France players celebrate their victory over Ukraine, November 19. Reuters

As the dust settled on a crazy day of World Cup qualifiers, Cristiano Ronaldo and Franck Ribery had beaming smiles, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic was left heartbroken.

A masterful hat-trick from Ronaldo helped Portugal beat Sweden 3-2 in the second leg of their World Cup playoff, seeing the former through 4-2 on aggregate.

In Paris, the drama was much more heightened as France looked for inspiration from their players after that abject performance in the first leg which saw then lose 2-0 in Ukraine.

Didier Deschamps had demanded a reaction, and he got one. France came out of the blocks in stunning fashion, catching Ukraine off guard and eventually winning the second leg 3-0 to incredibly book their place in the World Cup 3-2 on aggregate.

The three goals were scored against a Ukraine side that had not conceded a single one in eight previous outings and it was all down to the positive early start.

Deschamps expectedly rang-in the changes for the second leg as Yohan Cabaye, Karim Benzema, Mamadou Sakho, Raphael Varane and Mathieu Valbuena all came into the starting XI.

Valbuena and Franck Ribery, marked out of the contest in the first leg, made a flying start on the wings, while Paul Pogba showed exactly why he is so highly rated with a powerful all-action performance in the centre of the park.

Quite a few chances went begging in the early stages, before France found their way through in the 22nd minute. A Valbuena freekick from the right found its way to Ribery, who saw his shot stopped by Ukraine goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov. However, Sakho was on hand to turn in the rebound.

Pogba blazed over soon after before Benzema thought he had leveled the tie, turning in a cross from Ribery, only for the referee's assistant to raise his flag incorrectly for offside.

However, France would get lucky for their second goal in the 34th minute, as an opportunistic strike from Benzema went into the back of the net, with replays showing the France striker was offside.

Ukraine, so dynamic in the first leg, barely found their starting attacking gear in France as an inspired home side just kept coming at them with wave after wave of attacks.

The away side's night got worse early in the second half when Yevhen Kacheridi was given his marching orders after picking up a second yellow card for a late challenge on Ribery.

France, who themselves had gone down to ten men in the first leg, were now a man-up and a goal away from the promised land of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. And that crucial goal came 18 minutes from time.

A rebound off a strike from Patrice Evra fell to Ribery who crossed the ball back across the face of goal for Oleg Gusev to turn it into his own net under pressure from Sakho.France then saw off the final 18 minutes to cue wild celebrations.

Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal
Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates a goal against Sweden. Reuters

In Solna, Ronaldo was just in unstoppable form as the Real Madrid superstar inspired Portugal past Sweden, leaving Ibrahimovic wondering what might have been, in what is most likely his final chance at showcasing his immense talent in a World Cup.

Billed as the contest between Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic, it was the former that won out, scoring all four Portugal goals in the tie.

All five strikes in the second leg came in the second half, and via Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic. The two modern greats were in searing form, with Ronaldo putting Portugal in front in the 50th minute.

However, Ibrahimovic and Sweden would answer back with two goals in the space of four minutes to put Sweden ahead on the night. Ronaldo, though, would have the final say, scoring two more in the 77th and 79th minutes to give Portugal a 3-2 second-leg victory.

In the other two ties in Europe, Croatia and Greece booked their places in the World Cup Finals with victories over Iceland and Romania respectively.

In Africa, Ghana and Algeria qualified, at the expense of Egypt and Burkina Faso, joining Nigeria, Cameroon and Ivory Coast as the five teams to book their spots in Brazil from the continent.

Results: Europe: Sweden 2-3 Portugal (2-4 aggregate); France 3-0 Ukraine (3-2 aggregate); Croatian 2-0 Iceland (2-0 aggregate); Romania 1-1 Greece (4-2 aggregate).

Africa: Egypt 2-1 Ghana (3-7 aggregate); Algeria 1-0 Burkina Faso (3-3 aggregate, Algeria go through on away goals).

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