LISBON - Portugal fans were overcome with sadness and frustration on Saturday after their fancied team crashed out of the World Cup to Morocco, a lower-ranked side that had already ousted Spain.
Supporters, many wearing scarves in the green and red colors of the Portuguese flag as they watched the match in Lisbon's bars and restaurants, had hoped to see their country reach the semi-finals. For them, the result was deeply frustrating.
Portugal, fresh from their knockout demolition of Switzerland, were beaten by Morocco 1-0. The country's all-time top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo was again out of the starting line-up after being benched for the last-16 tie against Switzerland.
Ronaldo, 37, left Saturday's game in tears. The country's football federation had earlier had to publicly deny reports that the skipper had threatened to leave during the tournament.
Asked if the result could have been different if Ronaldo had played from the beginning of the game, Portuguese fan Filipa Ramires said "it wouldn't have mattered".
"He's the best, Ronaldo is always the best," she said at Time Out Market, a venue with 26 restaurants and 7 bars in downtown Lisbon.
"It was a really difficult match, we expected it to be a difficult match, and we kept our hope up right until the last minute, but unfortunately it was in vain," said Rebeca Penne, a Lisbon fan.
Her mother, Samira Penne, said Ronaldo "deserved to reach the final".
Prime Minister Antonio Costa immediately comforted the team, tweeting: "We dreamed together, now we suffer together".
Portugal player Bernardo Silva said after the match: "There is frustration, sadness... we believed it was possible to go further (in the tournament), but unfortunately it was not possible, we apologize to all Portuguese."
Morocco, the first ever African country to reach the semi-finals thanks to a towering headed goal from Youssef En-Nesyri, will play the winner of France and England who meet later on Saturday.
"We are happy on behalf of the whole of Africa, because Morocco was representing Africa," said Moroccan tourist Amin Abdul, in Lisbon.
(By Sergio Goncalves and Marco Trujillo; Editing by Jan Harvey)