Fantastic France; Ronaldo stars

A review of Tuesday night's World Cup play-off action in Europe as France, Portugal, Croatia and Greece reach the finals.

Last Updated: 19/11/13 at 22:30 Post Comment

France celebrate reaching the World Cup finals.

France celebrate reaching the World Cup finals.

France progressed to the World Cup finals amid more play-off controversy as they beat Ukraine 3-0 to complete a stunning comeback in Paris.

Didier Deschamps' side were in grave danger of missing out on making the trip to Brazil next summer after losing the first leg in Kiev 2-0 last week.

But the deficit was erased inside the opening half, albeit after a debatable Karim Benzema equaliser.

There was nothing wrong with Mamadou Sakho's opener but when Benzema struck with 33 minutes played he did so from what appeared a clear offside position.

France memorably progressed to the finals in South Africa four years ago after a Thierry Henry handball against the Republic of Ireland and were thankful for another slice of luck before Ukraine's night got worse after the break.

Yevhen Khacheridi was sent off for a second caution within minutes of the re-start, and while the visitors battled on gamely, Oleg Gusev's own goal on 74 minutes completed Les Bleus' comeback.

Cristiano Ronaldo won his battle with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and ensured Portugal qualified as he scored a hat-trick in a 3-2 win in Sweden.

The Real Madrid forward fired Portugal ahead on 50 minutes, to give them a 2-0 lead in the tie.

But Ibrahimovic then threatened to take over as he headed Sweden level on the night before thumping them ahead with a free-kick that was too hot for Rui Patricio to handle.

Sweden suddenly needed just one more goal in the final 15 minutes to progress, but Ronaldo ended their hopes almost as quickly as Ibrahimovic revived them.

With 77 minutes gone he was left in too much space and crashed his shot beyond Andreas Isaksson. Two minutes later the tie was over as he rounded the goalkeeper before shooting high into the net.

Iceland's dream of becoming the smallest nation to qualify for a World Cup finals came to an end in Zagreb as they were beaten 2-0 despite Croatia playing for almost an hour with 10 men.

Mario Mandzukic sent Croatia ahead on 27 minutes, ghosting in at the back post after Ivan Persic mis-hit an Ivan Rakitic cross, only to then get sent off just before the break.

The Bayern Munich striker left his leg in a dangerous position as he battled for the ball and when contact was made with Johann Gudmundsson he saw red.

It didn't matter as skipper Darijo Srna's shot two minutes after the break caught out Hannes Halldorsson and from there Iceland had no answer.

Greece finished off the job they started in Athens last week as a 1-1 draw with Romania sent them safely through.

Holding a 3-1 advantage from the opening leg, Fernando Santos' men arrived in Bucharest looking to wrap up the tie and they all but achieved that with a first-half strike from Konstantinos Mitroglou.

A bizarre own goal from Vasileios Torosidis early in the second half pulled Romania level on the night, but there was to be no dramatic comeback.


New Sky Bet customers: Claim free £5 bet every week


Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

W

inners: All of us watching the latest installment of The Daley Blind Hour. This weeks episode was called Sun Kissed In Merseyside, and although it was a bit of a downer, he was splendid to look at.

tk421
Has Di Maria's Spell In England Turned Sour?

I

think Liverpool should start trying alternative therapy now, given that Sturridge's hips and knees are apparently unfathomable to modern medicine. Voodoo, acupuncture, healing oils, rolling in the snow after a hot bath, its all got to be worth a go now.

slideways
Sturridge doubt for run-in

W

ell thats the most one sided, Mourinho ass kissing, Terry loving conlcusions I have ever read. Does Daniel Storey have a tattoo of the Chelsea crest on his calf too? What a plonker.

goonergo
16 Conclusions: Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea

Footer 365

Jose Mourinho: Cesc Fabregas not in PFA team 'strange'

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho says it is 'strange' that the PFA Team of the Year has no place for Cesc Fabregas.

Chelsea captain John Terry: We are definitely not boring

Chelsea captain John Terry claims that nobody will remember their defensive performances in the title run-in.

Javier Hernandez is hard to drop on current form, says Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti admits Javier Hernandez's starting position is non-negotiable given his current form.

Mail Box

Mail From Fan Who Craves Relegation...

In this case it's a Sunderland fan who just wants to see a clear-out. We also have mails about Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton. It's long and it's sexy...

Is This What Arsenal Fans Feel Like?

'It's all well with the short and pretty passes, but we did absolute f*** all up front,' writes one Man United fan. We have mails on Chelsea, Brendan Rodgers and...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company