Ronaldo inspires Portugal ranking surge
By Football News
Portugal have surged up nine places to fifth in the latest FIFA world rankings, helped largely by Cristiano Ronaldo's play-off heroics.
The 28-year-old Real Madrid talisman scored all four of his side's goals in the 4-2 aggregate win over Sweden earlier this month that saw Portugal qualify for the 2014 World Cup in unforgettable style.
Ronaldo's hat-trick in the second leg in Solna proved the difference after Zlatan Ibrahimovic's brace had pulled Sweden level on aggregate with 18 minutes remaining.
Portugal's reward for beating Sweden as well as a World Cup place next year is a return to the top 10 along with tournament hosts Brazil, who are up one from 11th courtesy of friendly wins against Honduras and Chile, the former of which saw the hosts defeated 5-0.
Italy are also on the move, up one place to seventh, despite drawing their last four games.
Belgium are down six places to 11th following back-to-back defeats against Colombia and Japan, with England now 13th after Chile and Germany both emerged victorious from recent friendlies at Wembley.
Ukraine, France and Mexico are three more upwardly-mobile nations in the rankings and are 18th, 19th and 20th respectively.