Portugal vs. Northern Ireland: Final score 1-1, Northern Ireland holds on for the draw

Laurence Griffiths - Getty Images

Hélder Postiga scored with 10 minutes left in the match to salvage a point against a defensively stubborn Northern Ireland who had taken the lead in the first half thanks to great goal from Niall McGinn.

If you asked Northern Ireland before the match if a point would feel like a win, they would have likely agreed. However, after leading with 10 minutes left before allowing Portugal to equalize, the point may be just a little less sweet. Still it's a massive result for Northern Ireland and a disappointing one for Portugal.

Niall McGinn gave Northern Ireland a surprise, but not all together undeserved, lead in the 30th minute. Jonny Evans started the break for Northern Ireland and Kyle Lafferty made the final pass to McGinn who'd gotten behind the Portuguese defense before beating Rui Patricio with a great shot over his shoulder and in to the net. Northern Ireland defended like crazy the rest of the half and took advantage of Portugal's less than lethal finishing to go in to the halftime break up 1-0.

Portugal poured on the pressure in the second half, as you would expect, peppering the Northern Ireland goal and forcing several great saves from Roy Carroll. Basically, Northern Ireland parked a really big bus in front of their goal and threw away the keys.

The rain and slippery pitch didn't help Northern Ireland either. Steven Davis slipped during a clearance close to his goal in the 63rd minute and just put the ball over the crossbar, nearly letting Portugal equalize on an own goal. Despite the near relentless pressure from Portugal, Northern Ireland used a combination of excellent defensive work and Portugal's own issues with final passes and errant shots, to hold on to their lead.

Unfortunately, the equalizer was inevitable and it finally came in the 80th minute. A long cross-field pass that was headed in to the box and mis-hit by Nani, but the ball went right to Hélder Postiga who poked the ball in to the net as he fell to the ground.

Portugal came extremely close in the final minutes, including a razor thin miss in stoppage time by Antonio Eder that was pushed just wide of the far post by Carroll.

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