WORLD CUP PLAYOFF: Rampant Ronaldo ravages Swedish dreams

A devastating second-half performance from Cristiano Ronaldo has crushed Sweden’s 2014 World Cup hopes.

A devastating second-half performance from Cristiano Ronaldo has crushed Sweden’s 2014 World Cup hopes.

The Real Madrid star netted a hat-trick as Portugal saw off a Zlatan Ibrahimovic-fuelled comeback at the Friends Arena in Solna on Tuesday night to win 3-2 on the night and 4-2 on aggregate.

Portugal led 1-0 after Ronaldo’s sole goal in the first leg in Lisbon on Friday and that became a two-goal buffer early in the second half when the former Manchester United ace ran onto a superb through ball from Joao Moutinho before finishing with aplomb on his left foot past Andreas Isaksson.

That quietened the Swedish fans but they were soon on their feet as national team hero Ibrahimovic rose above Bruno Alves to powerfully nod home Kim Kallstrom’s pinpoint corner in the 68th minute.

The Paris Saint-Germain superstar then pulled the Swedes right back into qualifying contention when he rifled home a low free-kick form just outside the area less than five minutes later.

Enter Ronaldo, who singlehandedly led Portugal to the 2014 World Cup finals, with a 77th-minute steadier – again on his left foot – before breaking Sweden’s hearts with a third goal in the 79th minute when slamming into the roof of the net from close range.

2014 World Cup UEFA playoff

Sweden: 2 (Zlatan Ibrahimovic 68’/72’)
Portugal: 3 (Cristiano Ronaldo 50’/77’/79’) *Portugal wins 4-2 on aggregate
Friends Arena, Solna, Sweden – 49,766

 
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