Portugal 1-1 Northern Ireland

O'Neill beams after Portugal point

October 16, 2012
By ESPN staff

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill hailed his side's "huge result" as they claimed a 1-1 draw against Portugal in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday night.

Northern Ireland fans v Portugal
PA PhotosNorthern Ireland launch into song during their nation's meeting with Portugal

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The Northern Irish secured their second point of their qualifying campaign after Niall McGinn handed them a shock lead at the Estadio do Dragao.

Helder Postiga netted a leveller for Portugal on 79 minutes to deny the visitors a famous win, but O'Neill remained proud of his players' efforts.

"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."

Northern Ireland are currently fourth in Group F having garnered two points from their opening three matches.

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

"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.

"I've told the players what I felt about their performance in the dressing room and that's all that matters to me.

"It's up to other people where they want to rank that in history or in terms of benchmarking that performance."