Ronaldo hat-trick takes Portugal past Sweden

Sweden 2-3 Portugal (agg: 2-4) Zlatan Ibrahimović scored twice in five second-half minutes to give Sweden hope but Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick took Portugal through.

Cristiano Ronaldo continued his prolific form with all three goals against Sweden
Cristiano Ronaldo continued his prolific form with all three goals against Sweden ©AFP/Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo once again proved the difference between Portugal and Sweden in the second leg of their FIFA World Cup play-off.

Portugal had edged the first instalment on Friday thanks to a solitary goal from the Real Madrid CF forward, who earned them a 2-0 aggregate advantage with the opener in Solna. However, two goals from Sweden talisman Zlatan Ibrahimović gave hope to the hosts, until Ronaldo added two more of his own to complete a memorable hat-trick and secure Paulo Bento's side a place at next summer's finals in Brazil.

A cautious start to the game was not indicative of what was to come. As demanded by coach Erik Hamrén, Sweden had far more possession than in Lisbon, yet still they rarely threatened. While Ibrahimović was operating from deeper than normal, Ronaldo was as menacing as ever, chancing his arm on three occasions in the opening period.

Sweden, though, had a better opportunity after the interval, Sebastian Larsson forcing Rui Patrício into a point-blank save. However, Portugal then unleashed a lethal counterattack which ended in João Moutinho teeing up Ronaldo. Sweden now needed three to go to Brazil. Ibrahimović got two of them in five second-half minutes, heading in from a corner and drilling in low from a free-kick, to get the Friends Arena on its feet.

However, just as Sweden believed again, Ronaldo turned it on once more. He produced another lightning break and another stylish finish but he was not done there, running onto another Moutinho pass and firing past Andreas Isaksson to rubber-stamp his team's progress.