Portugal got a late goal for a 1-0 win in the first leg of their World Cup playoff match at home. They had hoped for a more comfortable lead going to Sweden but weren’t able to get more goals. In a series headlined by two superstars known for their goal scoring abilities, defense was on display.
Ronaldo got some early chance but missed it. He couldn’t put a header from a corner on goal. He made a great run towards the end of the first half to beat the back line and get to the through ball. He crossed it but his teammate couldn’t finish the play. Ronaldo on that run showed an extra gear. He was running neck and neck with his opponent and then turned on another gear and pulled away.
Sweden got a quality chance in the 40th minute but didn’t find the back of the net.
At the start of the second half there was an interesting back and forth. Portugal was pressing and got a shot off but were called off sides. About a minute or so later, Sweden was knocking on the door and got off a shot from the edge of the six-yard box but the keeper made a big save.
Moments after that, Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo got a big run. He was running from the near side on a diagonal to the far side corner, he got a through ball and was pulling away from his defender. He was lined up with the left post when he shot and he went to the right side post, beating the keeper to give Portugal a 1-0 lead. That also gave them a 2-0 lead on the aggregate.
That meant that Sweden would need three goals to advance to the World Cup in the final 40 minutes. Two would allow Portugal to advance because of the away goal.
In the 68th minute, Zlatan Ibrahimovic finally got a goal from a header on a set piece. It wasn’t the prettiest goal but they all count the same. Moments later Sweden was on the attack again when a player went down in the box and was calling for a penalty kick, but Howard Webb instead gave the Swede a yellow card for diving. The highlight makes it look like he got the call right.
Moments after that Swede was attacking again when they were fouled on the edge of the box. This time, Howard Webb awarded Sweden the free kick, which they deserved this time. The spot was along the right post, maybe a little outside. Ibrahimovic gets a good strike on it and puts the ball in goal inside the left post and now all of the sudden the aggregate is tied at 2-2.
Sweden would still need a goal to win, a 2-1 win would still allow Portugal to advance because of the away goal.
Cristiano Ronaldo put a stake in their hopes minutes later. On a counter attack Ronaldo was running on the far side of the pitch alone, he got another through ball that allowed him to get the ball and run in on goal alone. He scored with a goal across to to the far post. That gave Portugal a 2-2 tie, but 3-2 lead in the aggregate.
A couple of minutes later Ronaldo got into the box alone with the ball again. He made some moves towards the right side of the box, trying to dribble around the keeper who came off his line, Ronaldo then puts the ball top shelf and in off the cross-bar. That gave Portugal a 3-2 lead in the game and a 4-2 aggregate lead. Ronaldo got a couple more quality shots that had chances but slightly missed the mark.
That advances Portugal to the World Cup, and unfortunately a very worth Sweden team will sit it out at home.
[h/t] The Big Lead for GIFs