World Cup qualifying play-off first leg, Estadio da Luz, Lisbon - Portugal 1 (Ronaldo 82) Sweden 0.
|Eurosport - Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his goal against Sweden|
Cristiano Ronaldo headed Portugal closer to the World Cup as they beat Sweden 1-0 in their play-off first leg in Lisbon.
Ronaldo met a Miguel Veloso cross with a diving header past Andreas Isaksson with eight minutes remaining, before hitting the crossbar with a second header shortly afterwards. The Real Madrid star edged his personal battle against Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, though in truth neither player lived up to their stellar billing.
In fact Ronaldo looked more likely to be sent off than score, and he cut a frustrated figure for most of the 90 minutes. He was booked for an overzealous challenge on Isaksson and could have seen a second yellow for his furious protests.
The first half started very brightly, with Joao Moutinho rounding Andreas Isaksson before hitting the ball into the side netting. A minute later and Johan Elmander could have given Sweden the lead, poking the ball wide on the volley when a firmer connection would surely have ended in a goal.
However, after the initial spark, the first half became an exercise in effective frustration by the Swedes. Ronaldo and Nani were largely nullified as Portugal racked up numerous corners without ever effectively testing out Isaksson. In fact, it was the Swedes that went close before the break, a Kallstrom free kick inches wide and Rui Patricio forced to palm away a Larsson drive.
Sweden finally suffered some panic at the start of the second half when a Bruno Alves cross caused panic in the box before Ronaldo fired over. However, from that moment on Ibrahimovic appeared to be left deliberately isolated as Erik Hamren looked to hold on for a draw to take back home.
Portugal did have the occasional half chance thereafter, Helder Postiga heading over and Nani having a shot saved at the near post but the Swedish defenders kept them out manfully until the late goal. All still to play for in Stockholm.