World Cup: Portugal, France, Greece and Croatia Make It To Brazil After Night Of Genius And Drama (Photos)

Alan Duffy

19th, November 2013


By Alan Duffy

Sweden Portugal Wcup Soccer

Cristiano Ronaldo fired Portugal to Brazil (and most likely himself to a Ballon D’or) courtesy of a magnificent hat-trick against Sweden in Stockholm.

All five goals came in the second half, with the great Zlatan Ibrahimovic bagged a brace himself. But ultimately it was his fellow megastar Ronaldo who would steal the show and give Portugal a deserved 4-2 aggregate win. With Zlatan now 32 we may never get to see him again in World Cup Finals, but for Ronaldo, the stage is set for a big summer in Brazil.

In Paris, Didier Deschamps’ inconsistant French produced a magnificent three-goal performance to overturn Ukraine’s first leg lead. Les Bleus’ hero of the night was, rather surprisingly, Liverpool’s Mamadou Sakho who netted a goal in either half. Karim Benzema, who started in place of Oliver Giroud, netted France’s other goal to fire his side to Brazil.

Greece, already 3-1 up from the first-leg, secured a 1-1 draw in Romania to give them a comfortable 4-2 aggregate win. Olympiakos attacker Konstantinos Mitroglou netted for the Greeks on 23 minutes and even an own-goal from Vasilios Torosidis after the break couldn’t kickstart a Romanian revival as the home side deservedly lost out on Brazil.

And finally, goals from Bayern Munich’s Mario Mandzukic and the perenially under-rated Dario Srna gave Croatia a 2-0 aggregate victory over outsiders Iceland in Zagreb. Mandzukic’s goal came in the 27th minutes and the striker was sent off before the break for a bad tackle on Johann Gudmundsson. But despite being a man up in the second-half, the visitors couldn’t break down the Croat defence with Srna’s early goal after the break giving the home side a two-goal cushion.

Photos (There’s feckin’ loads of ’em!)…

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Photos: PA