Ronaldo, Portugal lock down World Cup spot
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal defeated Switzerland 2-0 in Lisbon on Tuesday to earn a place at the 2018 World Cup and consign their opponents to next month’s play-offs.
An own goal from Johan Djourou handed Portugal the lead on 41 minutes and Andre Silva netted a second before the hour as the hosts finished top of Group B ahead of Switzerland on goal difference.
Switzerland, who beat Portugal 2-0 at home last year, had won all nine previous qualifiers but must overcome a two-legged play-off in November to earn a fourth straight World Cup appearance.
Ronaldo, who was injured for the opening qualifying defeat in Basel, returned to the Portugal line-up after coming off the bench to notch the opening goal in a lacklustre 2-0 win in Andorra on Saturday.
Switzerland were attempting to join defending champions Germany — and Spain ahead of the 2010 finals — as the only nations to complete a European World Cup qualifying campaign with a perfect record.
But AC Milan striker Andre Silva forced Yann Sommer into a smart early save from his deflected shot, with the Swiss goalkeeper then forced to make a terrific stop to tip over Bernardo Silva’s venomous effort.
A clumsy challenge in the area on Switzerland forward Haris Seferovic by Benfica team-mate Eliseu went unpunished as the visitors made a rare foray deep into the Portuguese half.
US pop star Madonna was among the crowd at the Estadio da Luz which erupted when Djourou inadvertently bundled a dangerous cross from Eliseu beyond Sommer four minutes before the break under heavy pressure from Joao Mario.
Xherdan Shaqiri tried to deceive Portugal keeper Rui Patricio with an ambitious free-kick early in the second period, but Portugal doubled their advantage with a brilliant team goal on 57 minutes.
Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva exchanged passes with former Monaco team-mate Joao Moutinho, threading through the return pass for an unmarked Andre Silva to steer in at the far post.
Switzerland go into the play-offs as the best of the eight runners-up to advance, with Slovakia missing out as the worst of the nine second-placed sides.
Vladimir Petkovic’s team will be among the seeded countries for the play-off draw on October 17 and could face Sweden, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland or Greece for a place at Russia 2018.
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