WCQ: CR7 surpasses Eusobio, moves within Pauleta’s record

In Belfast, Portugal were in serious danger of being knocked off the top of Group F, after second-placed Russia had earlier thumped Luxembourg 4-1, as they found themselves trailing 2-1 to Northern Ireland.

Their hosts had previous form for upsets having stunned Russia 1-0 last month and it looked like they were heading for another when Portugal’s Helder Postiga was shown a straight red card for a headbutt on Gareth McAuley just before halftime.

Northern Ireland, already out of qualifying contention, made the man advantage count early in the second half when Jamie Ward scored after a corner but Portugal’s fortunes turned when Kevin Brunt was shown a second yellow to make it 10 against 10.

Then followed 15 minutes of trademark Ronaldo brilliance as he headed in two goals and scored another from a free kick to turn the match around and put Portugal on 17 points from eight games with Russia on 15 having played one game fewer.

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