Portugal Earn 2018 World Cup Bid with 2-0 Win over Switzerland in Qualifier

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistOctober 10, 2017

LISBON, PORTUGAL - OCTOBER 10: Portugal player celebrates after scores the second goal against Switzerland during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Portugal and Switzerland at the Luz Stadium on October 10, 2017 in Lisbon, Lisboa. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)
Octavio Passos/Getty Images

Soccer fans around the globe can breathe easy—the 2018 World Cup in Russia won't be without arguably the game's greatest player, Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Ronaldo and Portugal clinched an automatic berth in next year's World Cup with a 2-0 win over Switzerland on Tuesday. Johan Djourou's own goal late in the first half and Andre Silva's goal early in the second booked Portugal's ticket to Russia.

Switzerland, meanwhile, still have an opportunity to reach the World Cup, though they'll the need to go through Europe's playoff round to secure a berth.

Ronaldo himself was largely quiet in the win, with his best chance coming late in the match on a breakaway opportunity that Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer smothered before Ronaldo could pull the trigger on his shot.

Instead, Portugal called upon their supporting cast to win the dayand a bit of luck as well. 

The first goal was largely the result of Eliseu's tantalizing cross into the box that perfectly landed between Sommer and the Swiss defense. Djourou's sliding attempt to clear the ball out of danger instead resulted in the Swiss defender redirecting the ball into the back of the net.

Portugal didn't rely on luck for the game's second tally, however. Joao Moutinho started the move with a lovely through ball to Bernardo Silva down the right side of the box. His low cross found Andre Silva, who gathered the ball before slotting home the game's second goal. 

The Silva pairing has proved to be crucial for the Portuguese: 

The win shouldn't have come as a major surprise—Portugal have been red-hot in qualifying, per Squawka Football: 

The result left Portugal and Switzerland tied atop Group B at 27 points. Portugal's advantage in goal differential served as the tiebreaker, however, securing their automatic berth to next year's World Cup.

And so Ronaldo is in. That's good for the sport, as football pundit Gary Lineker noted, especially if another superstar doesn't reach Russia:

Switzerland will now go into the playoff round alongside Italy, Croatia, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, the Republic of Ireland and Greece. Those teams will be re-seeded when FIFA's rankings are released later in October, with the top four seeds placed in Pot 1 and the next four placed in Pot 2. Each of the four matchups will have a team from Pot 1 facing a team from Pot 2.

The four winners of those home-and-away series, which will be played in November, advance to Russia.

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