THE referee who denied Cristiano Ronaldo's injury-time goal against Serbia admitted he was 'embarrassed' and 'apologised' for his blunder.
Ronaldo, 36, was left furious with Danny Makkelie and his Dutch team of officials when he failed to allow the clear winner.
The Juventus forward tucked home under the goalkeeper and the ball clearly rolled over the line before Serb skipper Stefan Mitrovic hooked it away – and then saved the rebound.
But with no goal-line technology, the goal did not stand.
Ronaldo let rip at the assistant who did not flag – and was duly booked – but Portugal were left to settle for a 2-2 draw in their World Cup qualifier in Belgrade.
And Fernando Santos, manager of the reigning European champs, revealed Makkelie recognised his costly gaffe.
He told RTP: "We scored a goal that was not given when the ball went in. In a match of this level, that isn't possible.
"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.
"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.
"I told him on the pitch that there was no VAR or goal-line technology – 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.
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"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."
With the full-time whistle coming seconds later, Ronaldo ripped off his armband and launched it to the floor then stormed down the tunnel.
The skipper posted a picture of the Portuguese team, for whom Diogo Jota scored twice, on Instagram with the caption: "Being captain of the Portugal team is one of the greatest privileges of my life.
"I always give and will give everything for my country, that will never change.
"But there are difficult times to deal with, especially when we feel that an entire nation is being harmed.
"Lift your head and face the next challenge now! Strength, Portugal."
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