Player: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Portugal's 2014 FIFA World Cup play-off against Sweden had been billed as a battle between the nations' star strikers – and Cristiano Ronaldo got the better of Zlatan Ibrahimović as the pair scored all six goals in the 4-2 aggregate win for Paulo Bento's men. The Real Madrid CF forward showed a ruthless streak a kilometre wide in Solna on Tuesday, having already divided the sides four days earlier in Lisbon. The 28-year-old notched the opener at the Friends Arena before Ibrahimović netted twice to level the aggregate scores at 2-2, then hit two more on the break to complete another noteworthy hat-trick in a career littered with them. "I just did my job," he shrugged, having taken his national-team tally to 47 – level with Portuguese record holder Pauleta.
Les Bleus were understandably shaken after losing the first leg of their play-off against Ukraine 2-0 in Kyiv. For winger Franck Ribéry, it was his first defeat in 54 games in all competitions, and with no country having ever qualified after trailing by two goals in a World Cup play-off, things looked grim. France, however, have style as well as a taste for drama. Liverpool FC defender Mamadou Sakho registered his first two international goals either side of a Karim Benzema effort to book his team's place in Brazil. "When all of France pulls in the same direction, results come," Sakho gushed afterwards. "The atmosphere in the dressing room, what can you say? It's beautiful."
"My first reaction was to thank God, dedicate this qualification to the Greek people and call my mother, who was never in any doubt that we would go through."
Mother knows best for Greece coach Fernando Santos following Tuesday's 1-1 play-off second-leg draw in Romania that sent his side to the World Cup.
"Had we not gone through, this might have been my last international," said Greece captain Giorgos Karagounis after his team's success, but while the 36-year-old midfielder will have a chance to add to his 132 caps, Iceland's Eidur Gudjohnsen had to concede that – at 35 – his 77th cap would be his last. The striker could not fire his nation to their first World Cup as Tuesday's 2-0 defeat in Croatia ended their play-off bid. "After we have recovered we must get together and try to celebrate what we achieved in the group and the milestone we set," he said, before bursting into tears as he confirmed "this was my last match".
Goal: Ryan Fenech (Malta)
Malta's 3-2 friendly win against the Faroe Islands on Tuesday provided proof that smaller sides can still score big goals, with Ryan Fenech netting an absolute screamer from 30 metres. "I really did not realise I was that far out," the 27-year-old winger told UEFA.com. "I took my chance and let fly and I was relieved to see it land beautifully where it was supposed to – in the back of the net."
Double treble: Arkadiusz Milik (Poland Under-21)
Bayer 04 Leverkusen forward Milik had an extraordinary five days as he registered hat-tricks in successive UEFA European Under-21 Championship games – Poland's 5-1 win in Malta on Friday, followed by Tuesday's 3-1 home victory over Greece. The 19-year-old showed impressive nonchalance after his second Group 7 treble. "The team is the hero – I only made a small contribution to this victory," he noted. "I scored my first ever hat-trick in Malta and now I have done it again. Every goal made me happy because it was good for the team." Milik is now the competition's leading marksman with nine goals in six qualifiers. "I am doing even better than Álvaro Morata from Real Madrid," Milik, currently on loan at FC Augsburg, said.
Family reunion: The Babunskis (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia)
The last set of U21 fixtures brought a remarkable turn of events, with FYROM coach Boban Babunski fielding both his sons: FC Barcelona trainee David Babunski and his Real Madrid CF counterpart Dorian. "A few years ago, football was the reason we were apart as a family, but now it's the reason we're together again and that's made us very happy," 19-year-old midfielder David told UEFA.com after the 1-0 Group 8 success against Azerbaijan in Skopje last Friday. "Growing up, it was always my dream to play together with my brother for our country, and with our father coaching us," said striker Dorian, two years younger than David at 17. "I'm delighted the dream became a reality."
First time: Gibraltar
A 0-0 stalemate with Slovakia marked Gibraltar's entry into senior international football, with Tuesday's result from Portugal's Estádio Algarve greeted by huge celebrations in UEFA's newest member country. Adam Priestly came closest to scoring the Gibraltarians' first national-team goal, but a draw against the 2010 World Cup finalists was a major achievement regardless. "This is a proud result for Gibraltar and the players gave me so much more than 100%," coach Allen Bula told UEFA.com. "It was a dream to play our first international friendly and now we have another dream come true thanks to this great result."
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