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October 16, 2012
• Estádio Do Dragão, Porto
Referee: T. Kinhöfer
• Attendance: 48711
Hélder Postiga 79'
N. McGinn 30'
That's it from us. Keep the comments coming and check back next time for more live updates from Goal.com.
As for Ronaldo, it was supposed to be his night, but it really wasn't. He had his usual high shot-count, but he barely tested Carroll in truth, and he could not exert his usual influence over proceedings.
Paulo Bento might be worried about his job now. It's easy to throw about suggestions after poor performances, but Ronaldo got them as far as they did at the Euros, and they now look underdogs to qualify for the World Cup after a terrible couple of results.
But what can you say about Northern Ireland? It was a great performance from Michael O'Neill's side, who were without nine players for this match. Jonny Evans was a rock at the back, but everybody played their part and they almost snatched a famous - and deserved - victory.
It has been a disastrous couple of games for Portugal. Following defeat to Russia on Friday, they have dropped a further two points here.
And that's it! Northern Ireland hold on for a terrific point, and it is certainly no less than they deserve.
90' + 4'
Oooooh! The flag was up to deny Northern Ireland after Nani had given the ball away in his own half.
90' + 1'
How did that stay out?! Eder has the ball nicked off his toe by Jonny Evans from six yards out!
There are to be five minutes added on here!
And now Nani smashed a dipping, curling effort inches over the crossbar from 25 yards. Can Portugal nick this?
Portugal are piling forward now and Varela smashes a shot into the side netting. Carroll makes the save, but a goal kick is given.
Portugal football expert, Stephen Gillett, from Estadio do Dragao: It was coming. The introduction of Eder has given Paulo Bento's men more options up front - and to credit Postiga, the Zaragoza man put his miserable evening to that point behind him to swivel excellently before planting home the equaliser.
Yellow Card Aaron Hughes
Northern Ireland are being tempted forward here, trying to score a winner. Of course, Portugal are finding spaces higher up the pitch now, so we're in for an extremely open last few minutes.
Yellow Card Pepe
Goal Hélder Postiga
GOAAALLLLL! But they do level! Postiga goes one better still and fires in the equaliser on the turn after a brief scramble.
And Postiga does do better, but his low shot is beaten away by Carroll down to his right.
Postiga's shot from 25 yards is snaffled up by Carroll. Portugal are going to have to do better than this.
It's another attacking change from Bento as Eder replaces right-back Pereira.
Pepe did well to create that; the controversial defender won the ball well and played a precise ball forward to his club-mate.
Ronaldo is snuffed out by Aaron Hughes, who gets back to make the block as the Real Madrid man set his sights on an equaliser.
Portugal are giving the ball away so often here, and deep inside their own half too. The Northern Irish lads are putting in some shift here, it has to be said.
Amateur psychology time now: Paulo Bento looks powerles now; sat on his bench, half in amazement that his team didn't get a free kick, half clueless as to what his side can do to draw level.
Portugal football expert, Stephen Gillett, from Estadio do Dragao: The hosts have lifted the tempo a bit here and you feel we're in the guts of this encounter: Portugal could level now and turn this round...or Northern ireland could ride out the storm and record a monumental result.
Northern Ireland are hanging on here now. Pepe's cross is almost scooped over Carroll via Davis' lazy attempt at a clearance. That came just moments after Carroll managed to keep out Amorim's well-struck effort.
Nani skips to the byline but his low cross evades everybody - including Ronaldo, who was waiting for a tap-in from two yards.
Bento is going for it here; Micael is replaced by Varela, who looked bright for Portugal at Euro 2012.
Ronaldo goes closer this time but Carroll diverts his half-volley away with his left foot. Good reflexes there.
Ronaldo fires off a shot from 30 yards but it's blocked by, you guessed it, Jonny Evans.
Portugal try to break as Northern Ireland's corner comes to nothing, but Patricio's long ball forward is wasteful. It's getting desperate for the Seleccao now as Pepe goes down holding his face.
Ronaldo's cross is easily gathered by Carroll as Portugal continue to falter in attack. He's on the ball again here, but loses it just as quickly. Not his night so far.
Micael flashes an effort just over the bar from 25 yards. Roy Carroll wasn't getting that one.
Portugal football expert, Stephen Gillett, from Estadio do Dragao: The only question is: can Northern Ireland sustain this level of performance defensively? McGivern at right-back is already looking a bit leggy and I can see chances (penalties??) for Portugal from wide areas in this second half.
Here we go again for the second half, and Portugal are back on the attack straight away.
It was also McGinn's first goal for his country. Who said international football was boring?
McGinn's goal is the first Portugal have conceded in seven home qualifying matches. Incredible!
And that's it for the first half! Northern Ireland go in 1-0 up thanks to Nial McGinn's goal on the counterattack.
One minute of added time is signalled as Pereira's looping cross evades Ronaldo at the back post.
Nani's corner is easily fielded by Carroll. Paulo Bento looks unfazed here, but he probably should be.
Jonny Evans has been brilliant so far tonight. Ronaldo, on the other hand, has not.
Ronaldo goes dancing down the line but McGivern is in place, yet again, to block the cross.
Pereira now curls one wide with the outside of his boot. Portugal still look shaky at the back, though.
And now Cathcart nearly turns into his own goal! He cannot get out of the way quickly enough and the ball cannons off him and crashes back off the crossbar.
Portugal football expert, Stephen Gillett, from Estadio do Dragao: Playing his football in Aberdeen, McGinn must feel at home here at the moment: it's still bucketing down. The Portuguese are still getting in good positions, but looking a bit clueless when they get there.
Aaron Hughes almost heads into his own net, but the ball goes wide and a goal kick is awarded. Much to Ronaldo's fury.
Portugal football expert, Stephen Gillett, from Estadio do Dragao: What a goal! Great move - lovely through-ball from Lafferty and a hell of a finish from McGinn. The stadium's gone a bit quiet!
Assist Kyle Lafferty
Goal Niall McGinn
Jonny Evans starts the counterattack, Kyle Lafferty advances on the defence and picks out Nial McGinn, who is free on the left, to take a touch and fire into the net. Michael O'Neill's side are 1-0 in Porto and the away fans are going wild.
NO WAY! Northern Ireland go 1-0 up!
Roy Carroll tips Nani's looping header over the crossbar, but Bruno Alves fouls Ryan McGivern from the resulting corner and play is stopped again.
Ronaldo blasts a cross-shot across goal, but it bounces off a defender and away to safety. He's going to have a few shots tonight, is Ronaldo.
At the other end, Nani's cross from the corner of the box is too high for Ronaldo and the ball runs out for a throw-in.
It was on target, but Patricio was equal to the effort.
Norwood, a free kick specialist, is weighing up a 25-yard free kick here.
Portugal football expert, Stephen Gillett, from Estadio do Dragao: Ronaldo already seems to have tired of the wing and has marauded infield in search of the ball a few times now. Portugal's right flank - with Nani - is definitely the more dangerous at present; they're getting in good positions without finding a final ball.
As much as it is encouraging for Northern Ireland to get forward, they won't want to get caught out at the back. Nani had an opportunity to put in a good ball there on the counter, but his low cross was cleared away for a corner. Pepe heads the delivery over the bar, and the dangers passes for now.
The visitors worked a good overlap there but Aaron Hughes' low cross was well held by Patricio.
Lafferty thought he had won a free kick near the Portugal goal there, but the referee's assistant was having none of it.
Ronaldo loses his man on the left with a quick turn, but his whipped cross is headed away by Nial McGinn.
Oliver Norwood's centre is headed away for another corner, but Jonny Evans can only nod it wide of the post and Portugal come forward quickly.
But the visitors are not scared of a counterattack, and they've won a corner - their second of the game.
The game has settled into a rhythm now; Portugal will build up play slowly from the back while Northern Ireland sit deep and hold on.
Moutinho tries to clip one over the top for Helder Postiga - yes, he's still playing - but the ball skids away off the slippery surface.
Portugal have had a couple of shots so far, but they have looked pretty shaky at the back already. There might be some joy for the visitors if they can deploy a direct game.
Ronaldo fires a shot wide from 20 yards. Northern Ireland keeper Roy Carroll had that well covered.
Awful stuff there from Pepe! He throws the ball back to his keeper, but with an advancing Northern Irishman, Patricio can only put it straight out of play for a corner.
Ronaldo was stretching his shoulder there, so it seems he hasn't recovered fully from the injury he picked up in the Clasico.
Portugal football expert, Stephen Gillett, from Estadio do Dragao: Ronaldo could do with keeping on the 100th cap he's just been awarded - it's still raining pretty incessantly here. The playing surface should be really slick - which should suit the Portuguese.
Postiga almost gets on the end of Miguel Lopes' shot, but the ball just flashes wide of the post.
And we're off, and it's Northern Ireland who are on the attack early on.
Ronaldo has just been presented with his 100th cap on the pitch, and we're just about ready to get this show on the road.
Portugal football expert, Stephen Gillett, from Estadio do Dragao: The rain is doing little to dampen the enthusiasm of the Northern Irish fans, who look to be having a whale of a time. Will they be as happy come 90 minutes? A point or better tonight would be incredible given their injuries and the standard of their opposition.
We're currently listening to the Northern Ireland national anthem as the rain pours down in Porto.
Portugal football expert, Stephen Gillett, from Estadio do Dragao: The pitch here at the Dragao looks like a carpet and there's a very enthusiastic MC whipping the crowd up. A good few Northern Irish fans have made it over and they're also in good voice. This was always going to be a big game for Michael O'Neill's side, but with the raft of injuries they've suffered and the Ronaldo 100-cap circus in town, it's been ramped up another notch. This will be the biggest games of their careers (thus far) for some of the Northern Irish lads.
And here is the Northern Ireland starting XI as they look to spring a surprise: Carroll, McGivern, Cathcart, Evans, Baird, Davis (C), Lafferty, Evans, McGinn, Norwood, Hughes
To keep the flood of information coming, here is the Portugal line-up for the game: Patricio, Alves, Pepe, Veloso, Ronaldo (C), Moutinho, Micael, Nani, Lopes, Pereira, Postiga.
If you'd like to kill some time before kick-off, then feast your eyes on this slideshow of Ronaldo's 10 defining moments in a Portugal shirt http://www.goal.com/en/slideshow/703 (try not to get dragged into the Ronaldo vs Messi debate at the bottom).
Of course, it's Cristiano Ronaldo's 100th appearance for the Seleccao tonight, and he becomes the youngest player in the country's history to reach that milestone.
Good evening everybody! It's Portugal versus Northern Ireland at the Estadio do Dragao for us tonight, and I'll be talking you through all the action.
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