Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Niall McGinn 'over the moon' at goal against Portugal

Northern ireland's Niall McGinn celebrates with team mate Kyle Lafferty (centre) after scoring during the World Cup Group F Qualifying match at the Estadio do Dragao, Porto, Portugal.

Northern Ireland goalscorer Niall McGinn finds it hard to believe he was able to play a key part in thwarting the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani last night.

The Portugal duo are considered two of the most dangerous wing men in the world but it was their unheralded opposite number who stole the headlines with a fine counter-attacking goal to put the visitors ahead in Porto.

Helder Postiga eventually snatched a 1-1 draw for Portugal, who had dominated possession throughout only to frequently fall at the final hurdle.

McGinn would not even have started had the likes of Chris Brunt and Shane Ferguson been fit, and was still coming to terms with his maiden strike for his country.

"It is just an unbelievable feeling to score against Portugal, as well as it being my first international goal, so I am just over the moon," said the Aberdeen player.

"Coming from a small village in County Tyrone, as a fan admiring players like Ronaldo and Nani then having the chance to actually play against them is something else. Obviously to score against them that's something else too!

"To score my first international goal is just fantastic and to come out here and score it against one of the world's best teams is great."

McGinn was unable to hold down a regular place at Celtic prior to his summer departure and has also been in and out of the Northern Ireland side.

Injuries have played their part in halting the 25-year-old's progress but last night's result went some way to making up for his struggles.

"Quite honestly, I have been playing with a smile on my face," he said. "I've obviously come back from the injury problems I've had, have scored three in three with my club and I have been working really hard.

"I am enjoying life at the minute, so long may that continue.

"Definitely, moments like this are a way of paying off for all the hard work behind the scenes."

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