• World Cup play-offs

Ronaldo decisive, France facing failure

ESPN staff
November 15, 2013
Cristiano Ronaldo scored the only goal on 82 minutes © Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo earned Portugal a 1-0 win in the first leg of their World Cup play-off against Sweden, as France suffered a 2-0 loss versus Ukraine.

Ronaldo's diving header in the 82nd minute was the difference between Portugal and Sweden, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic unable to inspire his side to a result away from home.

Little divided the two nations during the first half but Ronaldo's quality told in the second period as he stooped bravely late on, and he almost added another after an effort hit the crossbar.

In Kiev, France suffered a 2-0 defeat against Ukraine and had Laurent Koscielny sent off in the final moments to leave them facing failure in their quest to qualify for Brazil.

Roman Zozulya opened the scoring on 61 minutes as he beat Hugo Lloris, before Koscielny's foul allowed Andriy Yarmolenko to slot home from the penalty spot.

Koscielny and Olexandr Kucher both received their marching orders late on, while the result means Didier Deschamps' men face an uphill task in Tuesday's second leg in Paris.

Croatia were held to a 0-0 draw against ten-man Iceland in their World Cup play-off in Reykjavik.

Iceland - with a population of just over 300,000 - are hoping to become the smallest nation to play in the finals but they had few chances and were distinctly second best to their visitors.

However, they are still in with a chance after they held Croatia despite having to play all but six minutes of the second half with 10 men following the dismissal of Olafur Ingi Skulason for a professional foul on Ivan Perisic.

Greece are in control of their tie with Romania after they claimed a 3-1 victory in Athens.

Kostas Mitroglou opened the scoring on 14 minutes only for Romania to restore parity five minutes later through Bogdan Stancu.

The Greeks hit back swiftly, though, as Dimitris Salpingidis struck before Mitroglou grabbed his second of the game after the interval to wrap up a first leg triumph.

Elsewhere in Friday's international friendlies, Scotland played out a 0-0 draw with the United States at Hampden Park.

The Republic of Ireland's new coaching set-up of Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane secured a perfect start to their tenure with a 3-0 win over Latvia. Robbie Keane opened the scoring on 22 minutes before further goals from Aiden McGeady and Shane Long in the second half.

Northern Ireland suffered a 1-0 defeat in Turkey, with Mevlut Erding scoring in first-half stoppage time.

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