Victory was around in abundance, none more so than in the Portugal camp where Cristiano Ronaldo was once again the shining light, after his late goal in Lisbon he grabbed a hat-trick in the second leg in Stockholm sending Portugal to the World Cup finals in Brazil. Pepe and Ronaldo’s Real team-mate Fabio Coentrao also played a part in the thrilling match which finished 3 – 2, seeing Portugal victorious by a 4 – 2 aggregate margin. Valencia’s Joao Pereira played the full 90 minutes while his compatriot Ricardo Costa made a substitute appearance as did Sevilla’s Antunes.
Luka Modric’s Croatia advanced to the World Cup despite going down to ten men after Mario Mandzukic was sent off. Sevilla’s Ivan Rakitic also played a part in the victory, registering an assist after his deflected cross set-up Mandzukic for Croatia’s first goal in their 2 – 0 second leg victory, taking them through 3 – 0 on aggregate.
France became the first European team to overturn a 2 – 0 first-leg deficit, with Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema scoring a controversial aggregate leveller from an offside position, although justice prevailed after he had been wrongly denied by the offside flag earlier in the game.
Real Madrid team-mate Raphael Varane also played 90 minutes on a historic night in Paris which saw France through to the World Cup finals 3 – 2 on aggregate.