Portugal v Sweden – as it happened!

• Ronaldo's late header gives Portugal narrow first-leg lead
The best images from the game

Full-time: Portugal 1-0 Sweden

Ronaldo forced his way to the fore to give Portugal a precious first-leg lead as Ibrahimovic remain subdued throughout. Sweden defended with gusto and, for a while in the first half, threatened to grab an away goal, but Portugal finally found precision and gumption up front to cap all their possession with a goal. It's all teed up for crackling return leg in Stockholm will be Over to you, Zlatan.

90+1 min: Portgual are pouring forward and Sweden are having to defend like demons to keep them at bay! They'll have done well to get away with 1-0 if they manage it ...

89 min: Two Portuguese players miss a fine Coentrao cross from the left before Ferreira shows impressive presence of mind to prod it back to Ronaldo, who takes aim from 20 yards ... and then sends it into the Atlantic.

87 min: No sign of Sweden trying to equalise here: they're just trying to cling on and ensure the tie doesn't career away from them before the return leg. More last-ditch defending is required to force the ball behind for a corner as Ronaldo lurked again.

85 min: Portugal aren't satisfied: they want a second. And Ronaldo nearly delivers it from another fine cross from the left. A trademark leap over took him above Olsson but his eight-yard header bounced back off the bar!

GOAL! Portugal 1-0 Sweden (Ronaldo 82)

You can't keep a good man down. Sweden have been repelling Portuguese crosses all night but the latest one from Velosi was just too good - and Ronaldo was determined to crown it with the goal it deserved, diving in front of the defender to head into the net from six yards.

80 min: Elmander plunges to the ground after knocking the ball past Ferreira in the box ... it's a blatant dive but the ref decides against booking him, which is lucky for the already-booked Norwich man.

79 min: Portugal change: Meireles off, Josue on.

78 min: Sweden substitution: Kallstrom off, Svensson on.

76 min: Ronaldo booked for running into Isaksson as he pursued the ball. Silly decision by the ref, even if the keeper appears to be hurt.

75 min: Isaksson is bamboozled by a long-range swirler from Meireles. HE starts going one way but the ball shifts in the air and starts going the other .... so the keeper reaches back and keeps it out with one hand. But Ronaldo is on hand and poised to turn it into the net ... until the ref correctly spots that's he way offside.

74 min: Ferreira and Ronaldo try to open up Sweden with a one-two but the visitors remain impressively vigilant and Kallstrom cuts out the danger before smashing the ball clear. But Portugal will be back - they've dominated possession in the second period.

72 min: Sweden substitution: Elm off, Wernbloom on.

71 min: Larsson sees yellow for shoving over Coentrao. And because that's the colour of his jersey.

70 min: Sweden launch another counter-attack, getting more men forward than at any other time in the second half. But Rui Patricio puts an end to their conniving but rushing off his line to intercept Kallstrom's cross. He immediately lashes the ball downfield to get Portugal on the front foot again.

68 min: Ibrahimovic, who has been even less excitign than ROnaldo but has at least contributed defensively, at last gets a chance to make his presence felt up front ... but he allows the ball to run away from him when Elmander was calling for a through-ball. Portugal charge down the other end and Nani creates space for a shot from 20 yards, forcing Isaksson into a rare save.

66 min: Portugal substitution: Postiga off, Hugo Almeida on.

63 min: Postiga heads into the sidenetting from the corner. The crowd on the far side thought it went into the net, until they realised who had taken the shot.

62 min: The best bit of Portuguese play of the night: quick and incisiev interplay around the box works Pereira into space behind the Swedish defence. The full-back seems set to send the ball across the face of goal, where Ronaldo is awaiting it eagerly, but Antonsson makes a superb last-gasp intervention to thwart that plan!


60 min: First-rate scampering by Postiga, followed by a good pull-back to Meireles. And there endeth Portugal's good ideas, as Meireles whacks the ball way over from 25 yards.

58 min: Typical - Portgual finally get a few players into the box in anticipation of a Pereira cross ... and the full-back miscues, sending the ball into the stands, where Swedish fans are starting to crow about the ease with which their side is keeping Ronaldo & Co at bay.


55 min: Moutinho bisects the Swedish defence with a superb pass from deep ... but Coentrao's first touch is heavy, allowing Sweden to regroup and Lustig hares over to smack the ball out for another corner.


53 min: Nani cuts to the byline and flashes in a cross that Nilsson slams wide at the near post. Another corner to Portugal. "Nicola Rizzoli isn't a hairdresser, you're thinking of the other Italian ref, Paolo Tagliavento," storms Francis barbuti. "Rizzoli is an architect." Let's not split hairs: shaping buildings and bonces are pretty much the same thing. What is Sydney Opera House but a glorified moustache?

50 min: Mayhem in the Swedish box! Alves looped a cross towards the far post and Olsson completely missed it and the ball then ricocheted around the area but jsut wouldn't quite fall on the foot of a Portuguese. Eventually Sweden scramble it away.

48 min: Portugal, seeking to rediscover the tempo with which they played in the first 20 minutes, rattle forward and create an opening for ... Postiga, with predictable consequences. The forward's spectacular 18-yard volley sails way, way over the bar.

46 min: Within moments of the resumption Ibrahimovic is in bother after shunting into Pepe, who's tends to react to such things as if Brian Blessed is on his shoulder bellowing "diiiiiiiiiiive!"

Half-time: Portugal 0-0 Sweden

A helter-skelter opening promises goals galore but neither side has been sufficiently wily in the final third to really look like breaking through. Portugal have had plenty of the ball but too few ideas and too little presence in the box, while Sweden have defended well, if frantically, and look capable of hitting hard on the break.

44 min: After a Portugal cornerr is cleared, Moutinho sends as long diagonal cross back into the box. Pepe leaps to meet it but can't get enough power on the header to worry Isaksson, who has been unpetrubed for most of the half.

42 min: Seb Larsson may have a whole butter mountain in his back garden if his wastefulness from that freekick is anything to go by. With several Swedes waiting in the box for a cross, he donked the ball high and wide.

41 min: Pereira booked for a lubberly challenge on Kacaniklic, who's been lively down Sweden's left wing.


For your eyes only ...

Just look at these photos!


39 min: Nani slides a nice ball through to Postiga, whose first touch is good but Antonsson scurries back to poke the ball behind for a corner before the striker could bash off a shot.

37 min:  Ronaldo, who's been inconsequential so far (as, indeed, he has been for much of the campaign, having failed to score in six of the match qualifying matches he played), soars to try to meet a corner but the defender pevents him making a firm connection.

34 min: Portugal are like those guys with six or seven degrees: you might think they have everything they need to succeed but, when it comes down to it, they're not really all that clever. Sweden are not as snazzy but they're the side with the smarts here.


31 min: yet more fine build-up play by Portugal but again it peters out when they get near the box, Perreira sending yet another ignored cross.

26 min: And that was nearly the blunder I mentioned! Meireles clipped a dainty ball towards Ronaldo and Antonsson, trying to intercept, almost diverts it past his own keeper ... but, fortuantely for him, didn't get quite enough contact on it and Isaksson was able to adjust his feet and gather the ball.


24 min: These teams are as nervous as a police horse in Newcastle: every time the ball goes into either box, defenders slash at it hopefully - it seems only a matter of time before someone slices the ball into his own goal or the path of an opposing forward.

23 min: While we're on the subject of great strikers, it is my pleasure to inform you that the all-new Republic of Ireland of Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane are 1-0 up on Latvia thanks to ... good ol' Robbie Keane.

22 min: Oooooh! While everyone was wondering what Zlatan would come up with, Kallstrom curled an excellent effort around the wall and millimetres wide of ther top corner!


21 min: Trouble for Portugal: Postiga, battling back at the edge of this area, trips Nilsson to concede a freekick 19 yards out, quite central. Zlatan fancies it ...

20 min: Beautiful dummy by Zlatan to let a pass from Elmander run across the edge of the area and into the path of Larsson, who let fly first time and brought a smart save from Patricio.


18 min: Joao Pereira's all but hypnotised Martin Olsson and got the freedom of the right wing - but so far none of his crosses have found Postiga, who is too often the only Portuguese in the box.


16 min: Freekick to Portugal 28 yards out. Guess who's going to take it? Well, it might as well have been Abel Xavier because Ronaldo's tonked it straight into the wall.

15 min: Back down the end we go and Kacaniklic races behind Coentrao and towards the box - but he's too fast for his team-mates, none of whom can get into a position to receive a cross so the Fulham man stops and waits for support, and loses possession.


14 min: Postiga traps a low pass from Bruno Alves and then tries to wriggle past three defenders at the edge of the Swedish area ... and he darn near managed it! Eventually, however, the trio got the better of him and wellied the ball clear. "Considering panicky-Pepe, what say others when Pepe picks his first yellow from the Hairdresser?" wonders Sandip Vyas. "I say the 34th minute." That long?

11 min: This is engrossing fare: it's fast-paced and tense yet very open. Goals look likely. "Giving an opinion doesn’t make you a troll," trolls Richard Cooper. "I don’t rate Ibra either; always misses a hatful of chances before netting." Right, you've gone and brought up something else that annoys me: the clumsy use of the word 'rate'. You do rate him. What you mean is that you don't rate him highly. It's as if I said you don't think. When, of course, you probably do, you just think wrong.


8 min: Jitters in the Portuguese box as Sweden send in a series of threatneing crosses. A panicky Pepe tries to clear but shanks it out for a corner, which, luckily for him, comes to nothing.

6 min: Sweden hit back and almost land a sucker punch, Lustig flying down the right and delivering a snappy centre that Elmander meets on the run but sends fractionally wide from seven yards!

5 min: Meireles, whos appears to have modelled his latest look on a Canadian lumberjack, carves open the Swedish defence with a lovely pass. Moutinho races on to it and glides around the keeper but, in doing so, is forced wide and his subsequent shot flies into the side-netting.

3 min: It's all Portugal so far. They've begun with promising pace and purpose. "I'll say it," begins Achuth Vasudevan. "Zlatan is overrated. There. Just because he gives good sound bites, everyone's fawning over him. There are better strikers out there but I'll admit that he is pretty good." I'll say it: you are a troll. Zlatan is a delight and there are very few better strikers than him out there.

1 min: After a rendition of the Portuguese national anthem that would raise the hairs on the back of your neck if you hadn't just had them waxed like a good metrosexual, Portugal get the game going ... and within seconds they get behind the visiting defence and fire in dangerous crosses, first Coentrao and then Moutinho: but no one was on hand to get on the end of them, a familiar story for Portugal.

Clack-clack-clack ...

Out march the teams, led by their respective phenomena: Ronaldo looks focused, pent-up and dashing; Ibrahimovic is smiling, relaxed and has his hair done up like a sumo wrestler. Has Mr Rizzoli been moonlighting early doors?

There are 61,457 spectators in the Stadium of Light tonight ... and that's not even including Barney Ronay, who's a one-man Pepe fan club.


It's Highlander time for Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic: for World Cup qualification, there can be only one. It seems a shame that one of these gifted players will miss the Big Ball and the pity is only partially offset by the potential attendance of Philippe Senderos and Shola Ameobi. True, Zlatan hasn't done much on his previous visits to the global stage – his contribution to the 2006 World Cup was forgettable, unlike that of Ronaldo – but he has been getting better with age and has reached the point where he does something extraordinary in nearly every match. Let's hope that continues tonight and he forces Ronaldo & Co. to pull out their A game. Portugal have marginally better individuals than Sweden overall, but they lacked rhythm and ruthlessness in the group stages and only have themselves to blame for landing in this predicament, having goofed badly to finish behind Russia. In contrast, Sweden showed resilience and enterprise to finish second in a far tougher group, hurtling along in Germany's in slipstream, and taht's why I make them slight favourites.


Portugal: Rui Patricio; Joao Pereira, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Fabio Contrao; Veloso, Moutinho, Meireles; Nani, Postiga, Ronaldo

Sweden: Isaksson; Olsson, Nilsson, Antonsson, Lustig; Kacanklic, Kallstrom, Elm, Larsson; Elmander, Ibrahimovic

Ref: Italy's Nicola Rizzoli (who's also a hairdresser – did Sepp Blatter appoint him especially to look after Ronaldo?)


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