Football: France facing exit, Ronaldo saves Portugal

Football: France facing exit, Ronaldo saves Portugal

PARIS - France were facing World Cup elimination on Friday after they slumped to a 2-0 play-off first-leg defeat in Ukraine while Cristiano Ronaldo kept Portugal's hopes alive with the only goal in a 1-0 win over Sweden.

Former European champions Greece were left sleeping comfortably on their hopes of making the finals in Brazil after beating Romania 3-1.

Meanwhile, Iceland's dream of becoming the smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup was left on a knife-edge after a 0-0 draw at home with Croatia.

France have it all to do in the second leg in Paris on Tuesday after defeat in Kiev meant they face missing out on the World Cup for the first time in two decades.

Roman Zozulia gave Ukraine a deserved lead in the 61st minute at the 70,000-capacity Olympic Stadium in Kiev and Andriy Yarmolenko made it 2-0 from the penalty spot with eight minutes left after Laurent Koscielny had brought down Zozulia inside the area.

Arsenal defender Koscielny was then sent off following a clash with Oleksandr Kucher, before the Ukrainian defender was also dismissed as tensions between the two teams spilled over.

Ukraine were worthy of their win and, having denied France an away goal, can now consider themselves strong favourites to go through to their second World Cup finals.

At Lisbon's Stadium of Light, Cristiano Ronaldo edged Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the battle of potential World Cup superstars, scoring a late diving header which gave Portugal a 1-0 win over Sweden in the first leg of their play-off.

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