Bruno Fernandes acknowledged Morocco as deserving World Cup semi-finalists after seeing Portugal’s campaign cut short by the Atlas Lions in Saturday’s quarter-final.
Youssef En-Nesyri headed home the game’s only goal as Morocco caused another upset at Al Thumama Stadium, becoming the first African side to reach the final four in tournament history.
The defeat provoked a furious reaction from some Portugal players, with Pepe describing the appointment of Argentinian referee Facundo Tello as “unacceptable” after he opted against awarding a penalty when Fernandes went down under a challenge from Achraf Hakimi.
The playmaker echoed Pepe’s thoughts in the immediate aftermath of the loss, saying the officials had “tilted the field” against Fernando Santos’ men.
However, the Manchester United man struck a different tone when he took to social media on Sunday, praising Morocco’s display and outlining his pride in Portugal’s efforts.
“It’s difficult to express in a few words everything we felt yesterday after the game ended,” he wrote on Twitter. “Our dream fell apart when we did everything to make it end differently.
É difícil expressar em algumas palavras tudo o que sentimos ontem assim que terminou o jogo. O nosso sonho caiu por terra quando de tudo fizemos para que terminasse de maneira diferente.
— Bruno Fernandes (@B_Fernandes8)
“It’s sad and painful because representing our team means much more than just playing football.
“Despite the elimination, I am very proud to be Portuguese and even more proud of all those who represented our country with me in this World Cup.
“I would also like to congratulate the Moroccan team for the great game and for deservedly qualifying for the semi-finals of the World Cup.”
Portugal’s defeat to Walid Regragui’s men was their first at the quarter-final stage of a World Cup, with the Selecao having progressed from their two previous last-eight ties at the tournament.