November 20, 2013 in Sports

Portugal, France bound for Brazil

Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Cristiano Ronaldo enjoys the first of his three goals.
(Full-size photo)

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a dazzling hat trick to lift Portugal into next year’s World Cup at the expense of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Sweden, and France won 3-0 at Paris to overtake Ukraine 3-2 on aggregate for a berth in the 32-nation field for next year’s tournament in Brazil.

Iceland failed to become the least populous nation to reach soccer’s top tournament, losing at Croatia 2-0 on a thrilling final night of European qualifying.

Greece (4-2 aggregate vs. Romania), Ghana (7-2 vs. Egypt) and Algeria (3-3 away goals victory over Burkina Faso) also earned berths, and Mexico took a 5-1 lead into the second leg of its playoff against New Zealand which started after press time Tuesday.

The final berth will be determined tonight, when Uruguay defends a 5-0 advantage against Jordan. The draw is Dec. 6.

Ronaldo’s second international hat trick, and 26th professionally, gave Portugal a 3-2 win at Stockholm and a 4-2 aggregate victory.

The 28-year-old, who scored in Portugal’s 1-0 home win last Friday, scored off a pass Joao Moutinho in the 50th minute.

The 32-year-old Ibrahimovic tied the score in the 68th and put the hosts ahead 2-1 with a free kick three minutes later, leaving Sweden trailing on away goals. Goals by Ronaldo in the 77th and 79th minutes sealed the total-goals series for Portugal.

U.S. loses to Austria

Marc Janko scored in the 33rd minute after lax defensive marking, and the United States ended a record-setting year with a 1-0 loss to Austria.

Hungarian referee Istan Vad failed to allow a goal for the United States when Geoff Cameron’s header off Michael Bradley’s corner kick deflected off an arm of Marko Arnautovic and appeared to cross the goal line in the 17th minute before it was swatted away by goalkeeper Robert Almer.

“It was a goal, or it was a handball and we should have got a penalty,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “It’s a friendly game so I don’t want to make a big deal of it. But you have to ask why we are in 2013 and have no goal-line technology.”

Janko’s goal ended a 453-minute shutout streak in international and club play for goalkeeper Tim Howard, Everton’s starter. The U.S. finished the year with a team-record 16 victories and qualified for its seventh straight World Cup.

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