FULL TIME: Sweden 2-3 Portugal (Portugal win 2-4 on aggregate)
And that's that! Sweden, who came third the last time a World Cup was held in Brazil, won't be there this time. And neither will their outstanding star player Zlatan Ibrahimovic. A huge shame. But Portugal deserved to get there. They were the better side over the two games, responded in stunning fashion when Sweden finally got them rocking, and in Cristiano Ronaldo boast a player of amazing ability and superhuman big-game chops. He's off to Brazil, as are Portugal. And deservedly so. Tell you what, a few matches like that next summer won't go amiss.
90 min +2: Ronaldo is human! A long ball down the middle. Olsson should clear, but he allows Ronaldo to win an aerial challenge, and suddenly the hat-trick hero is all alone on the edge of the area. But he pokes his shot inches wide right of the goal. No fourth goal for you! A fine display of chutzpah follows, as his face contorts in frustration and pain, as though that miss really mattered. It probably did to Ronaldo, who is operating on a different plane.
90 min: Gerndt comes on for Larsson. There will be five added minutes. Sweden only need to score in three of them.
89 min: Sweden are stroking it around at the back, an exercise in futility.
88 min: Elmander hoicks a shot straight down Rui Patricio's throat from the right of the D.
87 min: Ronaldo exchanges passes with Nani on the halfway line and races off down the right with a goal in mind. He eats up the turf, before belting a shot just wide right from a prohibitive angle and distance.
86 min: Durmaz goes on a busy ramble down the left, but can't get a cross into the danger area. It's so very quiet in the Friends Arena now.
84 min: Antonsson is booked for a lazy clip on the ankles of Nani.
83 min: Elmander attempts to whip a shot into the top left on the spin, 12 yards out, but can't get his effort on target. Everyone knows this is over. How brilliant Sweden have been in this half, but they've just met a force of nature.
82 min: A couple of changes. Ricardo Costa comes on for Almeida, while Durmaz replaces Kacaniklic.
81 min: Ronaldo has won this for Portugal, but he's not letting up. He picks up a cutback down the right from Joao Pereira, and whistles a low shot across Isaksson and an inch or so wide of the left-hand post. What a performance this has been. He was rolling around injured just before he battered in his second goal, by the way. Imagine if he had two working legs!
GOAL!!! Sweden 2-3 Portugal (Ronaldo 79)
Oh it's over all right. Sweden have to go for it, and again are caught short at the back. He's released down the middle again, and takes a couple of touches to the right, where he rounds Isaksson and whips his hat-trick goal into the empty net. That's a stunning finish. The home crowd are certainly stunned as Portugal cavort in glee, because only three minutes ago a trip to Brazil wasn't out of the question. It's out of reach now!
GOAL!!! Sweden 2-2 Portugal (Ronaldo 77)
Sweden are certainly all over the shop. Almeida, in the centre circle, guides a pass out left to Ronaldo. Sweden are short at the back, and Ronaldo's clear, heading to the area. And once he gets there, he lashes a stunner into the bottom right. This is over.
75 min: A right old brouhaha on the edge of the Portuguese area. The away side are really rocking here. Nothing comes of that one, but Sweden are soon coming back at the visitors. Joao Pereira is so preoccupied with Ibrahimovic when dealing with a right-wing cross that he leaves Kacaniklic free at the left-hand post! But Kacaniklic can't control, and Portugal clear. Everyone's all over the shop here.
GOAL!!! Sweden 2-1 Portugal (Ibrahimovic 72)
This is what happens here! Ibrahimovic did bugger all for 67 minutes, and now he's single-handedly dragged his side back into World Cup contention! He fires a low free kick into the bottom left, the ball flying through the wall, and then the despairing hands of Rui Patricio! Elmander had a role in that ball getting through the wall, leaning in and making a nuisance of himself, but that shot was hit with such uberviolence that it would probably have made it through a brick wall, never mind one made of flesh, bone and panic.
71 min: Veloso barges into the back of Elmander, right on the edge of the Portugal area, just to the left of the D! A free kick, certain to be taken by Ibrahimovic. What's going to happen here, then?
69 min: Kallstrom, in the middle of a maelstrom in the Portuguese box, breaks down the inside left channel and is sent skittering across the turf on his teeth! The crowd scream for a penalty, but the Swedish star is booked for a dive over Joal Pereira's leg! Sweden are incensed, but that's a great decision by the referee Howard Webb!
GOAL!!! Sweden 1-1 Portugal (Ibrahimovic 68)
Sweden get something going! Ibrahimovic puts himself about to win a corner down the right. The corner's whipped through the six-yard box. And it's met by the big man, who nods the easiest of goals into the bottom left! Bruno Alves was standing around next to him, like a man waiting for the bus! Ibrahimovic grabs the gift with both hands, though. And Sweden will surely be thinking about that four-goal comeback in Germany! This isn't over yet!
65 min: Almeida battles in the centre circle to wrest possession from the home team. He sprays a ball wide left, and makes for the box, where he's on the end of the resulting cross. He can't quite time his run perfectly, and a lame effort loops into the air, but that was decent all-round play. Portugal look likely to add to their lead, Sweden really need to get something going soon.
63 min: Svensson wants to watch himself, because he's just bodychecked Ronaldo after the Real Madrid star won a corner down the left with a lovely backheel. Svensson's very much a study in frustration. Webb is lenient, mindful of his recent booking. A pitiful red card would certainly be no way to end such a glorious career, but then again what's good enough for Zizou...
61 min: Howard Webb's getting into his rhythm, even if Sweden aren't. Now he gets the yellow card out for Svensson, who clips the ankles of Joao Pereira as the Portuguese tears through the middle of the park. That Portugal break came from a Swedish corner, too, so it's a double-whammy of frustration for the masses in the Friends Arena. A lot of whistling going on. It's like a Roger Whittaker convention. A reference there for the kids, they can't get enough Roger Whittaker.
59 min: Nani is booked for a ludicrous swipe on Unidentified Swedish player. A fair enough decision, though one that sends Ronaldo into a flat spin. He's right up in Howard Webb's grille, because seconds earlier he was barged unceremoniously off the ball in the centre circle by another Unidentified Swedish Player. Or perhaps it's the same Unidentified Swedish Player. I blame the font.
58 min: Ibrahimovic, in space down the right, loops a needlessly panicked centre into space where no yellow shirts roam. Ronaldo, as if to illustrate the differing fortunes of the two big names tonight, is the man tracking back to pick up the loose ball.
56 min: Meireles, down the inside right, slips the ball inside for Ronaldo, who takes a couple of determined strides towards the Swedish area and zips a low shot just wide right of the post.
54 min: Olsson is booked for a deliberate handball, gathering the thing off the turf to stop Nani tearing away upfield with it.
52 min: A change for Portugal, as the crocked Fabio Coentrao is replaced by Antunes. A hectic, slightly manic, response to the goal by the Swedish support, who know the jig is probably up, but a quick goal by way of reply and you never know.
GOAL!!! Sweden 0-1 Portugal (Ronaldo 50)
This could be it for Sweden, and it's been so simple for Portugal. Moutinho latches onto a knockdown in the centre circle, and sliderules a ball straight down the middle to release Ronaldo. He takes a couple of touches, drifting slightly to the left, then batters a left-footed shot past Isaksson into the right of the net.
49 min: This match has sparked into life all right! Ibrahimovic, in the Portuguese area, battles down the inside-right channel and, on the byline, hooks a ball back. He had no right to do that. Larsson, six yards out and level with the right-hand post, takes a touch, then lashes a low shot goalwards. It's parried brilliantly by Rui Patricio.
48 min: Fabio Coentrao dances down the inside left channel and feeds Ronaldo into the area. Ronaldo's clear, but his low shot is kicked away by Isaksson. He was offside anyway, but what a save by the keeper!
47 min: Bruno Alves is down on the floor, claiming Elmander's crumped an elbow in his coupon. It was a common-or-garden shoulder charge, though. "I should be rooting for Sweden with being in an Anglo-Swedish family and all that," begins Gåry Nåylör, "but I'd be happy for the score to stay as it is on one condition. Zlatan joins the BBC as a pundit for Brazil 2014." A fine idea, though could he not join ITV, especially if Roy Keane's back on the job for the summer? I'd love to see Keane's response to any of Zlatan's highfalutin chat.
And we're off again! Sweden make a change, throwing on the erstwhile Southampton midfielder Anders Svensson in place of Elm. It's Svensson's 148th cap, and potentially his last, unless the Swedes can turn this one around.
Stockholm-related half-time entertainment: "You'll soon be dust, your deeds already are," is possibly a lyric Zlatan won't want to be hearing later on. "You saw no orb" might stick in the craw, too. Still, another 45 minutes to go, it's a fate he can avoid.
HALF TIME: Sweden 0-0 Portugal
And that's that for the half. The visitors have been the better team, and on another night Ronaldo would already have a couple of goals to his name. Ibrahimovic & Co. need to ramp this one up a bit, or it'll be CR7 on his way to WC2014. Is WC2014 a thing? You know what I mean.
45 min: Ibrahimovic has his first effort of the evening, latching onto a dropping ball at a Sweden corner from the left. He's level with the right-hand post, and 12 yards out, but can't keep his volley down. That's something, which as fans of clichéd nonsense know, is better than nothing.
43 min: See 36 minutes, only it's Nani whipping the low, vicious cross into the area from the right. Ronaldo again with the double-quick skip-hop, the pinball-flipper flick of his right boot, and the whistler over the bar. He goes over on his ankle and looks pained, but the trainer doesn't come on, so you'd have to assume he will be OK (writes Dr Murray, who is winging it and should be struck off).
42 min: Some action for both goalkeepers within the space of 60 seconds. First Isaksson gathers Veloso's corner, which looked like curling through the air and flying straight in. Then Rui Patricio gathers a long-range low fizzer from Kallstrom.
39 min: Sweden want Portugal to put the ball out of play, because Elmander is down, Pepe having clipped him. It's not a foul, according to Howard Webb, and everyone plays on. To be fair, Sweden didn't stop when they were in possession, so they had no right to give it the bottom lip. Anyway, Portugal flood forward, Ronaldo tearing into acres of space down the right. Entering the area, he clips a ball to the far post. Isaksson, drawn towards the near post, is out of the picture. Almeida should score, but from six yards out, manages to find the side netting on the left instead of knocking it into the unguarded net. The crowd aren't happy, which is their right as paying punters, but that was good refereeing from Webb.
36 min: Joao Pereira bombs down the right and sends a low, vicious cross into the area. Ronaldo has to perform a double-quick skip-hop to meet the ball at the penalty spot, but he manages it, and with a pinball-flipper flick of his right boot, whistles a shot just over the bar. But that really wasn't too far away. Sweden are living very dangerously here. Ronaldo is definitely winning the battle of the two superstars at the moment.
35 min: Ronaldo, having had a sniff of goal, has his tail up. He takes the ball up on the right, cuts infield, and lashes a daisycutter towards the bottom-right corner. Isaksson is down well to smother, but Sweden want to watch that, they were backing off dangerously and you can't be giving Ronaldo too many chances to shoot.
32 min: A long ball hoofed down the Portuguese right. Sweden carelessly concede a corner from distance. The set piece is whipped into the area. On the penalty spot, Ronaldo outleaps Nilsson and Elm, but the Swedish pair put him under enough pressure and his header flies over the crossbar. Even so, while it's a fair enough miss for most players, Ronaldo is so good in the air that you'd expect him to do better than that. The home crowd are pretty quiet now.
29 min: Larsson gives the ball away cheaply to Kallstrom in the middle of the park. Ronaldo threatens to break into the Swedish area, coming in from the left to meet a sliderule pass, but Nilsson comes over to put a stop to his gallop. That's superb defending from Sweden; the midfield play, not so much.
27 min: Space for Kacaniklic down the left, fed into space by Ibrahimovic. This looks promising, with Elm crying for the ball on the penalty spot, but the cross is inaccurate and the opportunity is gone. One save's all we've seen so far, but this has been reasonably open and entertaining for such an important match.
25 min: Again Lustig has an opportunity to send one of his pals into space down the right, and again his attempt at a pass is woeful. This time it's Ibrahimovic standing there in a fit of pique, Christ the Redeemer style. At least he's downgraded himself from God, look at it that way.
24 min: Sweden aren't seeing much of the ball at the moment. Ibrahimovic has been very quiet so far. He's cut in from the right in an attempt to make things happen with a dribble, but that one didn't come off.
22 min: Now it's Ronaldo's turn to fizz a shot out of the galaxy, twisting and turning down the right after being set off on a run by a sliderule pass from Joao Pereira. He's left with a tight angle, and opts for the spectacular. Nope! And you know that thing Nani did? The looking ashamed? Nope! He delivers a bollocking to each and every one of his team-mates for not keeping up and giving him the option of a pullback. He's got a point, but still.
20 min: Ronaldo chases after the ball down the right, then backheels to Nani, who is in plenty of space, cutting in from the same wing near the area. He tries to lash one into the net in the 'Spectacular' style. Nope! He has the good grace to look ashamed as the ball departs the stadium on an amazing journey.
17 min: Olsson spins past Joao Pereira down the left, a wonderful turn which has the off-balance defender trying, in futile fashion, to keep his balance by running on the spot, the sort of desperate cartoon shuffle that should be soundtracked by a xylophone trill. Olsson makes good for the area, and whips a shot into the side netting on the left. Rui Patricio had that covered all the way. The Portugal keeper hasn't had a thing to do yet.
15 min: A free kick for Portugal out on the right. It's whipped into the area, where Bruno Alves, on the penalty spot, heads powerfully down towards the bottom-left corner. Isaksson is probably a split-second late in going down to save, but he gets there in the end, Gordon Banksing up and out for a corner. Nothing comes from the set piece, but that was so nearly the away goal that'd put Sweden in all sorts of qualification bother.
12 min: Lustig has the chance to send Larsson scooting into acres of space down the right, but his pass is woeful. Larsson does that thing footballers do when they're in space but don't receive the pass, standing on the spot with his arms spread out. Throwing some Christ the Redeemer shapes in case Sweden don't get the chance to go sightseeing in Rio next summer, perhaps.
10 min: Sweden have come right back into this, though. They're now pressing Portugal in the middle of the park with extreme prejudice. It's all a bit tatty, but they'll be happy enough with their start.
7 min: Coentrao goes in high and late on Lustig down the right. Howard Webb opts to let the first bad foul go without a caution. It's a tactic that worked so well at the 2010 World Cup final. Kallstrom rakes a useless free kick towards the far post, in a very abstract fashion. It flies into the crowd. Sweden have had two chances to load the box and cause a bit of trouble, but Portugal haven't been required to do a single thing in the way of desperate defence yet.
6 min: Ibrahimovic slides a pass down the inside-left channel for Kacaniklic, with Portugal on the back foot. But his pass is too strong and his young team-mate can't keep it in play. Perhaps not the ideal time for Alex Roggero to report an interview with Zlatan earlier on Swedish television:
"Only God knows how it will end," says Zlatan.
"Bit difficult to ask him," answers the interviewer.
"Not at all. He is sitting right in front of you!"
5 min: Portugal stroke the ball forward down one channel, then another, going nowhere in particular. They're quite happy to sit back and see how things develop.
2 min: Martin Olsson forces the first corner of the match, down the left for Sweden. Larsson pulls a ball back to the edge of the area for Kallstrom. Howard Webb nearly gets in the way, and the resulting shot is shanked miles wide. Would have probably been wiser to fling that one into the mixer for an early nerve-tester, but then that's a very British tactic, isn't it, and look where that usually gets you.
And we're off! A mighty atmosphere in the Friends Arena. The home fans express their displeasure as Portugal stroke it around the back awhile. "Though it pains me to say it, neither Norway nor Scotland will be a huge loss to next year's World Cup," suggests iconoclasm'sSimon McMahon. "At least they'll be in good company after tonight's play-offs are done. Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic, Ribery, Snodgrass. At least two out of that four won't be in Brazil." It's a blow to football fans worldwide, but just think about the effect on the marketing men! A summer with not a single opportunity to take a photo of the Scottish Garrincha doing his thing on Copacabana beach.
The teams are out! Sweden in their famous yellow and blue, Portugal in their equally renowned red. And it's time for the national anthems: Sweden's is very windswept. Here's a version which, if I'm not mistaken, has been played at least four times on every single episode of Radio 3's Late Junction. Portugal's has more of a populist Classic FM feel about it, and there's nothing wrong with that.
The world-class talent
Sweden: Isaksson, Lustig, Nilsson, Antonsson, Martin Olsson, Larsson, Elm, Kallstrom, Kacaniklic, Elmander, Ibrahimovic.
Subs: Wiland, Jonas Olsson, Svensson, Gerndt, Granqvist, Wernbloom, Bengtsson, Johansson, Toivonen, Durmaz, Zengin, Nordfeldt.
Portugal: Rui Patricio, Joao Pereira, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Fabio Coentrao, Meireles, Veloso, Joao Moutinho, Nani, Almeida, Ronaldo.
Subs: Eduardo, William Carvalho, Eder, Bruma, Ricardo Costa, Luis Neto, Ruben Micael, Varela, Antunes, Josue, Postiga, Beto.
Referee: England's Howard Webb (England)
Good evening, and welcome to Scandinavia for our coverage of the big match between
Norway and Scotland Sweden and Portugal. Tonight, one of the best players on the planet will be turfed out of the 2014 World Cup before the thing's really started. Whatever happens, we're going to witness a heartbreaking tale exploring universal themes of unrealised talent, missed opportunity and thwarted ambition, with the singular hubristic pressures of 21st-century celebrity folded into the mix. It'll be like watching On The Waterfront and American Beauty back to back, followed by the Big Brother, X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing results programmes, then to bed with a nightcap (70cl own-brand gin to no parts tonic) and some light reading by Jonathan Franzen. There are no happy endings tonight, for it's either Zlatan or CR7 for the off. Strange empty feelings and pangs of misery ahoy! And that's a nailed-on Guardian guarantee!
A more optimistic reading? Yes, we probably need one of those, don't we. This, my emotional pals, could be a match for the ages. It's perfectly poised, for a start, Cristiano Ronaldo's first-leg header in Lisbon last Friday the only difference between the two teams. Sweden have to score, but seeing Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored ten goals in eight appearances at the new Friends Arena - admittedly very many of those were against Joe Hart - you'd reckon Portugal might need to find the net once or twice as well. A rollercoaster classic isn't beyond the realms. Partly because neither defence is totally reliable: Sweden conceded nine in two matches against Germany, while Portugal weren't that far away from losing home and away to Northern Ireland. But mainly because the stakes couldn't be higher for two of the game's most prodigious talents - and two of the more storied countries in World Cup history. It, ladies and gentlemen, is on!
Kick off: 7.45pm GMT, 8.45pm in Solna, Stockholm.