Portugal edge Sweden, France lose to Ukraine in World Cup play-offs

Cristiano Ronaldo (credit: MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)
Friday night saw Portugal overcome Sweden 1-0 in the first-leg of their World Cup qualifying play-off, but France's hopes of qualification are hanging by a thread after a 2-0 defeat away to Ukraine.

Portugal's tie with Sweden had been billed as a contest between Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, although the respective managers of the two sides stressed throughout their pre-match press conferences it would be the best team, and not the best player, who would come out on top.

Sweden had set their stall out to defend throughout most of the match, although Johan Elmander, Sebastian Larsson and Kim Kallstrom all had chances for the visitors.

In the end it was Ronaldo who proved decisive as he headed in the winner on 82 minutes as he stopped to reach an exceptional Miguel Veloso cross.

France, however, are in real danger of missing out on Brazil 2014 after a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Ukraine.

Ukraine made a breakthrough just after the hour mark when Roman Zozulya side-footed home having been put through by Andriy Edmar.

The hosts then took a big stride towards qualification with a late Andriy Yarmolenko penalty, after Laurent Koscielny had brought down Zozulya inside the area.

Both teams ended the match with 10 men as Koscielny and Olexandr Kucher were sent off in stoppage time, with France in real danger of missing a major tournament for the first time since 1994.

Greece also took control of their play-off with Romania as they overcame Romania 3-1 in Athens, as Konstantinos Mitroglou grabbed a brace either side of Dimitris Salpingidis' effort.

In the other play-off Iceland and Croatia could not be separated as they played out a 0-0 draw, despite the fact Olafur Skulason was sent off for the hosts in the early stages of the second-half.

The second-legs take place on Tuesday night.

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Portugal edge Sweden, France lose to Ukraine in World Cup play-offs

Friday night saw Portugal overcome Sweden 1-0 in the first-leg of their World Cup qualifying play-off, but France's hopes of qualification are hanging by a thread after a 2-0 defeat away to Ukraine.

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