| 13.5°C Dublin

Porto draw was a huge result for us - O'Neill

MICHAEL O'Neill watched his Northern Ireland side defy the odds to grind out a draw against Portugal, then declared: "I'm proud to be their manager."

O'Neill has yet to record a win after six matches in charge but there is no doubt that last night's 1-1 draw in Porto represented a major moment for the former Shamrock Rovers boss.

The visitors, 117th to Portugal's third in FIFA's world rankings, were starved of possession throughout but produced a spirited rearguard effort to go within 10 minutes of a famous win.

Niall McGinn put Northern Ireland in front with a cool finish on the half-hour, but Helder Postiga salvaged a point for the Seleccao from close range.

"I don't tend to get carried away and the main thing for me is that, regardless of the result, I was proud to stand there and be their manager," O'Neill said.

"That's because of what they gave to the cause and to each other. I'm hugely proud of the effort and what the players gave us. I think we saw a huge amount of character in this team. It's a huge result."

The evening started with a presentation for Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo to mark his 100th cap, and he was intent on celebrating with a goal.

The 27-year-old had numerous chances and saw plenty of the ball, but was shackled by a hard-working defence.

That O'Neill was able to leave the Dragao Stadium nursing a sense of disappointment at not ruining Ronaldo's big day with a shock win was remarkable.

"We're very disappointed only to draw but we recognised we would have to defend for our lives and that certainly proved to be the case, especially in the second half," O'Neill added.

"Having gone that far it was a bit of a blow (to concede). But we got what we deserved, simple as that, and I'm immensely proud of the players. There was nothing more I could ask from first to last."


Privacy