Northern Ireland hold Portugal
By Peter ORourke
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Northern Ireland picked up a morale-boosting 1-1 draw with World Cup-bound Portugal.Northern Ireland picked up a morale-boosting 1-1 draw with World Cup-bound Portugal at Windsor Park.
Warren Feeney's second half goal cancelled out Stephen Craigan unfortunate own-goal in the first half to earn Northern Ireland a draw.
The result was the perfect way for Lawrie Sanchez end the year, while for Portugal boss Luis Felipe Scolari the draw was not the best preparation for next summer's finals in Germany.
Portugal started brightly with Armando Petit stinging the palms of Maik Taylor on eight minutes and two minutes later, Taylor produced a smart save to tip over Tiago's powerful shot from the edge of the area.
The visitors went close to breaking the deadlock on 19 minutes when Costinha saw his header from Cristiano Ronaldo's corner brilliantly kept out by Taylor.
Northern Ireland were struggling to create any goalscoring opportunities, as Portugal dominated possession.
Portugal midfielder Petit was not shy of having a shot and he forced Taylor into another good save on 33 minutes and the keeper had to be alert, as Pauleta tried to get onto the rebound from Petit's initial shot.
The home side tried to put Portugal under some pressure and Warren Feeney and Chris Brunt both saw shots blocked.
Portugal finally made the breakthrough on 41 minutes when the unlucky Craigan put through his own net.
Tiago worked a clever free kick with Ronaldo and he whipped in a dangerous cross which Craigan deflected into his own net past Taylor.
Northern Ireland should have drawn level on 44 minutes when Stuart Elliott picked out Steve Jones unmarked at the far post, but the Crewe Alexandra striker headed straight at Jorge Paulo Santos.
Portugal thought they had doubled the lead on the stroke of half time when Pauleta found the net, but his strike was disallowed for offside.
Northern Ireland stunned Portugal on 54 minutes when Feeney drew Sanchez's men level with his second goal for his country.
The Luton Town striker got ahead of his marker to superbly flick Keith Gillespie's free kick over Paulo Santos and into the net.The visitors almost restored their lead two minutes later when Nuno Gomes was played through on goal, but Northern Ireland captain Taylor was quickly off his line to smother the substitute's shot.
Portugal pushed forward in numbers in a bid to find a second goal, but Northern Ireland defended heroically to keep the visitors at bay.
Chelsea defender Ricardo Carvalho had the best chance to grab a winner eight minutes from time when Helder Postiga headed back into the defender's path in front of goal, but he hit his shot wide of the target.Elsewhere on Tuesday Cameroon were held to a goalless draw by Morocco in their international friendly.
|Northern Ireland||Team Statistics||Portugal|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|2||Shots on Target||6|
|1||Shots off Target||8|