Ronaldo 4, Zlatan 2.
Before Sweden and Portugal faced off in the first leg of their two-game World Cup qualifying playoff pairing, Zlatan Ibrahimovic claimed the matchup wasn't just about himself and Cristiano Ronaldo. Two matches and six total goals later, he appears to have been mistaken. The two superstars accounted for all goals scored as Portugal booked a place in Brazil for the 2014 World Cup.
After Ronaldo notched the lone score in a cagey first leg in Lisbon, the sensational attackers combined for five goals in a thrilling conclusion in Solna on Tuesday. The Real Madrid man again netted the opener in the 50th minute, running down a long through ball from Joao Moutinho to stake Portugal to a 2-0 aggregate edge that now included a precious away goal.
Ronaldo Scores Opening Goal Of Second Leg
(GIF via @KICKTV)
With Sweden's World Cup hopes fading fast, Ibrahimovic stepped up. The quotable PSG striker who has been known to speak in the third person and score jaw-dropping goals that may have required martial arts training netted twice in a four-minute span. The first came in the 68th minute when he nodded a corner kick past Portuguese goalkeeper Rui Patricio. He scored again on a low free kick in the 72nd minute.
Ibrahimovic Gets Sweden's First Goal
Ibrahimavic Scores Free Kick Goal
(GIF via @BR_UK)
With the nearly 50,000 fans at Friends Arena urging Ibra to conjure the needed third goal, Ronaldo reinstated Portugal's control of the encounter with a two-goal flurry of his own in the ensuing seven minutes. His second and third goals of the leg also showcased the power, pace and precision that may very well win him the 2013 Ballon D'Or.
Ronaldo's Second Goal Of The Match
(GIF via @Rick_avfc)
Ronaldo Finishes Hat Trick
(GIF via @BR_UK)
With the victory nearly assured by that score, Ronaldo's teammates mobbed in a celebration befitting a berth in the World Cup finals.
(GIF via @BuzzFeedSports)
At that point, even Ibrahimovic had to applaud.