thumbnail Hello,

WC Qualification Europe

  • October 16, 2012
  • • 20:45
  • • 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

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

Getty Images

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



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.


Players to watch

Cristiano Ronaldo

Position: Attacker

Games: 5

  • 11
  • 0
  • 0
All eyes will be on the Real Madrid man and there will be additional emphasis on Tuesday night, as the 27-year-old brings up a century of caps. He already has 37 strikes to his name for Portugal and with goals coming thick and fast at club level, few would back against him continuing that trend on the international stage.

R. Carroll

Position: Goalkeeper

Games: 0

  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
The Olympiakos goalkeeper is one of only a handful of Northern Ireland players with the experience of playing in high-profile encounters on the continent and his wise head will be key. A spate of injuries means it will be a makeshift side that takes to the field and Carroll could well be in for one of his busiest 90 minutes in recent times.

Editor's Prediction

Portugal will be desperate to return to winning ways and keep the pressure up on Group F leaders Russia and with the Northern Ireland squad depleted through injuries, Cristiano Ronaldo will fancy his chances of marking his 100th cap with at least a goal.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head


Northern Ireland


Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

Portugal PRT
Portugal Portugal
Northern Ireland NIR
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland

Top 3 Predictions

Portugal PRT
3 - 0
Northern Ireland NIR
Portugal PRT
4 - 0
Northern Ireland NIR
Portugal PRT
2 - 0
Northern Ireland NIR