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Cristiano Ronaldo

World Cup Playoffs Recap: Who’s Going to Brazil and Who’s Staying Home [GIF]

In a scintillating final 24 hours of World Cup qualifiers, congratulations go to Portugal, France, Greece, Croatia, Algeria and Ghana who booked their tickets to World Cup 2014 tournament after qualifying via the playoffs:

The six countries will be among the 32 who’ll play in Brazil next summer to try to be crowned the best in the world.

Here’s a recap of today’s matches:

Sweden vs Portugal

“To think there’s a discussion about who is the greatest player in the world right now,” said ESPN commentator Taylor Twellman who beautifully summed up Cristiano Ronaldo’s performance for Portugal against Sweden in today’s World Cup playoff, second leg.

In a brilliantly entertaining match, Portugal took the lead after Ronaldo scored a goal on a counter attack, to put Portugal 2-0 up on aggregate. However, Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored two quick goals to make it 2-1 to Sweden, but 2-2 on aggregate. If the scores stayed the same, Portugal would advance on the away goal rule. But while soccer fans around the globe were salivating over the spectacle of seeing Sweden score another goal to send Portugal crashing out of the World Cup playoffs, Cristiano Ronaldo turned on the jets and scored a goal on the counter attack that made even Ibrahimovic applaud the goal because of the brilliance of it.

Ronaldo’s got another goal just minutes later to make it a hat trick on a golden night for Ronaldo and Portugal.

Portugal won the game 3-2 on the night, and 4-2 on aggregate.

France vs Ukraine

In the first leg between the two countries on Friday, Ukraine won the match 2-0 in convincing fashion. Such was the manner of the defeat that a poll in France that was conducted this past weekend showed that 84% of the French public had given up on the team’s chances for qualifying for World Cup 2014.

But while the French public gave up, the team certainly didn’t as they strolled to a 3-0 victory to qualify for Brazil. Despite the win, the scoreline could have been more emphatic if France was able to capitalize on their numerous chances to score.

Romania vs Greece

Going into the game, Greece had a 3-1 lead from their first leg, so when Kostas Mitroglou broke the offside trap and beat Tatarusanu to make it 1-0 to Greece (and 4-1 on aggregate), the Greece side were sitting pretty.

Romania pulled a goal back to make it 1-1 (after an unfortunate own goal by a Greek defender). But the draw was more than enough to help Greece reach Brazil 2014.

Croatia vs Iceland

The fairytale story of the Iceland national soccer team’s dreams of reaching a World Cup for the first time came to a crashing end after Croatia went on to win the match 2-0 (and 2-0 on aggregate, after the 0-0 draw between both sides last week).

Croatia scored their goals through Mario Mandžukić and Darijo Srna.

Algeria vs Burkina Faso

Out of all of the playoff matches in Africa, this two-legged series was the most entertaining. Burkina Faso surprised everyone with a 3-2 victory in the first leg, but the nation was unable to get a goal in Algeria, as the Algerians won the second leg 1-0.

With the scores tied 3-3 on aggregate, Algeria advanced due to the away goal rule.

However, it could have been a different story for Burkina Faso. Algeria almost scored an own goal, but the ball hit the post. If the ball had gone into the net, the own goal would have sent Burkina Faso to the World Cup for the first time in their history.

Egypt vs Ghana

American coach Bob Bradley’s dreams came crashing down earlier today. Despite a 2-1 victory against Ghana in the second leg, Egypt lost 7-3 on aggregate in front of a packed crowd in North Africa.

It would have been a miracle if Egypt could have overcome their demoralizing 6-1 defeat from last week in the playoff first leg. But while Egypt played much better today, the Pharoahs weren’t clinical enough in front of the net. Still, Bradley (who will likely step down from his post as manager) and the Egyptian nation can keep their heads held high at an improved performance today.

New Zealand vs Mexico

Mexico defeated New Zealand 4-2 last night (and 9-3 on aggregate) to qualify for World Cup 2014.

After a disastrous qualifying campaign, El Tri finally clinched it after sacking several coaches to get the reaction they needed from its players.

Remaining World Cup Playoff

Uruguay vs Jordan
2nd leg, Wednesday 6pm, beIN SPORTbeIN SPORT Espanol and DishWorld

Similarly to Mexico, Uruguay convincingly won its first leg match, 5-0, putting the South American team in the driving seat to qualify for Brazil.

Programming note: Some of the games are being shown exclusively on beIN SPORT, beIN SPORT Espanol and DishWorld. Even if you don’t have a TV subscription to beIN SPORT, you can access those channels via online streaming service DishWorld for $10/month. Read our review of DishWorld. And sign up for DishWorld via their website.

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  1. FIFA

    June 10, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    These two countries are the countries with the highest populations in the world, and have been relatively untapped in terms of football.
    Additionally, FIFA made a rare move by deciding that the official location
    for each of these tournaments would be chosen at the same time.
    Gulati was one of the several presenting members
    of the USA Bid Committee, including 42nd President of the United
    States Bill Clinton, U.

  2. goisles01

    November 20, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Mexico literally backed into the finals by having the US win on the final day of CONCACAF then taking advantage of a woeful New Zealand side. BUT, that being said, History books are filled with great sport runs to titles and the first page of the story will read “…backed in…”. If beating up on New Zealand gives Mexico its confidence back, then this becomes a team to keep an eye on as a legit dark horse.

  3. gillyrosh

    November 19, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    I love the picture at the top of this post!

    Incredible performance by Ronaldo. I checked the score on my phone while at work, and my jaw dropped when I saw he’d scored a hat trick.

  4. patrick powell

    November 19, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    Although Ronaldo is taking advantage of the injured “Maestro” Messi, I still say that he will never be put on the same pedestal as Messi. Granted I may give him a wee bit of credit for scoring, he is still an old miser that I loath with a vengence.

  5. Dean Stell

    November 19, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    That Sweden-Portugal game was pretty exciting for a few minutes. I has just talked to a non-soccer friend at work who was asking if soccer was a game where one great player could dominate a game even if his teammates were mediocre. I said “no” and used Zlatan and Sweden as an example……and then he almost made a liar out of me. Great stuff from great players.

  6. Pakapala

    November 19, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Greece actually had a 3-1 lead before the return leg, not 2-0.

  7. goisles01

    November 19, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Ronaldo is the premiere matinee idol of the sport. Good looks, athletic prowess and an ego to match but its not bragging or showing off when u can back it up like CR7

  8. Flyvanescence

    November 19, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Twaddleman’s at it again.

    There IS no discussion about who the best player in the world is. And its not Ronaldo (much as i like CR7).

    But, Ronaldo once again scores in a big situation in a big game. Most “clutch” (to borrow an overused American sports term) player in the world? Maybe.

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