Ronaldo, Portugal lock down World Cup spot


The breakthrough eventually came via an own-goal by the former Arsenal defender Johan Djourou just before halftime, and a goal from striker Andre Silva early in the second half was enough to wrap the game up for Portugal, who have won nine straight matches following their opening 2-0 loss to the Swiss a year ago.

Pop superstar Madonna was among the home supporters looking for Cristiano Ronaldo to inspire a famous victory but it was playmaker Bernardo Silva who truly got Portugal into the groove.

The match started with Vladimir Petkovic lining up his men in an attacking 4-3-3 formation, however, there was no real quality from either side in the opening exchanges and entertainment was at a premium.

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The two countries finished level on 19 points, behind Group A winners France, but Sweden finished second on goal difference. "I believed in the players and fortunately they gave me this present".

And in the 57th minute Portugal cemented their place in Russian Federation when Bernardo Silva sent a pass through the six-yard box that Andre Silva controlled before putting the ball into the net.

Ronaldo should have scored his 16th goal of the qualifying campaign when he was sent clear in the 78th minute but he over-elaborated as he tried to get around Yann Sommer and allowed the goalkeeper to claim the ball but the points were already safe.

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It had seemed all match that the referee was too incompetent to make the correct calls or he was afraid to make them on a night which meant so much to both teams.

Holland, who also failed to qualify for the last European Championships, had to beat Sweden by seven goals to finish behind France in the runners-up spot but they could only manage a 2-0 win against the Swedes, who will head to the play-offs.

First-leg games are played November 9-11.

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Vladimir Petkovic's team will be among the seeded countries for the play-off draw on October 17 and could face Sweden, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland or Greece for a place at Russian Federation 2018.