Ronaldo Hat-Trick Fires Portugal To World Cup

by
Reuters
A sublime second-half hat-trick by Cristiano Ronaldo took Portugal to the World Cup finals with a 4-2 aggregate victory in their World Cup playoff against Sweden on Tuesday.

Ronaldo Hat-Trick Fires Portugal To World Cup

A sublime second-half hat-trick by Cristiano Ronaldo took Portugal to the World Cup finals with a 4-2 aggregate victory in their World Cup playoff against Sweden on Tuesday.

In a tie billed as a monumental battle between the Portuguese captain and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Swede scored twice but the imperious Ronaldo lifted his side to a 3-2 win in the second leg.

With Portugal leading 1-0 from the first leg in Lisbon, the Swedes dominated first-half possession but created little before Ronaldo tore them apart in the second half, getting in behind the defence three times to score.

Ibrahimovic gave his side hope at 1-0 down when he levelled from a corner and then blasted home a free kick, but two goals in three minutes from Ronaldo put the game out of reach and ended Swedish hopes of reaching the finals in Brazil.

The defeat was a particularly bitter one for the 32-year-old Ibrahimovic, who looks like ending his career without a World Cup finals goal to his name.

Ronaldo started slowly, wasting several good opportunities in the first half, but when he found his range in the second his finishing at pace was lethal.

Sebastian Larsson missed a great opportunity for Sweden, firing at the goalkeeper from point-blank range, and Portugal went straight up the other end to score.

Ronaldo latched on to a superb through-ball from Joao Moutinho five minutes after halftime to open the scoring, beating Martin Olsson to the ball and firing crisply past Isaksson.

Ibrahimovic then raised Swedish hopes with his double strike but Ronaldo was not finished.

The Real Madrid forward broke clear to bury another left-foot shot into the far corner and he rounded the keeper before firing a right-foot strike high into the net 11 minutes from time to send Portugal to Brazil.