Many football fans were calling the two World Cup Qualifying legs between Portugal and Sweden the games to watch over the weekend as it was the clash of the biggest names in football at the moment, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimović. Looking at the two teams, both of which are strong sides, there are two obvious names that stood out in yesterday’s clash. They instantly captured everyone’s attention as they are both major competitors for the FIFA Ballon d’Or. Instead of calling this clash Portugal v Sweden, many figures in the footballing world were calling it Cristiano Ronaldo v Zlatan Ibrahimović, and it proved to be just that.
The first leg between the two countries happened on Friday and it proved to be quite a boring game with neither team wanting to take a real risk and go all out for a win. Yet, in the last 10 minutes, who else but Real Madrid’s leading goal scorer of the season, Cristiano Ronaldo popped up with a diving headed goal to hand Portugal a 1-0 advantage going into the second leg on Tuesday. In the first leg, Portugal did extremely well to keep the big Swede Ibrahimović quiet all game, not letting him make a dangerous run into their box once.
The second leg had arrived and before the whistle was even blown, it was clear that both sides had to go all out for the win. The first half was goalless, but a team talk from both managers set the scene for the second half for both teams; they must score goals. Yet, guess who opened the scoring for Portugal? That’s right Ronaldo, to give his team a 1-0 lead in the game and 2-0 aggregate lead. Yet, the match on the night was turned on its head as Zlatan Ibrahimović found his form and buried two quick goals, including an impressive free-kick, to level the score on aggregate.
Nevertheless, the man who is one of the favourites to win the best footballer in the world title made the headlines again with two more goals to give him a hat-trick on the night and overall a total of 4 goals. The score on aggregate was Portugal 4-2 Sweden, or Cristiano Ronaldo 4-2 Zlatan Ibrahimović considering that those were the only two players who scored the goals. Therefore, Portugal grabbed a qualification place by a play-off and will be joined by France, Greece and Croatia, who all had to rely on the play-offs to have the honour of playing in the World Cup 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Elsewhere in the international footballing community, the big friendly of the international break was England v Germany at Wembley Stadium. Yet, this game did not turn out so well for Roy Hodgson’s men as the Germans triumphed over the English by 1 goal, scored from the head of Per Mertesacker. However, England’s manager Roy Hodgson is refusing to panic as he claims this loss, in addition to the loss against Chile, will help him when he has to name the official team to take to Brazil.
Author Daniel Foster.
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