Skip to main content

Cristiano Ronaldo scores winner for Portugal against Sweden in playoff

November 15, 2013 -- Updated 2347 GMT (0747 HKT)
Cristiano Ronaldo cut a frustrated figure for most of the game against Sweden but he scored late to give Portugal a 1-0 win in the first leg of their World Cup playoff. Cristiano Ronaldo cut a frustrated figure for most of the game against Sweden but he scored late to give Portugal a 1-0 win in the first leg of their World Cup playoff.
HIDE CAPTION
A busy day in European football
A busy day in European football
A busy day in European football
A busy day in European football
A busy day in European football
A busy day in European football
A busy day in European football
A busy day in European football
A busy day in European football
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Cristiano Ronaldo's goal gave Portugal a 1-0 win over Sweden in their World Cup playoff
  • France is in danger of missing Brazil 2014 after losing 2-0 in Ukraine in another playoff
  • Iceland hung on for a 0-0 draw against Croatia despite being reduced to 10 men
  • In Friday's glamor friendly, Italy rallied for a 1-1 tie at home against Germany

(CNN) -- It was billed as a battle between Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, two of the top footballers in the world.

Ronaldo was the clear winner as he scored the lone goal for Portugal in a 1-0 victory over Sweden in the first leg of their World Cup playoff -- although some would argue he should have been shown a red card prior to the brave diving header.

Ronaldo met Miguel Veloso's sumptuous cross in the 82nd minute just as it looked like he -- and his teammates -- would have to settle for a draw in Lisbon.

The tie, however, is still in the balance after Ronaldo missed another good chance, striking the crossbar in the 86th minute with a further header.

"It was an important step to reach the World Cup but not yet decisive," Portugal manager Paulo Bento told reporters.

Earlier in the second half, Ronaldo appeared to headbutt Swedish defender Mikael Lustig. Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli opted not to punish the Real Madrid star but later showed him a yellow card for clipping Swedish keeper Andreas Isaksson.

Ibrahimovic was silenced but will be looking forward to the return leg in Sweden on Tuesday.

France faces an uphill climb to reach the 2014 World Cup, meanwhile, after losing 2-0 to Ukraine and Greece is almost in Brazil following a 3-1 win over Romania.

In the lone other European playoff, Iceland -- bidding to become the smallest nation, in population, to reach a World Cup -- hung on for a 0-0 draw against Croatia despite being reduced to 10 men.

In Lisbon, the start was far from cautious.

In the fifth minute, Raul Meireles' through ball picked out Joao Moutinho and he did well to round the keeper. But his shot from a tight angle went wide.

Sweden almost took the lead on its best opportunity of the evening. Lustig's teasing cross found its way into the box and Johan Elmander's diving flick sailed inches wide.

The Swedes built on their early superiority -- Sebastian Larsson's shot stung the palms of Rui Patricio and Kim Kallstrom's fiercely struck free kick from a yard outside the box flashed wide of Patricio's post.

Portugal, though, dominated possession in the second half and the Swedes were left to defend.

In the 50th minute, Pepe and Helder Postiga caused havoc in the Swedish box and 12 minutes later only a great block prevented a certain Portugal goal.

Sweden's resistance was finally broken courtesy of Ronaldo.

"We played a good game defensively," said Swedish boss Erik Hamren. "The goal was unnecessary. We were careless with that cross."

France stutters

France last missed a major tournament in 1994 and must mount a comeback Tuesday at the Stade de France to keep the streak alive.

Carlos Tevez: Man City pressure too much
CNN FC: Beckham retires
Alex Ferguson's recipe for success

The visitor rarely threatened and Ukraine took the lead when Roman Zozulia's effort eluded Hugo Lloris -- who returned to action after suffering a head injury while playing for club side Tottenham two weeks ago -- in the 61st minute.

Laurent Koscielny brought down the impressive Zozulia for a penalty that Andriy Yarmolenko converted in the 82nd minute and the Arsenal defender later saw red as he tangled with Oleksandr Kucher. Kucher was also dismissed.

Just last summer, France beat Ukraine on the road at Euro 2012.

"It's obviously a very bad result," France manager Didier Deschamps told French television. "We have to believe (we can advance) but Ukraine are the team in the best position to qualify."

Iceland -- population 320,000 -- has never appeared at a World Cup or European Championship but kept its composure in Reykjavik even with defender Olafur Ingi Skulason's straight red card in the 50th minute and the loss of talisman Kolbeinn Sigthorsson due to injury.

"To defend for almost 45 minutes with one less man on the pitch, I can't describe in words what these players have done," Iceland manager Lars Lagerback told Icelandic television.

Two goals from Kostas Mitroglou in Athens gave Greece a sizable advantage versus Romania, which saw red, too, when substitute Costin Lazar was sent off in stoppage time.

See boy, 8, defeat MLS team
Hargreaves: Scholes is the best
Friedel: 'Bale can be world's best'

Stalemate in Milan

In the highest-profile friendly Friday, Italy and Germany played to an ill tempered 1-1 tie in Milan.

The Germans -- defeated by Italy in the knockout stages at Euro 2012 -- dominated the opening exchanges and pressed home their advantage through defender Mats Hummels' eighth-minute goal. Ignazio Abate subsequently netted his first goal for the national team midway in the first half.

When Marco Reus and Lars Bender missed for Germany near the end, it extended the team's winless run against Italy. Not since 1995 has Germany downed the Azzurri.

The game finished on a sour note, following a clash between Germany's Toni Kroos and Italian defender Thiago Motta.

England, which benched keeper Joe Hart, fell 2-0 to Chile. Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez scored both goals for Chile as the South American side cut open the Three Lions' defense at Wembley.

England must regroup Tuesday when it faces Germany.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
The U.S. government recognizes Kosovo, as do most European states, but getting football's ruling bodies to play ball has proved harder.
June 4, 2014 -- Updated 1504 GMT (2304 HKT)
National heroes don't always belong to one country. Ask France's World Cup hero Patrick Vieira, who is rediscovering his roots.
CNN's John Sinnott on the quiet Cambridge graduate behind Liverpool's resurgent campaign.
May 30, 2014 -- Updated 1519 GMT (2319 HKT)
They are the dispossessed -- stateless, and unrecognized by football's ruling body. But these teams will still play at their own World Cup.
Louis van Gaal will be a perfect fit for Manchester United the club, business and brand, says CNN's Patrick Snell.
May 19, 2014 -- Updated 1924 GMT (0324 HKT)
There's a new force in Spanish football -- and Atletico Madrid's ascendance is sharply contrasted by the fall from power of Barcelona.
May 13, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
Rubber bullets, drones and FBI-trained riot police. Welcome to Brazil's 2014 World Cup -- will protests overshadow football's showpiece event?
May 9, 2014 -- Updated 1318 GMT (2118 HKT)
The former England international, who famously kicked a banana off the pitch 27 years ago, says education is the key to tackling racism.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
Of course not. But former Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed seems to think the removal of Michael Jackson's statue was a very "bad" idea.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1603 GMT (0003 HKT)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 01: Neymar of Barcelona celebrates his goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final first leg match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou on April 1, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
The Brazilian star's first season in Spain may have spluttered along, but the 22-year-old says he'll be firing on all cylinders at the World Cup.
April 30, 2014 -- Updated 1715 GMT (0115 HKT)
Former Soviet footballer Sergei Baltacha traveled from the land of the hammer and sickle to join The Tractor Boys and in doing so broke new ground.
April 29, 2014 -- Updated 0931 GMT (1731 HKT)
Brazil's Dani Alves arrived at Barcelona from Sevilla in 2008 and he has gone on to make over 180 appearances for the club.
Villarreal football supporter who threw a banana at Barcelona's Dani Alves during league match handed a life ban by the La Liga club.
ADVERTISEMENT