struggled to shoot from 3-point range a

The irrepressible Cristiano Ronaldo scored a dazzling hat trick to send Portugal into the 2014 World Cup finals at the expense of Zlatan Ibrahimovics Sweden on Tuesday, while France advanced by conjuring a remarkable turnaround against Ukraine. Robin Lehner Jersey . There was disappointment in the playoffs for Iceland, however, after the Nordic country failed in its bid to become the least populous nation to reach footballs biggest stage after losing to Croatia on a thrilling final night in European qualification. Ronaldo came out on top in his personal duel with fellow superstar Ibrahimovic, whose brace in Stockholm was upstaged by the Real Madrid forwards three brilliant goals in 29 second-half minutes. Portugal won 3-2 for a 4-2 aggregate victory. France overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit to Ukraine by winning 3-0 in Paris, with strikes by Mamadou Sakho and Karim Benzema as well as an own goal ensuring Les Bleus qualified for a 10th consecutive major tournament. Iceland lost 2-0 to 10-man Croatia at Zabreb and was eliminated by the same score on aggregate, and Greece was the other European nation to make it to Brazil through the playoffs after drawing 1-1 in Romania to progress 4-2 overall. The list of African qualifiers was completed with Ghana advancing 7-3 on aggregate over Egypt despite a 2-1 loss in Cairo and Algeria progressing on away goals at the expense of Burkino Faso. Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Cameroon had already won their playoffs. Mexico qualified Wednesday after beating New Zealand 4-2 in the second leg of an inter-continental playoff, bringing an end to one of its most troubled and divisive qualifying campaigns. Striker Oribe Peralta followed his double in the opening leg with a hat trick at Wellington to send his team to Brazil with an aggregate score of 9-3 over the two matches. The final berth for the 32-team World Cup will be secured later Wednesday as Uruguay protects a 5-0 lead over Jordan. The draw for the group stage of the 2014 World Cup takes place in Bahia, Brazil, on Dec. 6. Spain endured a miserable return to the scene of its World Cup triumph in 2010, losing 1-0 to South Africa at FNB Stadium -- the venue formerly known as Soccer City -- in one of a host of international friendlies. A virtually second-string Germany team consigned fierce rival England to back-to-back losses at Wembley Stadium for the first time in 36 years by winning 1-0, and Netherlands played with 10 men for almost an hour but still drew 0-0 with Colombia. While France was engineering the greatest recovery of the playoffs, Ronaldo proved once again he is the man for the big occasion, continuing a prolific season in which he could yet wrestle the World Player of the Year award from great rival Lionel Messi. He had already trumped Ibrahimovic by scoring the winner in the first leg on Friday, but the rivalry between arguably the two biggest showmen in the sport climbed to new levels at the Friends Arena. Ronaldo opened the scoring in the 50th minute but Ibrahimovic netted twice in four minutes to level the score on aggregate and give Sweden hope. That was quickly extinguished by two pieces of brilliance from Ronaldo, who burst through to power home a left-footed in the 77th before latching onto another through-ball and smashing into the roof of the net two minutes later. "Of course, we cannot underestimate how important is Cristiano for us," Portugal coach Paulo Bento said. His second hat trick in international football, to go with his 24 at club level for Manchester United and Real Madrid, sparked jubilant scenes of celebration as Portugals coaching staff and substitutes spilled onto the pitch. That was possibly the last chance for the 32-year-old Ibrahimovic to play at a World Cup, but football fans will be thrilled that both Ronaldo and Frances Franck Ribery -- two of the favourites for this years Ballon dOr -- will be in Brazil. Ribery took a back seat on Tuesday as Benzema and, more surprisingly, central defender Sakho ushered 1998 world champion France to next years tournament. Didier Deschamps lifted the World Cup in the Stade de France 15 years ago in his finest moment as a player and this fightback, against a Ukraine lineup known for his doughty defence, probably tops his achievements as a coach. "Ive experienced some great moments but this one is special. Its fabulous," Deschamps said. France levelled the aggregate score at 2-2 by halftime through close-range goals by Sakho and the recalled Benzema before Ukraine was reduced to 10 men in the 47th when fullback Yevhen Khacheridi was red-carded for fouling Ribery. Worse was to follow for the visitors as substitute Oleg Gusev turned a driven cross into his own net under pressure from Sakho, putting the French through. "We took a big slap in Ukraine," Ribery said, "and we woke up." Croatia qualified for its fourth World Cup since becoming an independent state in 1991 and quashed Icelands hopes of reaching footballs showpiece tournament for the first time. Striker Dario Mandzukic scored in the 22nd minute to put Croatia ahead on aggregate but was given a red card nine minutes later for a reckless tackle. Iceland, whose population is only around 320,000, couldnt capitalize and Darijo Srnas 47th-minute goal sealed victory for the hosts. Zemgus Girgensons Jersey .I dont think it comes to mind in this business, in this game, the Philadelphia Flyers forward said. You dont try to lose games. Buffalo Sabres Jersey . -- David Freese is starting to pick up his run production, which is something the Los Angeles Angels have been waiting half a season to see.OAKLAND, Calif. -- During a players meeting following the All-Star break, Jermaine ONeal promised his teammates to play the rest of the regular season like he would never play again -- because he very well might not. The 18-year NBA veteran has backed up his words more than anybody ever expected. ONeal had season highs of 23 points and 13 rebounds to carry the load for an undermanned frontcourt, and the Golden State Warriors held off the Brooklyn Nets 93-86 Saturday night for their third straight victory since the break. "Whatever I have, Im going to leave it on the able. Ive said that quite a few times, but Im dead serious," said the 36-year-old ONeal, who missed extensive time following surgery on his wrist earlier this season. "You may have to wheel me out of here at the end of the season, but thats what Im going to do." With Andrew Bogut sidelined with a left shoulder injury and David Lee out with a stomach flu, ONeal followed up his game-saving block that preserved Golden States overtime victory against Houston on Thursday night with a vintage performance. ONeal shot 10 for 13 from the floor, and Draymond Green scored a career-best 18 points to go with 10 rebounds starting in Lees place. Stephen Curry banked in a big 3-pointer in the final minute to finish with 17 points, and the Warriors won three games in a row for the first time since the Nets ended their 10-game winning streak on Jan. 8 in Brooklyn -- crediting ONeal for leading the way in the locker room and on the court. "Hes getting an opportunity to put a stamp on what he says," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "Its no longer what he says, its what hes doing." The veteran Nets never matched the intensity. Deron Williams had 20 points and six assists, and Joe Johnson scored 15 points for Brooklyn, which struggled to shoot from 3-point range and was just as careless passing. Brooklyn made just 2 of 21 attempts from beyond the arc and committed 16 turnovers. "I thought we had a lot of good shots, they just didnt fall," said Nets forward Paul Pierce, who scored 11 points on 3-for-11 shooting. "Sometimes you live by the 3, you die by the 3. We should attack more, especially with them limited in their big men." The Nets made sure the game moved at a plodding pace untill the final minutes. Dmitry Kulikov Sabres Jersey. Johnson made an 18-foot fadeaway to tie the score at 84 with 2:22 remaining. Green followed with two free throws, then Andray Blatche converted a tying layup. ONeal drew a foul on the other end and hit two free throws -- getting another chance after missing his second attempt because of a hitch in his release that drew a lane violation -- to give Golden State an 88-86 lead. On Brooklyns next possession, Johnsons pass was deflected before hitting Williams hands and landing out of bounds. Curry quickly came back by banking in a 3-pointer to put the Warriors up 91-86 with 37 seconds remaining and put the game out of reach. The win moved the Warriors (34-22) a season-high 12 games over .500. They begin a six-game road trip -- all against Eastern Conference opponents -- at Detroit on Monday. Golden States smaller lineup gave the Nets fits from the start. Curry hit two 3-pointers during an 18-6 run to open the game. Brooklyns slow start compounded when Shaun Livingston left in the first quarter with a bruised tailbone after falling hard when he was fouled by Harrison Barnes going for a layup. The team said X-rays on Livingston were negative. Just like they did in Brooklyn, though, the Nets rallied from an early deficit against Golden States second unit. Brooklyn took the lead for the first time when Williams started a three-point play on a layup over Andre Iguodala, putting the Nets up 46-44 late in the second quarter. They never led again. "Even though we didnt shoot the ball extremely well from behind the arc, it was a game until the last minute," Nets coach Jason Kidd said. "On the road against a team like Golden State, thats all you can ask for." NOTES: Green said he was in an accident driving to the game, but that no one was injured. ... Nets G Marcus Thornton sat out with a stomach illness. He has yet to play since being traded from Sacramento on Wednesday for Jason Terry and Reggie Evans. ... Warriors coach Mark Jackson said Bogut, who missed his seventh straight game because of an ailing left shoulder, will likely return at some point during the Warriors six-game road trip. ... The Warriors signed C Hilton Armstrong to a 10-day contract, calling him from the teams NBA Development League affiliate in Santa Cruz. 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