Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal have secured their place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, after seeing off Switzerland 2-0 to top their qualification group.
After coming off the bench to score his national side’s opening goal in their drab victory over Andorra last Saturday, Ronaldo returned to the starting lineup here. As it turned out, the star had a relatively quiet game, with his influence ultimately not being required on the night.
An own goal from Switzerland’s Johan Djourou broke the deadlock five minutes shy of the break, while Andre Silva headed home early in the second half to secure the victory for the reigning European champions. Despite winning all nine of their qualifying matches prior to this encounter – including a 2-0 reverse in Basel in which Ronaldo was out injured – the Swiss are now consigned to the playoffs on the basis of their opponents’ vastly superior goal difference atop Group B.
For the 32-year-old Cristiano, it guarantees his place in what will most likely be his final World Cup in Russia next summer. While he’s tasted European success with Portugal at Euro 2016, Ronaldo has often been criticised for failing to deliver on the grandest of international stages – he will have one final crack at getting it right in 2018.