World Cup Qualifying: Portugal Suffers Disappointing Draw at Home

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistOctober 16, 2012

KHARKOV, UKRAINE - JUNE 17:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal reacts during the UEFA EURO 2012 group B match between Portugal and Netherlands at Metalist Stadium on June 17, 2012 in Kharkov, Ukraine.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

On a night of UEFA World Cup Qualifying that included two last-minute equalizers and a waterlogged pitch that sparked a postponement, the biggest storyline of the night came in Porto, Portugal.

Tuesday's match was supposed to be an easy win for Portugal over Northern Ireland in a match where the hosts were celebrating the 100th national team appearance by Cristiano Ronaldo.

However, it was another former Manchester United player that stole the spotlight at the Estadio do Dragao.

After Niall McGinn scored in the 30th minute for the visitors, the attention turned to goalkeeper Roy Carroll, who played for United for four seasons from 2001 until 2005. 

Carroll put in a spectacular effort in net and held Portugal goalless for 78 minutes until Helder Postiga scored an equalizer for the hosts.

Postiga's goal was the only one that the Portuguese could score on Tuesday night.

For the final minutes of the match, Northern Ireland defended with plenty of heart and were able to keep their opponents from finding the back of the net and earning a full three points.

Portugal attacked at will in the second half, especially after Postiga's equalizer, but numerous chances were sent wide of the net and they could not provide a late winner in front of the home crowd.

The draw effects Portugal the most in UEFA Group F as they sit in third place behind Russia—who they lost to on Friday—and Israel.

Although the Portuguese have the same amount of points as Israel, both have seven points, they are behind the second-place team on goal differential.

The two nations will play each other in Israel when their qualifying campaigns resume in March.

Northern Ireland still have one qualifying match left in Group F, they will host Azerbaijan on November 14th at Windsor Park in Belfast.

Currently, Northern Ireland sit fourth in the group with just two points, but a win over Azerbaijan could make things interesting, especially if Northern Ireland play with the same amount of effort against the other group favorites.

If Northern Ireland come out of their November match with anything less than a win, their qualifying hopes will be finished.

As for Portugal, they face a must-win situation when they play Israel and Russia next year to avoid further embarrassment.


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