France celebrate their qualification for the 2014 World Cup. Photo: AFP/Getty images

France celebrate their qualification for the 2014 World Cup. Photo: AFP/Getty images

Cristiano Ronaldo’s second-half hat-trick booked Portugal’s place at next year’s World Cup finals after a thrilling 3-2 second-leg play-off victory against Sweden.

Ronaldo – whose first-leg header had given Portugal a narrow lead in the tie – scored on 50 minutes in Solna before Zlatan Ibrahimovic bagged a brace in four second-half minutes.

Ronaldo hit back with two more goals, though, to ensure the 4-2 aggregate win.

Elsewhere, France became the first side to overcome a two-goal deficit in a FIFA World Cup play-off as Didier Deschamps’ men thrashed 10-man Ukraine 3-0 in Paris.

Centre-back Mamadou Sakho scored his first international goal on 22 minutes before Karim Benzema levelled the tie from an offside position on 34 minutes – after having been wrongly denied by the flag earlier.

Yevhen Khacheridi was dismissed two minutes after the break as France completed a memorable comeback with Sakho’s 72nd-minute strike.

Meanwhile, Croatia ended Iceland’s World Cup dream with a 2-0 win in Zagreb.

After a goalless first leg, Mario Mandzukic struck for the home side on 27 minutes but was sent off for a challenge on Aron Gunnarsson 11 minutes later.

However, Captain Darijo Srna secured the victory for Croatia when he scored shortly after the break.

Lastly, Vassilis Torossidis’s 55th-minute own goal cancelled out Kostas Mitroglou’s first-half opener as Greece secured their World Cup spot with a 1-1 draw against Romania in Bucharest (4-2 aggregate).

 Vaishali

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