Tuesday, 19 November 2013

World Cup - Ronaldo hits hat-trick to send Portugal through


World Cup qualification second leg play-off - Sweden 2 (Ibrahimovic 68, 73) Portugal 3 (Ronaldo 50, 77 & 79)

Eurosport - Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring during the FIFA 2014 World Cup playoff football match Sweden vs Portugal at the Friends Arena in Solna near Stockholm on November 19
Cristiano Ronaldo carried Portugal to the World Cup by scoring a remarkable hat-trick in an extraordinary 3-2 win over Sweden.
Ronaldo had given Portugal the lead, only for Zlatan Ibrahimovic to score two and give Sweden some hope, but the Real Madrid forward then scored twice to seal a 4-2 aggregate victory.
The opening 30 minutes were very cagey, with Portugal seemingly happy to sit on their lead and slow play down at the back.
Sweden started full of intent, trying to hurry their opponents into making a mistake, but could barely keep possession for a significant period of time, and Ibrahimovic had to drop further and further back to find the ball.
Portugal grew into the game in the closing stages of the half, with Cristiano Ronaldo having three good chances in the space of ten minutes, but couldn't convert any of them.
However, five minutes after the break he opened the scoring, latching onto a through-ball by Joao Moutinho, and he hammered the ball past Andreas Isaksson. That put Portugal 2-0 up on aggregate with an away goal, leaving Sweden needing three goals to progress.
And they almost did it, too. Ibrahimovic gave them hope with a header from a Kim Kallstrom corner, then put them within touching distance of qualification after hammering home a low free-kick from the edge of the area.
Those hopes were dashed by Ronaldo ten minutes later, however. He again ran onto a brilliant through-ball by Almeida, and shot low past Isaksson with his left foot.
The Real Madrid forward then put the tie beyond all doubt and completed an extraordinary hat-trick, once again going clean through on goal, taking it just to the left of Isaksson before finishing superbly, despite the presence of two defenders on the line.
Ronaldo will be at the World Cup, carrying the Portugal team on his back as he goes.

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