It was billed as Cristiano Ronaldo vs Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Two superstars in the game head-to-head on a billboard and then on the field. One winner goes to the World Cup in Brazil; the loser stays home. It is a duel and a plot that would make Don King, Dana White or Vince McMahon weak at the knees. The trio would likely remove the 20 extras placed on the pitch for a real one-on-one duel but this was not solely about entertainment. Not in leg one of the two-legged affair, anyway. The Estadio de Luz in Lisbon was the stage, with two main characters in it, but it was always going to be more than just the two captains. At least for most of the game. We were sold on Ronaldo vs Ibra but the moment the matchup started it turned into an 11-man tag team match. Their faces would never appear on billboards but captains Ronaldo and Ibra tapped in others to attempt to gain a vital advantage for their team. Right back Joao Pereira had his moment in the middle of the ring, given constant space down the right flank, thanks to a Swedish narrow back four by design, to target Martin Olsson, while midfielders Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles dictated the tempo in midfield enjoying an extra man against Sweden wanting to play a man closer to their talisman, Ibrahimovic. The man with that responsibility was Johan Elmander, known more these days for his work rate rather than his goals (never a good thing for a striker), but next to the PSG man he provided a comfort blanket. Swedish coach Erik Hamren will have had nightmares of his team playing a 9-0-1 system with Ibrahimovic as disconnected to his team-mates as he is in overall talent. Ibra would tap Elmander into the theatre to sit defensively on Miguel Veloso and provide an aerial, physical threat that would create more space for himself. At times it worked but at halftime, with the game scoreless, the stats showed just what everyone, other than the aggressive promoters, knew too well. Ronaldos 23 touches ranked ninth on his team with only his goalkeeper and ineffective striker, Helder Postiga, less involved. Ibrahimovic, meanwhile, was involved even less, touching it just 17 times, and more than just three of his teammates. With so much on the line, it was predictably cagey. Ronaldo hit a free kick into a wall, at the other end Ibrahimovic stood over one for Sweden before tapping Kim Kallstrom into the ring and the left footed midfielder blasted the ball inches wide of the top left post. The Swedes offered the flanks to Portugal and they gladly took them. It allowed Pereira and left back Fabio Coentrao to play larger parts than they have for their clubs this season but it also forced Ronaldo and Nani inside, to play closer to the front man, and that made it easier to defend against, particularly with the ineffective Manchester United winger often giving the ball away. The first 45 minutes was average and the next 35 was even worse. Sweden got deeper and deeper, hoping for a sucker punch from a set piece, but this Portugal side is too mature for that. What the Ronaldo vs Ibra hype monsters failed to recognize was this Portugal team is comfortable when Ronaldo isnt involved. The midfield three have an understanding on how to control a game and their two centre backs rarely make a mistake and are far too experienced and talented to be overawed by the presence of Ibrahimovic. Ronaldo is used to letting his team do the work until he pounces. Four years ago in a World Cup playoff against Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Real Madrid man missed both legs through injury. His place in the World Cup lay in the hands of his teammates and they delivered. Two years ago, again in a playoff against Bosnia, Portugal were resolute in a 0-0 first leg away from home before coming home and allowing the brilliant Ronaldo to start a 6-2 onslaught with a trademark free kick goal. At the European Championships last summer, Ronaldo was poor against Denmark in the group stage but his team won at the death 3-2. They waited for the genius to step up and he did exactly that, with brilliant performances against the Dutch and Czechs, carrying his team to a semifinal against Spain where they matched the World Champions in all departments except penalties. That day in Donetsk, Ronaldo chose to be the fifth taker in the shootout and, uncharacteristically, his teammates let him down. Ronaldo couldnt save them that time, denied a penalty in a 4-2 shootout loss. Portugal has never done things the easy way and thats why they found themselves, once again, on show against Zlatan and his 10 extras in Lisbon on Friday night. It appeared the game was heading towards a drab 0-0 until Portugal found space again down the left flank. Veloso, this time, was the man on the wing, taking a fast throw in, creating a quick one-two with substitute Hugo Almeida, before sending in a delicious ball that needed a brave run and head on the end of it. As the ball swung dangerously into the six yard box, the main character had his big moment in the plot. Ronaldo brushed aside Olsson, getting his head to the ball and sending it into the net for the games only goal. At a similar time to his headed winner against the Czechs at last summers European Championships, Ronaldo had done it once again, delivering the key blow of the game and, possibly, the knockout blow in the matchup. It was a fitting moment. Portugal is too often criticized for not being good enough for Ronaldo but they are certainly good enough to provide him with yet another big platform to deliver on and that is why it is important they advance over Sweden in this playoff. A common thought heading into this game was that it will be sad that both Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic will not be in Brazil, but the reality is it will be a complete let down if a man as talented as Ronaldo is not in Brazil. He is on a different level to Ibrahimovic, who is a fine player himself, showing regularly, just like in this match, that he is one of the finest players to play the game. In Portugal he has a team that wont win the World Cup but they are certainly good enough to give him opportunities to show the world his talent (unlike Sweden with Ibrahimovic). In South Africa they had a coach who wouldnt allow that to happen but under Paulo Bento things are different. They do, of course, only have one foot on the plane to Brazil and their final destination will be determined in Sweden on Tuesday. It will likely be billed as Ronaldo holding advantage over Ibrahimovic, but it should be promoted as being the show that should book Ronaldos ticket to Brazil. That is one certainly worth signing up for. Adrian Beltre Jersey . The 40-year-old midfielder was put in charge on Tuesday when David Moyes reign ended after 10 months with the defending champions in seventh place in the English Premier League. Rougned Odor Jersey . Thats how the Ravens won when Ryan was their defensive co-ordinator from 2005-08, and that is precisely the formula Baltimore used to beat Ryans New York Jets on Sunday. http://www.texasrangersshop.com/rangers-...driguez-jersey/. He will play 10th-seeded Feliciano Lopez in Sundays final, after the Spanish left-hander defeated Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 7-6 (7), 6-4. Custom Texas Rangers Jerseys .A. Happ capped a challenging season with one of his best efforts of the year. Ferguson Jenkins Jersey . One out away from finishing off an impressive shutout, they let a must-win game slip away.Injured lightweight champion Anthony Pettis will be back in the octagon to defend his title against Gilbert Melendez at the end of the year, UFC president Dana White announced at news conference in Puerto Rico on Wednesday. Pettis (17-2), who suffered a torn PCL during his title-winning performance against Benson Henderson at UFC 164 last August, is slated to appear opposite Melendez as a coach of "The Ultimate Fighter 20" leading up to the finale expected to highlight UFC 182 in December. Melendez (22-3) has endured a lonng layoff as well, defeating Diego Sanchez at UFC 166 in October of last year.dddddddddddd The break comes due to a long contract dispute that had the title contender on the brink of a deal with fight promotion Bellator. However, the UFC matched its rivals offer and retained Melendezs services. Melendez also ensured himself a shot at the title as part of the new contract. The event and date have yet to be officially announced, however the UFCs end of the year event usually takes place in the last week in December. Cheap Buffalo Sabres Gear Wholesale Calgary Flames Jerseys Cheap Adidas Colorado Avalanche Jerseys Montreal Canadiens Outlet Store Wholesale New Jersey Devils Jerseys Adidas Arizona Coyotes Jerseys Cheap Adidas Boston Bruins Jerseys Cheap Adidas Carolina Hurricanes Jerseys Chicago Blackhawks Shop Free Shipping Wholesale Columbus Blue Jackets Jerseys Dallas Stars Shop Free Shipping Cheap Adidas Detroit Red Wings Jerseys Anaheim Ducks Jerseys China Wholesale Edmonton Oilers Jerseys Florida Panthers Shop Free Shipping Wholesale Los Angeles Kings Jerseys Minnesota Wild Outlet Store Cheap Adidas Nashville Predators Jerseys Cheap Adidas New York Islanders Jerseys New York Rangers Winter Classic Jerseys Cheap Adidas Ottawa Senators Jerseys Cheap Adidas Philadelphia Flyers Jerseys Wholesale Pittsburgh Penguins Jerseys Cheap Adidas San Jose Sharks Jerseys St. Louis Blues Winter Classic Jerseys Wholesale Tampa Bay Lightning Jerseys Toronto Maple Leafs Outlet Store Vancouver Canucks Outlet Store Cheap Adidas Vegas Golden Knights Jerseys Cheap Adidas Washington Capitals Jerseys Cheap Adidas Winnipeg Jets Jerseys ' ' '