There were just three minutes to play in Faro when the Real Madrid superstar slotted home from inside the area to cancel out Kevin Strootman's first-half opener
Cristiano Ronaldo's late goal earned Portugal a 1-1 draw with Netherlands at the Estadio Algarve on Wednesday night, thus denying the Dutch a first win in the fixture since 1991.
The Real Madrid ace was on hand to finish from close range three minutes from time, cancelling out Kevin Strootman's first-half strike.
It had looked set to be a frustrating night for the hosts, but their reliable talisman grabbed a deserved leveller just when it seemed all hope was lost.
The most notable absentee from Louis Van Gaal's squad was Galatasaray playmaker Wesley Sneijder, who was recently stripped of the captaincy.
Bruno Martins was handed a start against the country of his birth, while there were also places for Ajen Robben, Robin van Persie and Rafael van der Vaart.
Portugal named a relatively strong side, with Ronaldo leading the line alongside Danny and Helder Postiga in a three-pronged attack, and it was the hosts who carved out the first opportunity of the game inside the opening three minutes.
Ronaldo rose to meet Ruben Amorim's teasing cross, but could only direct a tame header straight at Michel Vorm.
Despite a lively start from the home side, it was the Netherlands that drew first blood after 17 minutes. Jeremain Lens found his former PSV Eindhoven team-mate Strootman on the edge of the area and he sent a crashing drive past a despairing Beto at the near post.
Portugal continued to carry a threat and should have levelled just before the half-hour mark. Danny picked out Ruben Micael at the far post, only for the midfielder to direct his effort wide from 10 yards.
However, the hosts continued to press for an equaliser after the break and nearly made a breakthrough when Fabio Coentrao beat both Robben and Lens to the ball on the left-hand side before forcing Vorm to turn a stinging effort wide of the upright.
Netherlands offered little to trouble the Portuguese defence, with the usually talismanic Van Persie putting in a uncharacteristically quiet performance, which ended with him being substituted after just 58 minutes.
In contrast, Portuguese maestro Ronaldo put in a typically eye-catching display, and the former Manchester United forward was very nearly rewarded for his efforts after 63 minutes, forcing another good save from Vorm with a long-range strike.
Miguel Veloso hit the crossbar nine minutes later after some sloppy Dutch defending, leaving Paulo Bento wondering if it was not going be his side's night.
However, Ronaldo came to the rescue of the hosts with in the 87th minute, getting himself on the end of a deflected Veloso corner to give Portugal a deserved share of the spoils.