Cristiano Ronaldo probably knew he had to score all of Portugal's goals to make sure they got the job done in Sweden in the second leg of their playoff for a spot in next summer's World Cup in Brazil after watching Hugo Almeida head an easy chance from a Ronaldo cross into the side netting. So, Ronaldo decided to out duel Sweden's talismanic goalscorer/soccer god Zlatan Ibrahimovic and score a hat-trick in the second half to put Portugal through with a 3-2 win (4-2 on aggregate) in Sweden.
Sweden's loss was no fault of Ibrahimovic, though. The Paris Saint-Germain/mega millionaire with the beautiful ponytail scored two second half goals four minutes apart (the 68th and 72nd minute) to pull Sweden within one goal of moving to next summer's World Cup before Ronaldo scored his second and third goals of the game in the 77nd and 79th minute.
This was more than likely Ibrahimovic's last go-around for a World Cup and it's too bad he ran up against a Portugal side built just a bit better around Ronaldo than what he was working with on the Swedish National Team. Guess we'll just have to wait for Andy Carroll to somehow turn into some sort of healthy, skillful player who can make magic happen before we get another towering, ponytailed center-forward to be so good at scoring amazing goals for his country like Ibrahimovic.
Joining Portugal in next year's World Cup from UEFA after winning their two-legged playoffs are low-scoring Greece (they scored 12 goals in 10 matches (!) in Group G, where they finished second because they only allowed four goals), Croatia, and a France squad that looked dead heading into today's game against Ukraine down by two goals.
Today's World Cup Qualifying Results
Romania 1 - 1 Greece (2-4 Aggregate)
Croatia 2 - 0 Iceland (2 - 0 Aggregate)
Sweden 2 - 3 Portugal (2-4 Aggregate)
France 3 - 0 Ukraine (3 - 2 Aggregate)