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

eak points? Play like Villa should work easily enough.

plughead80
Ludogorets target 'weaknesses'

T

hose tight polo shirts he's been wearing on the touchline this season make him look like a lady on a golfing holiday.

walter white
Football Managers On TV: Neil Warnock

A

s a great man once said: Nothing ever changes by staying the same.

walter white
Just Put Him Out Of His Misery...

Footer 365

Daley Blind backs Louis van Gaal's brutally honest approach at Manchester United

Daley Blind says Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal's brutally honest manner is good for team-building.

Premier League: West Ham come from behind twice at Hull City to earn 2-2 draw

West Ham twice came from behind to earn a battling 2-2 draw with Hull City in an entertaining clash at the KC Stadium.

Champions League: 'Arsenal have made some good signings', says Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp

Jurgen Klopp believes Arsenal made a number of strong summer signings and expects them to be tough opponents on Tuesday.

Mail Box

Woke Up This Morning Feeling Fine...

Man United fans are a more than a tad excited, Liverpool fans are a little depressed and we have mails on Mesut Ozil, Newcastle, Aston Villa and lots more...

Fixing The Mess At Old Trafford

Plenty of conclusions on United's win over QPR and their missing link(s), more Ozil frustration, how Liverpool are like lasagne, as well as a word on Diego Costa's temperament...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property