LONDON – Cristiano Ronaldo upstaged Zlatan Ibrahimovic in a showdown of superstar forwards Friday, sending Portugal past Sweden 1-0 in a World Cup playoff. France’s hopes of qualifying took a big hit with a 2-0 loss in Ukraine.
Ronaldo transferred his prolific scoring touch from Real Madrid to the international stage, diving to head home the lone goal in the 82nd minute. The second leg is Tuesday in Stockholm.
France faces the prospect of missing a major tournament for the first time since 1994 after Roman Zozulya and Andriy Yarmolenko scored second-half goals for Ukraine.
Kostas Mitroglou scored twice to help Greece beat visiting Romania 3-1.
Iceland held on with 10 men to draw 0-0 with Croatia, keeping alive its chances of becoming the least populous nation to reach a World Cup.
Italy drew 1-1 with Germany and an experimental England side slumped to a 2-0 home loss to Chile in headline friendly matches.
One of the world’s top forwards will be absent in Brazil next summer — and it looks more likely to be Ibrahimovic, not Ronaldo.