Red-hot Ronaldo becomes hero as Portugal qualify for WC at the cost of Sweden
Cristiano Ronaldo is the player that football loves back. The energetic Real Madrid star gave history another excuse to remember its name after scoring a hat-trick in Portugal’s 3-2 victory over Sweden on Tuesday night at the Friends Arena in Stockholm.
Portugal and Sweden locked horns after a first-leg in Lisbon, which provided Paulo Bento’s side a narrow 1-0 lead. Ronaldo, who scored the crucial home goal back then, was in deadly form in the second-leg as well.
Ronaldo was unleashed at the Swedish defense with Joao Moutinho aiding him as his side-kick. By the end of the night Ronaldo had ripped apart the Swedes (although Zlatan Ibrahimovic came up with two impressive goals) and equaled Pauleta’s all-time goalscoring record (47) for Portugal.
After the game Ronaldo told Publico that he didn’t “have to prove anything to anyone”. Ronaldo, who is currently the favorite to win the Ballon d’Or, is the sole reason behind Portugal’s qualification for the World Cup.
“Records are there to be beaten. It was not a priority,” Ronaldo said. “I knew that Portugal needed me. I do not have to prove anything to anyone. I try to do my work and give answers on the pitch.
“I did my job for my team. It is the team who have to be congratulated. We suffered for sure but that is how great teams win things. We retreated a little [when Sweden scored], but then we were better and we played better.”
The match was also under the spotlight because of electrifying battle between Ibrahimovic and Ronaldo. The former Manchester United forward insists he didn’t compete with Ibrahimovic, although he admitted him as a “fantastic player”.
“I do not compete against Zlatan,” Ronaldo told TV4. “He is a fantastic player and [the] biggest star in Sweden, but I do not compete against him. I play for my team.”
Ibrahimovic was extremely disappointed with Sweden’s exit from the World Cup. The world-class forward believes the World Cup will be a dull affair without him playing in it.
“It was probably the last attempt to reach the World Cup with the national team for me. One thing is for sure, a World Cup without me is nothing to watch so it is not worthwhile to wait for the World Cup,” Ibrahimovic was said to his app Zlatan unplugged.
“Congratulations to Portugal, but both teams deserved to get to the World Cup. The disappointment of course is great now that the World Cup in Brazil will remain a dream for the Swedish national team.”