Cristiano Ronaldo had often been criticized due to his lack of clutch performance.
The Real Madrid striker had always had issues appearing in big games for both Manchester United and Los Blancos, and his inability was translated to Portugal, where he was never able to be the game changer he should have been right when his team needed him the most, until today, that is.
Ronaldo already left his mark in the first leg of the playoff tie against Sweden, where he scored the only goal of the game that Portugal won 1-0. Today, he appeared right when his team needed him the most, netting a hat-trick to put Portugal past 3-2 against Sweden on their way to qualify to the World Cup to be held in Brazil next year.
The Real Madrid star scored the opening goal in the second leg, and came through big in the second half, as many Portugal fans were expecting. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a brace to put Sweden one goal away from taking the plane to Brazil, but CR7 netted twice in three minutes to swing momentum Portugal’s way. The two late goals were too much for the Swede side, as they had nothing left in the tank and ended up losing their most important game in years.
The tie was very even from start to finish on both matches. However, in the end, Ronaldo ended up being the difference maker, just like everybody expected from one of the world’s top players, and just like Portugal needed to book their presence in Brazil next year.