Portugal have qualified for the 2023 Rugby World Cup with last kick of the game as they drew 16-16 with the USA in the qualifying tournament in Dubai.
The draw means that Portugal ahead of 2031 hosts the USA on points difference in a dramatic finish to the game, with Samuel Marques penalty in the last kick of the game to create huge Portugal celebrations.
It looked as though it would be USA who would edge a close contest 16-13 in the final moments of the game, but Marques long range penalty sparked incredible and historic scenes as they qualified for their first World Cup since 2007.
🚨 LE PORTUGAL EST DE RETOUR EN COUPE DU MONDE !
Sur une pénalité cruciale de Samuel Marques, le Portugal arrache le nul 16-16 contre lez USA et disputera leur second Mondial de son histoire, après 2007 !
Ils seront dans la poule C (🏴🇦🇺🇫🇯🇬🇪).#USAvPOR #RWC2023 pic.twitter.com/Dki8Kcsvm1
— Gauthier Baudin (@GauthierBaudin) November 18, 2022
The result means Portugal will join Wales, Fiji, Australia and Georgia in Pool C of the competition.
For the USA, it’s a huge shock and setback for them, who have failed to qualify for their first World Cup since 1995. It will also be the first time that their will not be a North American team at the tournament, worrying times for both the USA and Canada.
For Portugal, it will be a huge moment for tier two and three nations in European rugby, as they attempt to close the gap on the heavyweights of European rugby.
Speaking after the game, Portugal captain Tomás Appleton spoke on the historic significance of the achievement.
“It’s hard to explain, it’s one of the best feelings in the world. For the rugby community this is amazing, we’ve been missing from the Rugby World Cup for quite some time and we need a new generation to inspire the kids.”
Portugal Create History
In a game where former Connacht fly-half AJ Macginty was uncharacteristically off-form for the USA, he opened the scoring through a third minute penalty. Portugal hit back through a converted try from Raffaele Stori.
Macginty's two further penalties in the first half gave the USA a 9-7 lead, before Marques penalty just before half-time had Portugal 10-9 up at the interval.
The USA had led 16-13 through a try from Kaprli Pifeleti, but Marques late penalty secured the draw they needed to qualify for next year's World Cup.
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) November 18, 2022