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October 17, 2012 1:15 AM IST
Estádio Do Dragão — Porto
Referee:‬ T. Kinhöfer‎
Attendance:‬ 48711‎

Portugal - Northern Ireland Preview: Ronaldo looks to mark 100th cap with a return to winning ways

The Real Madrid winger will bring up a century of appearances for his country on Tuesday evening as Paulo Bento's side aim to bounce back from a disappointing defeat to Russia

By Alec Fenn

Cristiano Ronaldo, Luxembourg-Portugal (WCQ)
Getty Images


Pereira, Pepe, Alves, Lopes

Nani, Moutinho, Veloso, Micael, Ronaldo


Hughes, McGivern, McAuley, Cathcart

Evans, Baird, Davis, McCourt

On paper there will be very few punters tipping Northern Ireland to pull off a shock win over Portugal on their betting slips on Tuesday night.

But with A Seleccao slipping to a 1-0 defeat to Russia last Friday there can surely be no better time to face Paulo Bento’s side and spoil Cristiano Ronaldo’s 100th cap celebrations.

That defeat leaves Portugal second in Group F, while a 1-1 draw with Luxembourg saw Northern Ireland pick up their first point in qualification and lift them into fourth spot by virtue of goal difference.

You have to go back to 2005 for the last time the two sides met and on that occasion an own goal from Stephen Craigan and a Warren Feeney strike meant both sides took a share of the spoils.

A repeat of that result would seem unlikely with the Green and Whites on a miserable run of one win in their last 10 games, but having inflicted a jaw-dropping 3-2 victory over Portugal’s great Iberian rivals Spain five years ago, it would be foolish to write off Michael O’Neill’s side before a ball has been kicked.

Fabio Coentrao misses the game with a groin injury, while Alex Bruce and Grant McCann have pulled out of the Northern Ireland squad with groin and knee injuries respectively, adding to a lengthy injury list which also includes Joe Dudgeon, Shane Ferguson, Martin Paterson, James McPake and Chris Brunt.

  • Cristiano Ronaldo is set to win his 100th cap for Portugal at just 27-years-old.
  • Paulo Bento's side currently sit in second spot in Group F with six points from their opening three World Cup 2014 qualifiers.

  • Portugal have scored 40 per cent of their goals in qualification between the 75th and 90th minute.
  • Northern Ireland have one just one in their last 10 matches - a 2-0 victory over the Faroe Islands in August 2011.

  • David Healy is Northern Ireland's all-time leading goalscorer with 35 goals in 93 appearances.

  • Michael O'Neill is still searching for his first victory in charge of the Green and Whites, since taking over in December 2011.


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World Cup Qualification - Europe ‎(WCQE)‎ 07-Sep-2013 Northern Ireland 2 - Portugal 4
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World Cup Qualification - Europe ‎(WCQE)‎ 17-Oct-2012 Portugal 1 - Northern Ireland 1
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Last Five Matches
Team News
Available Squads
12Rui PatricioGoalkeeper
2Bruno AlvesDefender
21João PereiraDefender
19Miguel LopesDefender
8Joao MoutinhoMidfielder
4Miguel VelosoMidfielder
15Rubén MicaelMidfielder
7Cristiano RonaldoStriker
23Hélder PostigaStriker
-Ruben AmorimMidfielder
-Nélson Oliveira
18Silvestre VarelaStriker
25Roy CarrollGoalkeeper
18Aaron HughesDefender
5Chris BairdDefender
3Craig CathcartDefender
-Jonny EvansDefender
23Ryan McGivernDefender
8Corry EvansMidfielder
7Niall McGinnMidfielder
14Oliver NorwoodMidfielder
6Steven DavisMidfielder
14Kyle LaffertyStriker
12Alan MannusGoalkeeper
-Michael McGovernGoalkeeper
-Daniel LaffertyDefender
17Lee HodsonDefender
2Rory McArdleDefender
-Josh CarsonMidfielder
11Paddy McCourtMidfielder
-David Healy
-Dean ShielsStriker
-William GriggStriker
Group A Matchday 4
Times In IST
Top Scorers
Player   Goals Penalties
Robin van Persie Robin van Persie
Man. United
11 2
Edin Dzeko Edin Dzeko
Manchester City
10 0
Mesut Özil Mesut Özil
8 3
Zlatan Ibrahimovic Zlatan Ibrahimovic
8 1
Cristiano Ronaldo Cristiano Ronaldo
Real Madrid
8 0