Cristiano Ronaldo is the new favourite for the FIFA Ballon d'Or after his hat-trick fired Portugal to the World Cup finals.
Having destroyed Sweden in Solna to guide his side to Brazil, the extension to the Ballon d'Or vote to November 29 plays to the advantage of the Real Madrid star who has scored 32 goals in 20 games this season, including five hat-tricks. During the calendar year, he has scored 66 goals in 55 games.
And following his display in the play-off second leg, punters instantly reacted with an avalanche of bets on Ronaldo to win the award, prompting his odds with Sky Bet to plummet from 6/4 to 4/9, replacing Franck Ribery at the head of the market.
The surge in interest has left Ronaldo with more than double the stakes of his main rival for the accolade, while Lionel Messi's odds have drifted out to 8/1.
Before nominations close, Ronaldo may well improve his statistics further, but what he will be unable to do is deliver a trophy and that is his Achilles heel when it comes to beating Messi and Champions League winner Ribery to the Ballon d'Or.
But the Portuguese skipper has given his country a fighting chance of success in Brazil next summer after scoring all four goals over the two legs as they beat the Swedes 4-2.
Ronaldo celebrated in style after the triumph in Sweden but insists his celebrations were not aimed at FIFA president Sepp Blatter following recent comments he made about the Real star. Blatter was swift to congratulate Paulo Bento's team and Ronaldo via Twitter within minutes of their qualification for Brazil.
"I don't have to respond to anyone, my answers are given on the pitch," Ronaldo said.
He also insists he is not focused on recapturing the accolade he won in 2008, adding: "I do not live my life obsessed with titles and do not have to show anything to anyone, because I have shown my worth, I've done 40/50 goals every season and it is not within the reach of anyone. I know what I am."
FIFA confirmed that the date for Ballon d'Or nominations has been put back due to a low number of responses, while those who have submitted can change their mind. The prize itself will be presented in Zurich on January 13.
"Due to a low number of responses from coaches and captains of the national teams as well as media representatives and in order to ensure a representative number of votes Fifa and France Football have extended the deadline for the voting until 29 November 2013," a spokesperson said.
"Member Associations and media representatives who had been invited to vote on the above mentioned awards have been informed accordingly."
On the game in Solna, Ronaldo admits there were some nerves when Sweden took the lead on the night thanks to a brace from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
"We let Sweden grow in confidence and we retreated and suffered but that's part of the spectacle of football. We reacted well and we ended up winning," he admitted.
"I do not compete against Zlatan, he is a fantastic player and biggest star in Sweden, but I do not compete against him. I play for my team."
Ronaldo is now on target to become Portugal's top scorer of all time after levelling Pauleta's 47-mark.
"I always said that the records are to be beaten, but I was not thinking about it, I was just focused on winning this game.
"We are now equal and we will see what happens in the future."
Who should win the Ballon d'Or?