The two-legged World Cup play-off between Sweden and Portugal had been portrayed as a grudge match between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo and while Ibrahimovic bagged a double, it was Ronaldo who stole the show with a devastating display of attacking football.
His four goals over the two legs, including a second-leg hat-trick ensured Paulo Bento’s men qualified for the World Cup in Brazil next year and consigned the 28-year-old to the history books, equalling the national Portuguese record for goals scored at international level.
Not content with sending his national team to Brazil 2014, Ronaldo then set Real Madrid on their way to an emphatic victory over Liga side Almeria.
Goal’s Spanish expert Ben Hayward says: “Although he ended up with a slight injury after scoring the opener for Real Madrid at Almeria on Saturday, this was a wonderful week for Cristiano Ronaldo.
Those goals saw him draw level with Pauleta as Portugal’s all-time top goalscorer (on 47 international strikes) and the 28-year-old now has 67 goals for club and country in 2013. With Ballon d’Or voting extended to the end of the month, he is also now the big favourite to claim the prestigious prize ahead of Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.
A memorable week for Ronaldo, then, in what has been the finest year of his career to date.
|Congratulations to Cristiano Ronaldo, Goal’s 237th World Player of the Week winner!
Sergio Aguero – Man City
Goal’s Alec Fenn: “The Argentina striker was devastating in their 6-0 win against Tottenham on Sunday.”
Madjid Bougherra – Algeria
@rfc_dickson: “Well done to the big man sending Algeria to the World Cup.”
Goal’s Craig Turnbull: “Was there at the right place at the right time to fire his side to Brazil next year.”
Carlos Vela – Real Sociedad
@MrAlecFenn: “Proved that the cream always rises to the top.“
Goal’s Miguel Churruca: “He surprised us all with a stunning hat-trick and magnificent performance.”
Ryan Gauld – Dundee United
@Kenny_Crawford: “Just the four assists for Ryan Gauld against Partick Thistle.”
Goal’s Craig Turnbull: “A wonderful display by the talented 17-year-old Scotsman destined for big things.”