Portugal 1 Sweden 0 match report: Cristiano Ronaldo deals first blow in personal duel with Zlatan Ibrahimovic

 

Cristiano Ronaldo struck the first blow in his personal duel with Zlatan Ibrahimovic when his late flying header gave Portugal a 1-0 win over Sweden in the first leg of their World Cup qualifying playoff on Friday.

Neither of the big-name players contributed much to a feisty encounter until Ronaldo stooped to meet Miguel Veloso's pinpoint cross from the left with an intelligent header in the 82nd minute.

Until then Ronaldo had struggled against a massed Swedish defence, wasted two free kicks by firing into the wall and been booked shortly before his goal for a foul on goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson as his frustration boiled over.

Sweden had several chances in the first half before Portugal took control after the break at the Luz stadium, gaining the upper hand for Tuesday's second leg in Stockholm.

"We would have been very happy with a draw," Sweden coach Erik Hamren told TV4. "We played a good game defensively, the goal was unnecessary, we were careless with that cross."

Portugal could have gone ahead in the opening minutes when Raul Meireles put Joao Moutinho clean through only for the Monaco midfielder to shoot into the side-netting.

The Swedes then enjoyed a brief period of dominance and came close when Johan Elmander just failed to hit the target from a pinpoint cross by right back Mikael Lustig.

"We created a great early chance and Sweden hit back. But in the second half it was one way for us," Portugal coach Paulo Bento told reporters.

"It was an important step to reach the World Cup but not yet decisive."

Ibrahimovic was mostly left alone up front, making him easy prey for the Portuguese defence.

His only real flash of inspiration was a dummy that created a clear shooting chance for Sebastian Larsson, whose effort was turned away by Rui Patricio.

"We managed to counter Sweden's direct football. I don't think their football will change much in their home leg, maybe perhaps press a bit higher," Bento said.

Portugal were also hugely relieved to see Kallstrom blast a close-range free kick narrowly wide.

The hosts then won a flurry of corners which produced that apart from a Ronaldo header over the bar.

Sweden fielded a very experienced side, with more than half of their starters in their thirties, many of them with the last chance to play a World Cup.

Portugal coach Paulo Bento, in turn, stuck to his routine line-up, with Veloso and Moutinho the midfield combatants while Nani and Helder Postiga completed the attacking trio alongside Ronaldo.

Portugal dominated the second half although they did not create many clear cut chances until Ronaldo's goal. That brought them to life and Ronaldo headed against the bar in the dying minutes.

"It was an important goal that gave us the win," Ronaldo, who scored his 44th goal for the national team, told Portuguese radio.

"We could have scored one or two more but the advantage raises our spirits for the away match. But it's not done yet, it remains 50/50 chances for both teams, in my opinion."

Portugal have qualified for the past seven international tournaments in succession, the preceding two via the playoffs.

Reuters

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments