NORTHERN IRELAND 1
NORTHERN Ireland produced a defiant defensive display to secure an equally surprising and impressive point in their World Cup qualifier away to Portugal.
Niall McGinn chipped Michael O’Neill’s team ahead after 30 minutes before Helder Postiga’s equaliser 10 minutes from time rescued the home side from an embarrassing defeat. Northern Ireland now have two points from three games but with a game in hand on those above them, victory could bring them to within two points of both Israel and Portugal who are tied in second with seven.
The Portuguese – featuring some of Europe’s most decorated players in Ronaldo, Pepe and Nani – dominated the vast majority of the game but the visitors, and in particular Manchester United’s Jonny Evans, defended stubbornly and resolutely to ensure that they remained in the game.
It was Evans and Kyle Lafferty who combined for McGinn’s opener but though Craig Cathcart almost scored an own goal, and Ronaldo, Postiga and Ruben Micael all went close against a side with just one win in their last 18, it wasn’t until Postiga’s well-placed equaliser that the game changed.