Monday 11 December 2017

Top priority is stopping ‘goal machine’ Ronaldo, says Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill

NORTHERN Ireland manager Michael O'Neill hailed Cristiano Ronaldo as a "goal machine" ahead of tonight's World Cup qualifier against Portugal, then told his players they must find a way to stop him.

When Ronaldo steps out at the Dragao Stadium he will, at the age of only 27, become only the third Portuguese player to win 100 caps after Luis Figo and Fernando Couto.

After an unstoppable start to the season with Real Madrid, few would bet against him marking the occasion with a goal, or more, but O'Neill has been preparing his side for a week to play the role of spoilsports in Porto.

"We have to recognise the quality of the opposition but we are not sitting here just hoping for Ronaldo to have an off night, we have trained to this level in preparation," O'Neill said.

"It is our job to make sure they do have an off night and we can add to them having a frustrating night by taking our opportunity when it presents itself.

"We know what we are facing here. I think what Ronaldo has is he is a goal machine as well as creative, I have seen him numerous times, we know where the threat will come from."

The match kicks off at 8.45pm.

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