Low-flying Ronaldo deals first blow against Ibrahimovic in playoff, France in danger
LONDON - Reuters
Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo greet each other at the endof the game at the Luz stadium in Lisbon, Nov. 15. AP photoFrance's hopes of reaching the World Cup finals are hanging by a thread after a 2-0 first-leg loss to Ukraine in their playoff on Nov. 15 while Cristiano Ronaldo's late winner gave Portugal the edge against Sweden.
Ronaldo overshadowed Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic in a match billed as a clash between two of Europe's hottest strikers, pouncing late on a tense night in Lisbon.
The Real Madrid forward put his head where it hurts after 82 minutes to meet a low cross and give Portugal a 1-0 lead and a slender advantage in the race for a ticket to Brazil next year.
In kiev, second-half goals by Ukraine's Roman Zozulia and Andriy Yarmolenko plus a red card for France defender Laurent Koscielny made it a woeful night for the lacklustre visitors who have it all to do in the second leg to be disputed in Paris on Nov. 19.
Ten-men Iceland hang to save the draw
Ten-man Iceland's dream of reaching their first major tournament finals lives on after a 0-0 home draw with Croatia in Reykjavic while Greece are well-placed to qualify for the 2014 football carnival after a 3-1 win over visiting Romania.
In the playoff's early kickoff, Iceland finished with 10 men after Olafur Skulason was shown a straight red card five minutes into the second half but they hung on stubbornly.
Kostas Mitroglou struck twice for Greece in Athens with Dimitris Salpingidis also on target against the Romanians who had levelled through Bogdan Stancu in the 19th minute.
Earlier, Uruguay virtually assured a place at the 2014 World Cup finals after Edinson Cavani led the twice champions to a 5-0 away rout of Jordan in the first leg of their qualifying playoff.
The Paris St Germain striker scored a brilliant free kick and had a hand in two other goals as the South Americans' firepower proved too much for their Asian opponents, ranked 64 places behind them in 70th by FIFA.