PORTO (Reuters) – The 50,000 tickets for Tuesday’s decisive World Cup playoff between Portugal and North Macedonia at Porto’s Dragao stadium sold out in hours with fans desperate to watch their team bid for a place at this year’s global tournament.
Big queues formed at the stadium’s box offices and a major supermarket chain around the country and many fans were left disappointed at being unable to get tickets for 10 to 15 euros.
They are now fetching up to 200 euros on the black market.
“Those are the fans that help us winning the UEFA Nations League,” Portugal forward Bernardo Silva told a news conference on Sunday.
“It is incredible the atmosphere we encounter every time we play in front of our fans, it’s overwhelming in a good way, an advantage, for sure. On Thursday they were instrumental in our win against Turkey and I totally expect it to be the same against North Macedonia.”
The tickets sold out fast even though fans had been deprived of a highly-anticipated clash between the last two European champions when Italy suffered a shock home defeat by North Macedonia.
“The biggest pressure for us does not come from the rival, it comes from our responsibility of being in Qatar this year,” Bernardo said.
“Regardless of the opponent, we have this pressure and we welcome it. It would be the same against Italy, North Macedonia or anyone else. We know we have to be in Qatar. That’s our mantra, that’s our goal.”
North Macedonia are due to arrive in Portugal on Monday.
(Reporting by Fernando Kallas, editing by Ed Osmond)