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.
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
  • 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.

Part of complete coverage on
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is provoking huge media interest and the hungry attention of Europe's top clubs.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Last season Jose Mourinho wrote off the title of hopes of his "little horse" -- but now he has a squad primed to dethrone Manchester City.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1858 GMT (0258 HKT)
Luis Suarez will have to wait until late October to make his competitive Barcelona debut his ban for biting an opponent was partially upheld.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1649 GMT (0049 HKT)
Can Louis van Gaal cut it at Manchester United? Will Bayern conquer all in Germany? Is this PSG's year to win the Champions League?
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1012 GMT (1812 HKT)
It's been a difficult year for Barcelona on and off the pitch, and the signing of Luis Suarez has only increased the prospect of more controversy.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who scored a total of 16 goals at four World Cup finals, has announced his retirement from international football.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Cultural y Deportivo Leonesa line up in their tuxedo kit.
When celebrating an important anniversary, it's always good to look your best. At least that's theory for a Spanish football team's preseason tuxedo kit.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1103 GMT (1903 HKT)
While many top European clubs are targeting the U.S. market, French football is setting its sights on expanding into Asia -- with China playing a key role.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1229 GMT (2029 HKT)
Major League Soccer has snared another big name from England with former Chelsea star Frank Lampard committing his future to New York City FC.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1656 GMT (0056 HKT)
Europe's top clubs have booked a summer holiday to the U.S. -- but this is business not pleasure as they look to cash in on the World Cup afterglow.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Brazil's new coach Dunga won the World Cup as a player in 1994.
Former World Cup-winning captain Dunga is appointed coach of Brazil's national team for the second time, charged with restoring national pride.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1420 GMT (2220 HKT)
Colombia's World Cup star James Rodriguez continues Real Madrid's long tradition of signing "Galacticos."
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
Germany's World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm has decided to go out at the top by announcing his retirement from international football.