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The irrepressible Cristiano Ronaldo scored a dazzling hat trick to send Portugal into the 2014 World Cup finals at the expense of Zlatan Ibrahimovics Sweden on Tuesday, while France advanced by conjuring a remarkable turnaround against Ukraine. There was disappointment in the playoffs for Iceland, however, after the Nordic country failed in its bid to become the least populous nation to reach footballs biggest stage after losing to Croatia on a thrilling final night in European qualification. Ronaldo came out on top in his personal duel with fellow superstar Ibrahimovic, whose brace in Stockholm was upstaged by the Real Madrid forwards three brilliant goals in 29 second-half minutes. Portugal won 3-2 for a 4-2 aggregate victory. France overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit to Ukraine by winning 3-0 in Paris, with strikes by Mamadou Sakho and Karim Benzema as well as an own goal ensuring Les Bleus qualified for a 10th consecutive major tournament. Iceland lost 2-0 to 10-man Croatia at Zabreb and was eliminated by the same score on aggregate, and Greece was the other European nation to make it to Brazil through the playoffs after drawing 1-1 in Romania to progress 4-2 overall. The list of African qualifiers was completed with Ghana advancing 7-3 on aggregate over Egypt despite a 2-1 loss in Cairo and Algeria progressing on away goals at the expense of Burkino Faso. Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Cameroon had already won their playoffs. Mexico qualified Wednesday after beating New Zealand 4-2 in the second leg of an inter-continental playoff, bringing an end to one of its most troubled and divisive qualifying campaigns. Striker Oribe Peralta followed his double in the opening leg with a hat trick at Wellington to send his team to Brazil with an aggregate score of 9-3 over the two matches. The final berth for the 32-team World Cup will be secured later Wednesday as Uruguay protects a 5-0 lead over Jordan. The draw for the group stage of the 2014 World Cup takes place in Bahia, Brazil, on Dec. 6. Spain endured a miserable return to the scene of its World Cup triumph in 2010, losing 1-0 to South Africa at FNB Stadium -- the venue formerly known as Soccer City -- in one of a host of international friendlies. A virtually second-string Germany team consigned fierce rival England to back-to-back losses at Wembley Stadium for the first time in 36 years by winning 1-0, and Netherlands played with 10 men for almost an hour but still drew 0-0 with Colombia. While France was engineering the greatest recovery of the playoffs, Ronaldo proved once again he is the man for the big occasion, continuing a prolific season in which he could yet wrestle the World Player of the Year award from great rival Lionel Messi. He had already trumped Ibrahimovic by scoring the winner in the first leg on Friday, but the rivalry between arguably the two biggest showmen in the sport climbed to new levels at the Friends Arena. Ronaldo opened the scoring in the 50th minute but Ibrahimovic netted twice in four minutes to level the score on aggregate and give Sweden hope. That was quickly extinguished by two pieces of brilliance from Ronaldo, who burst through to power home a left-footed in the 77th before latching onto another through-ball and smashing into the roof of the net two minutes later. "Of course, we cannot underestimate how important is Cristiano for us," Portugal coach Paulo Bento said. His second hat trick in international football, to go with his 24 at club level for Manchester United and Real Madrid, sparked jubilant scenes of celebration as Portugals coaching staff and substitutes spilled onto the pitch. That was possibly the last chance for the 32-year-old Ibrahimovic to play at a World Cup, but football fans will be thrilled that both Ronaldo and Frances Franck Ribery -- two of the favourites for this years Ballon dOr -- will be in Brazil. Ribery took a back seat on Tuesday as Benzema and, more surprisingly, central defender Sakho ushered 1998 world champion France to next years tournament. Didier Deschamps lifted the World Cup in the Stade de France 15 years ago in his finest moment as a player and this fightback, against a Ukraine lineup known for his doughty defence, probably tops his achievements as a coach. "Ive experienced some great moments but this one is special. Its fabulous," Deschamps said. France levelled the aggregate score at 2-2 by halftime through close-range goals by Sakho and the recalled Benzema before Ukraine was reduced to 10 men in the 47th when fullback Yevhen Khacheridi was red-carded for fouling Ribery. Worse was to follow for the visitors as substitute Oleg Gusev turned a driven cross into his own net under pressure from Sakho, putting the French through. "We took a big slap in Ukraine," Ribery said, "and we woke up." Croatia qualified for its fourth World Cup since becoming an independent state in 1991 and quashed Icelands hopes of reaching footballs showpiece tournament for the first time. Striker Dario Mandzukic scored in the 22nd minute to put Croatia ahead on aggregate but was given a red card nine minutes later for a reckless tackle. Iceland, whose population is only around 320,000, couldnt capitalize and Darijo Srnas 47th-minute goal sealed victory for the hosts. Luke Moore Toronto Jersey.Y. -- Phil Jackson lost out on his preferred coach, but hes working hard on keeping his star player. Jozy Altidore Toronto Jersey.Brothers B.J. and Justin Upton each homered and had an outfield assist, and the Braves held on for a 4-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night. -- During a players meeting following the All-Star break, Jermaine ONeal promised his teammates to play the rest of the regular season like he would never play again -- because he very well might not. Herculez Gomez Jersey. Viewers in the Canadiens region can watch the game on TSN at 7:30pm et/4:30pm pt and listen on TSN 690. The Canadiens have won three in a row and four of their last five games and recently put the finishing touches on a 3-1-0 road trip. Jay Chapman Toronto Shirts. J.J. Hardy drove in a run for the Orioles, who bounced back from an 8-4 loss in the series opener on Friday. Fresh off the 15-day disabled list, Derrek Lee went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Jake Arrieta (7-3) gave up three runs on five hits over six innings to pick up the win.American businessman Randy Lerner put Aston Villa up for sale on Monday after eight years in control of the Premier League club, saying he was drained by the "week-in, week-out battles." Lerners future plans have been the subject of intense speculation following another season when the central England club -- the European Cup champion in 1982 -- came close to relegation. "I have come to know well that fates are fickle in the business of English football. And I feel that I have pushed mine well past the limit," Lerner said in a statement. "I feel further thatnow is the time for me to look for new ownership and thus new leadership." Lerner, the former owner of the NFLs Cleveland Browns, bought Villa in 2006 for 62.2 million pounds and pledged to return the club to the top of the English game. During his time as owner, Villa reached the League Cup final in 2010, losing to Manchester United, and finished sixth in the Premier League for three straight seasons from 2008-10 under manager Marrtin ONeill.dddddddddddd But since ONeills departure in 2010, Villas fortunes have tumbled and a youthful team managed by Paul Lambert has narrowly avoided relegation the last two years. It finished 15th in the 20-team league this season and is desperate for investment in new signings. "The last several seasons have been week-in, week-out battles," Lerner said in his statement. "Iowe it to Villa to move on, and look for fresh, invigorated leadership, if in my heartIfeelIcan no longer do the job." Villa has won the English league title seven times, most recently in 1981 -- the year before the team lifted the European Cup by beating Bayern Munich 1-0. Lerner is one of a slew of American owners of clubs in the lucrative Premier League, along with Stan Kroenke at Arsenal, the Glazer family at Manchester United, John Henry at Liverpool and Ellis Short at Sunderland. Fulham, which was relegated from the top flight this season, was bought by American businessman Shahid Khan last July. Cheap NFL Jerseys China ' ' '


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