Belfast Telegraph

Let's give world superstar Ronaldo another terrible night, says Davis

BY STUART McKINLEY

Steven Davis has boldly predicted that Northern Ireland can keep Cristiano Ronaldo quiet for the second time in a year.

Michael O'Neill's team spoilt the Real Madrid superstar's big night last October when his 100th cap party became a damp squib as Northern Ireland produced a heroic performance and were only denied a famous victory by a goal 11 minutes from time.

The Portuguese captain's appearance at Windsor Park has been billed as a revenge mission for Ronaldo, but Davis believes that he and his team-mates can make it another night of disappointment for the man who this week lost the tag of the world's most expensive footballer to his new Real team-mate Gareth Bale.

"Ronaldo is such a great talent and he delivers in every game," said Northern Ireland captain Davis, who has faced his Portugal counterpart previously in Premier League games while they were with Aston Villa and Manchester United respectively.

"He is such a threat and he's definitely a player you are going to have to watch out for.

"If we can try to get a game plan, get that right, keep the shape of the team and try to stifle him like we did in Porto it will give us an opportunity to go out and get a result."

Northern Ireland will go up against Ronaldo and co on a high after last month's 1-0 win over Russia, which came after three draws and two defeats in the Group F campaign.

The victory against Fabio Capello's side was thoroughly deserved, which is more than can be said for some of the previous outcomes.

Luxembourg's late own-goal equaliser broke the hearts of the home fans this time last year, while Northern Ireland created enough chances to beat Azerbaijan by a cricket score a couple of months later.

The Portugal game came in between those other two 1-1 draws and had O'Neill's team got the results their performances merited they would be right in the hunt for a trip to Brazil next summer.

This campaign was, however, always going to be all about building for the future and Davis is happy to do that.

"Performances as a whole have been at a good level and it was nice to see it come together against Russia and get what we really deserved," he said.

"It's hard to look back, we want to look forward and try to get as much from the group as possible," he added.

Davis doesn't want to completely forget about the win against Russia though.

"The aim is to replicate the performance and get a similar result," he said.

"We are going to have to be at our best to get a result and obviously the Portugal team is full of talent and quality and we're going to have to be at our game if we're going to get anything.

"It's a game to look forward to for everyone -- the players and the fans -- and there will definitely be a buzz about Windsor Park on the back of the last result as well," he added.

Northern Ireland go into the game with two members of the squad on yellow cards.

Another booking for Jonny Evans or Martin Paterson would put them out of next Tuesday's game away to Luxembourg.

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