Romania 14 Portugal 10
Romania snatched a late victory to condemn plucky Portugal to the wooden spoon in World Cup Pool C and deny veteran hooker Joaquim Ferreira a fairytale finish to his career.
The Portuguese, who were the last team to book their place in the tournament courtesy of a repechage victory over Uruguay, produced a battling performance to lead for most of their final pool match in Toulouse.
But Romania flanker Florin Corodeanu spared his side’s blushes with a close-range try nine minutes from the end which put them in front for the first time.
It was a cruel finish for Portugal’s acting captain Ferreira, who had scored the only try of the first half to give his side the scent of a first-ever World Cup victory.
Portugal have now lost 12 of their 13 meetings with the Romanians but they were in determined mood from the start against jittery opponents and scored a deserved try through their most experienced player Ferreira, who was winning his 84th and final cap.
The 34-year-old hooker, who was leading the Portuguese in the absence of broken-hand victim Vasco Uva, was driven over in the 18th minute after Romania suffered a rare line-out loss on their own throw.
Fly-half Duarte Cardoso Pinto added the conversion to bring up a century of points for his country and extend the lead to 7-0, which was the half-time score.
Romania largely dominated the set pieces and enjoyed a territorial advantage but they ruined their good work with a host of handling errors against their tigrish opponents.
Winger Catalin Fercu produced Romania’s only clean break of the first half but he slipped on the lush surface and full-back Iulian Dumitras was off target with a long-range drop-goal.
A superb break out of defence by Portugal winger Antonio Aguilar set up the position for the try and full-back Pedro Leal almost added a second after an exciting touchline run just before the interval, while Pinto also missed with a drop-goal attempt.
The Portugal scrum was put under even more pressure in the second half and their defence was forced to work overtime to keep the rampant Romania forwards at bay.
Replacement Sorin Socol rumbled his way to the line only for television referee Kelvin Peaker to disallow the try for a knock-on but the pressure told on 62 minutes when replacement hooker Marius Tincu forced his way over for a legitimate score.
Scrum-half Valentin Calafeteanu added the conversion to tie the scores but replacement fly-half Goncalo Malheiro, Portugal’s record pointscorer who was sent on for his 36th cap after an hour, restored his side’s lead with a 40-metre penalty 12 minutes from the end.
However, the weight of possession told when the more physical Romania forwards drove once more for the line and Corodeanu got the all-important touch, with fly-half Dan Dumbrava adding the conversion before hitting an upright with a late penalty.