Hélder Postiga provided relief for Portugal in FIFA World Cup qualifying Group F, slamming away a 79th-minute equaliser to deny Northern Ireland an implausible victory in Porto.
Soggy conditions seemed to suit a side used to playing in rainy Belfast, and Northern Ireland had already unsettled their hosts on a few occasions when, on the half-hour, a swift foray saw Jonny Evans and Kyle Lafferty send Niall McGinn sprinting free – the Aberdeen FC winger took a touch before clipping the ball over Rui Patrício. However, while Roy Carroll's goal led something of a charmed life, Postiga broke the spell with a fine finish on the turn in the closing stages.
For all of their attacking possession after going behind, Portugal's most potent attacking force was the Northern Ireland defence. Aaron Hughes powered one header just wide of his own goal from a corner, while Craig Cathcart smashed another ball in from the right against the crossbar, but Northern Ireland could be proud of their rearguard ardour as time ticked on, and their luck appeared to be in.
Carroll shot out a foot to block a Cristiano Ronaldo strike just before the hour, and while captain Steven Davies was relieved to see his slice dip over the crossbar, Northern Ireland fought valiantly to keep their goal intact. Hughes took the ball off Ronaldo's toes, and Carroll twice made saves from Postiga, but the Real Zaragoza CF forward made no mistake when a ball from the left came his way, twisting five metres from goal before firing low into the net.
Silvestre Varela and Nani might have won it with efforts from range late on, but the draw was the least Michael O'Neill's men deserved.