Shortly after the final whistle, Cristiano Ronaldo seemed nothing but ecstatic about his World Cup ticket. The Portugal superstar dutifully high-fives his team-mates, then briefly walks alone across the pitch in Porto. Despite a 2–0 win in the play-off final against North Macedonia, the 37-year-old initially seemed reluctant not to contribute a goal. In return, the veteran star now has a chance to win the last major title he is still missing from the winter tournament in Qatar.
Besides Ronaldo, Robert Lewandowski will be represented as another star striker at the World Cup in Qatar. Thanks to a Bayern attacker’s penalty, Poland beat Sweden 2–0 in the play-off final. While this means that Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and thus another shining figure in world football, will have to be seen, Ronaldo and the Portuguese are already aiming for great things.
“We are at the World Cup in Qatar, we are where we are,” Ronaldo posted on Instagram shortly after the easy 2-0 win over North Macedonia. Midfielder Bruno Fernandes scored both goals in Porto’s win. Ronaldo provided the opening goal for his Manchester United teammate but otherwise remained largely unremarkable. A few weeks after the Winter World Cup, the Manchester United superstar turned 38. The tournament in Qatar is likely to be his last chance at a world title. Responding to a question about his national team’s future a day before the game, he said, “Only I will decide about my future, no one else.” But it is unlikely that in 2026 Ronaldo will still be in Canada, Mexico and the USA.
This also applies in the case of Ibrahimovic, who will probably never be seen on the big stage of the World Cup again. The 40-year-old came in as a substitute in the 80th minute on Tuesday evening. However, the AC Milan striker was no longer able to prevent the defeat against Poland.
Shirtless, Lewandowski clapped and happily jumped into the dressing room of the Polish team. With his goal to make it 1–0 from the penalty spot, FC Bayern’s star striker played a major role in Poland’s ninth World Cup qualification. The 2–0 win against Sweden was ultimately sovereign as the Scandinavians could not take advantage of their chances in the first half and then went sluggish. “We are going to the World Cup! Good team, good fans. Everything is possible if you fight till the end and believe in victory,” the Bayern star wrote on Instagram.
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