Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo put on a show Tuesday at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, conjuring a hat trick to lead his squad to a 3-2 win in the decisive second leg of a playoff with Sweden for one of the four remaining European slots in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Portugal came into the contest with a 1-0 advantage from last Friday's first leg in Lisbon.
The Real Madrid superstar put the visitors ahead 1-0 on Tuesday with a strike in the 50th minute, but Sweden's top gun, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, created a glimmer of hope for the home team with two goals in the space of four minutes.
With the teams tied 2-2 on aggregate 72 minutes into the second leg, Ronaldo topped Ibrahimovic's feat with two goals in three minutes and Portugal's defense held off the Swedes.
France, whose hopes of making the trip to Brazil looked slim after Ukraine beat them 2-0 in the first leg in Kiev, came roaring back on Tuesday with a 3-0 home win to claim a spot in the finals.
In Tuesday's other European playoff action, Greece and Romania tied 1-1, enabling the Greeks to advance 4-2 on aggregate, while Croatia beat Iceland 2-0 to secure the remaining World Cup berth.
Belgium, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Russia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, England and defending champion Spain nailed down the other nine European slots during the qualifiers. EFE