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Portugal point sets standard for Norwood

OLIVER NORWOOD has called on Northern Ireland to maintain the spirit they showed against Portugal for the remainder of their World Cup qualifying campaign.

Tuesday night's 1-1 draw at Porto's Dragao Stadium represented one of the finest away trips in Northern Ireland's history, with Helder Postiga only denying them a famous win with a late equaliser.

Until then it was Niall McGinn who had stolen the limelight from Cristiano Ronaldo on the Portuguese forward's 100th cap, the Aberdeen winger putting his side ahead with a smart finish after 30 minutes.

Michael O'Neill's side were on the back foot for the majority of the match but defended bravely against opposition ranked third in the world and battled tirelessly as a team.

It was a big improvement on last month's 1-1 draw at home to Luxembourg and Huddersfield midfielder Norwood wants to use the performance as a benchmark for their next seven Group F matches.

"We knew this was going to be a tough group but we have got to capitalise on this result in the four home games we have coming up," he said. We came out, set our stall out and we've got to build on it now for the rest of the campaign because we've set the standard and we can't drop below that.


"We got a performance out of every single player and we ran our hearts out for each other."

As well as a hugely satisfying point, Norwood left Portugal with something else to treasure - Ronaldo's shirt. Norwood revealed the much sought-after memento came with a little help from a former Manchester United colleague.

"I still speak to Rio Ferdinand a bit and I got him to sort it out for me last week. He (Ronaldo) gave it to me in the tunnel after the game," he said.

Norwood's midfield partner and captain Steven Davis is a veteran of some big nights on the international stage, not least wins over England and Spain, and he rated the result as one of his best ever. "It's a big highlight for me, especially being away from home to a top team like Portugal," said the Southampton man.