Ronaldo hat-trick hammers NI

Cristiano Ronaldo notched a hat-trick as Portugal came from behind to beat Northern Ireland 4-2 in their Group F qualifier at Windsor Park.

Last Updated: 07/09/13 at 17:14 Post Comment

Cristiano Ronaldo: Notched a hat-trick for Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo: Notched a hat-trick for Portugal

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

Bruno Alves put the visitors ahead on 21 minutes with a volley following Joao Moutinho's corner but Gareth McAuley headed NI level 15 minutes later from a Shane Ferguson corner.

Helder Postiga was then sent off just before the break and the hosts made Portugal pay when Jamie Ward scored from a corner soon after the restart.

But Chris Brunt was sent off for a second bookable offence and Portugal took advantage, with Ronaldo heading home goals on 68 and 77 minutes.

Substitute Kyle Lafferty was also given his marching orders on 80 minutes for a late challenge and Ronaldo completed his hat-trick three minutes later to make sure of the points and send his side back to the top of Group F, while NI remain in fourth.

Ronaldo, playing for the first time since Gareth Bale replaced him as the world's most expensive player, overtook Eusebio as his country's second-highest goalscorer on the night and now has 43 for Portugal.

Injuries to Aaron Hughes, Craig Cathcart and Ryan McGivern, as well as Daniel Lafferty's suspension, had left NI boss Michael O'Neill with limited options at full-back and MK Dons right-back Lee Hodson was handed the toughest task of his career in marking Ronaldo.

Early touches

Ronaldo's early touches were roundly booed by the crowd, though it was hard not to admire a wonderful piece of trickery that saw him nutmeg fellow captain Steven Davis.

The first attempt on goal took 16 minutes, Alves heading Moutinho's free-kick just wide. The same pairing combined to better effect five minutes later, Moutinho's corner cleared to the edge of the area and Alves sending a soft cushioned volley through the crowd of bodies and into the bottom corner.

But the hosts came back into the game and their pressure paid dividends in the 36th minute, with McAuley heading his side level.

It came from the likeliest source - a Ferguson corner - but the execution from the West Brom defender was superb. He rose highest in a packed box and angled his header deftly towards the far post.

The buoyant home fans then had more to cheer just before the break as Postiga aimed an apparent headbutt in the direction of McAuley and was shown a straight red card.

Ronaldo was furious but received a caution of his own for dissent.

McAuley was having the night of his life and almost made it even more remarkable shortly after the restart.

Picking up the ball just inside the Portugal area he spotted Rui Patricio off his line and sent a deft lob a yard over the crossbar from long distance. It was an audacious moment even Ronaldo might have smiled at.

No surprise

It was no surprise when Northern Ireland scored their second from another corner.

Ferguson was again the provider, whipping the ball into the danger area and finding Jonny Evans. His header was on target but Ward, effectively man-marking the goalkeeper, managed to scramble home from point-blank range. There were appeals for offside, but the goal stood.

The lead was less than 10 minutes old when Brunt's dismissal made it an even playing field, a clumsy challenge on Joao Pereira earning his second yellow.

The equaliser arrived from Moutinho's 68th minute corner. Ronaldo shook off the attentions of substitute Lafferty to power his header past Carroll and go level with Eusebio on 41.

There was even more elation from the away contingent after 77 minutes, when Fabio Coentrao's hanging cross picked out Ronaldo at the far post. He was, unforgiveably, unmarked and headed emphatically into the corner from close range.

Lafferty was next for an early bath, a senseless lunge at Pereira his sin, and the stage was set for Ronaldo.

He rifled home an 83rd-minute free-kick to secure the match ball and leave Bale with a timely reminder of the standards expected from the best in the world.

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

W

inners: F365 for not getting so caught up in transfer deadline day, for getting rid of the ridiculous live blog and for having jobs where all they do is talk about football.

man of ire
Transfer Window Winners & Losers...

P

ictorially, this would be represented by a rotund lady, arms folded screaming, ' you been told, stay away from my man'.

mufc phil
United respond on De Gea

T

his should end the myth that only English players are over priced

cookie_monster
United wrap up surprise Martial deal

Footer 365

Mark Noble's red card received against Liverpool last weekend has been rescinded

West Ham have been charged by the FA with failing to control their players following Mark Noble's dismissal at Liverpool.

Harry Redknapp blasts 'bang average' Liverpool

Harry Redknapp has criticised the current Liverpool side, claiming they are "bang average" and are "lucky to have any points" so far this season.

Tottenham fans seek explanation from club over transfers

The Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust has asked for a "credible explanation" from Spurs in regards to their summer transfer dealings.

Mail Box

Wenger Too Embedded In Arsenal For Title Challenge

That's one Mailboxer's view. Also: Liverpool have a better squad than Man United for the first time since 1990, we get more 'Over The Hill XIs', and someone reveals a secret footballing love...

Man United Had A Great Transfer Window...

...but West Ham had the best. It's a busy Mailbox chock-full of Arsenal, obsolete transfer fees and Michael Hector: The cheese string trying to play football.

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company