reaction to the team’s exit at South Africa 2010. Yet though downcast at their untimely elimination from the competition, the Portuguese at least have the consolation of knowing that they did everything in their power to work a miracle and squeeze into the knockout phase.
They faced an almost impossible mission, needing to beat Ghana by a handsome margin and hope that Germany could see off USA in the other game in Group G. And though the Germans did their bit and A Selecção das Quinas did manage to beat the Africans, they failed to rack up the goals they needed to clinch second place, a legacy of their heavy opening defeat to Die Mannschaft.
Paulo Bento’s men cannot be accused of not giving their all, creating numerous chances but taking only two of them as they secured a narrow but ultimately fruitless 2-1 win.
The match ended with the surprising sight of Bento using up his last substitution to bring Eduardo on for the stricken Beto with just a minute remaining. A starter in his side’s last two group games, Beto could not conceal his sadness at how his and Portugal’s afternoon turned out, bursting into tears when he reached the bench.
Describing his feelings afterwards, he said: “I landed right on a bone in making a save and it really hurt. I was desperate to carry on and that’s what I was trying to tell the bench. Sometimes you’re just not conscious of the injuries you pick up, but looking at it now in the cold light of day, the coach did the right thing in bringing me off. I could have made life hard for the team. It still feels sore even now, so obviously it was impossible for me to carry on.
“I was crying about everything really. I wanted to carry on. I wanted to help. That’s the way I am,” added the Sevilla man, who was replaced by his country’s first-choice keeper from four years ago.
Eduardo knew very well how his team-mate was feeling, having sank to the ground in tears following Portugal’s Round-of-16 exit to Spain in South Africa.
“I can really understand what was going through Beto’s mind,” he said. “No one likes being substituted, especially in a situation like that, just a few minutes from the end of the World Cup for us.”
Looking to the future, Eduardo told FIFA.com: “We have to take this on the chin. We spoke about our objective and there’s nothing we can do about it now. Obviously we’re sad and disappointed about it, but carrying on crying about it isn’t going to change anything. We’ve got a good group of players. The only thing is, we’re not in the Round of 16 because of that opening game against Germany.”
Echoing the views of the rest of the team, winger Nani said: “I hope the people back home aren’t too disappointed. We gave everything we had to give and I think we did the jersey proud. That’s football. We have to lift ourselves now and think about the competitions coming up."