Pic: Ronaldo was that good last night, even Zlatan felt the need to applaud 7 years ago

Pic: Ronaldo was that good last night, even Zlatan felt the need to applaud

It was a helluva battle between two of the best players in the world last night, but one man emerged as the clear winner and the defeated Zlatan had no problem acknowledging it either.

Although it may have been in the best intentions of most Irish fans to try and watch the fairly uneventful 0-0 draw with Poland in Poznan last night, the attention of most football fans soon turned to what was a thrilling encounter between Sweden and Portugal in the second leg of their World Cup play-off.

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It had been billed as a battle between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo and boy did it live up to that billing with the two of them accounting for all five goals in a 3-2 win for Portugal that sealed their passage to Brazil next summer.

Although he did his best to inspire his side, Zlatan couldn’t do much about Ronaldo’s phenomenal performance and the respect he has for him shone through when he felt the need to applaud his opponent following the completion of his hat-trick which sealed the fate of both sides.

A fitting act of sportsmanship from one great player to another and a worthy tribute to what truly was a phenomenal performance.

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Respect.