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Michael O'Neill admits dismissals of Brunt and Lafferty cost them chance of victory against Portugal

In Pictures: Northern Ireland v Portugal Close

6/9/2013. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL.  Gareth McAuley rises to beat Ronaldo and score the equaliser scores during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

6/9/2013. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL. Gareth McAuley rises to beat Ronaldo and score the equaliser scores during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

6/9/2013. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL.  Ronaldo scores his first during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

6/9/2013. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL. Ronaldo scores his first during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

6/9/2013. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL.  Ronaldo scores his second  during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

6/9/2013. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL. Ronaldo scores his second during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

Pacemaker Press 6/9/2013
Northern Ireland v Portugal World Cup Qualifier
Hat Trick Hero Cristiano Ronaldo during this evening's game at Windsor Park in Belfast
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Pacemaker Press 6/9/2013 Northern Ireland v Portugal World Cup Qualifier Hat Trick Hero Cristiano Ronaldo during this evening's game at Windsor Park in Belfast Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

6/9/2013. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL.  Ronaldo scores his second  during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

6/9/2013. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL. Ronaldo scores his second during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

  ©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -  6th September 2013
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd /Presseye.com

     World Cup Qualifier Northern Ireland v Portugal at Windsor Park.
 Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward celebrates

©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 6th September 2013 Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd /Presseye.com World Cup Qualifier Northern Ireland v Portugal at Windsor Park. Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward celebrates

Mandatory Credit Darren Kidd/Pre

  ©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -  6th September 2013
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd /Presseye.com

     World Cup Qualifier Northern Ireland v Portugal at Windsor Park.
 Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward celebrates

©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 6th September 2013 Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd /Presseye.com World Cup Qualifier Northern Ireland v Portugal at Windsor Park. Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward celebrates

Mandatory Credit Darren Kidd/Pre

  ©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -  6th September 2013
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd /Presseye.com

     World Cup Qualifier Northern Ireland v Portugal at Windsor Park.
 Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley as Jamie Ward  scores

©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 6th September 2013 Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd /Presseye.com World Cup Qualifier Northern Ireland v Portugal at Windsor Park. Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley as Jamie Ward scores

Mandatory Credit Darren Kidd/Pre

World Cup qualifier Northern Ireland v Portugal at Windsor Park.
 Northern Ireland's  with  Portugal's

World Cup qualifier Northern Ireland v Portugal at Windsor Park. Northern Ireland's with Portugal's

Mandatory Credit Darren Kidd/Pre

Pacemaker Belfast 06-09-2013
Northern Ireland v Portugal World Cup Qualifier at Windsor PK
Northern Ireland's manager Michael O'Neill and Portugal's Paulo Bento after Northern Ireland had equalised during this evenings game in Belfast
Photo David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker Belfast 06-09-2013 Northern Ireland v Portugal World Cup Qualifier at Windsor PK Northern Ireland's manager Michael O'Neill and Portugal's Paulo Bento after Northern Ireland had equalised during this evenings game in Belfast Photo David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker

Pacemaker Press 6/9/2013
Northern Ireland v Portugal World Cup Qualifier
Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley scores during this evening's game at Windsor Park in Belfast
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Pacemaker Press 6/9/2013 Northern Ireland v Portugal World Cup Qualifier Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley scores during this evening's game at Windsor Park in Belfast Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

6/9/2013. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL.  Gareth McAuley rises to beat Ronaldo and score the equaliser scores during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

6/9/2013. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL. Gareth McAuley rises to beat Ronaldo and score the equaliser scores during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley beats the Portugal defence to score during the World Cup Qualifying, Group F match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday September 6, 2013. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley beats the Portugal defence to score during the World Cup Qualifying, Group F match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday September 6, 2013. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire

PA

6/9/2013. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL.  Gareth McAuley rises to beat Ronaldo and score the equaliser scores during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

6/9/2013. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL. Gareth McAuley rises to beat Ronaldo and score the equaliser scores during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

Pacemaker Press 6/9/2013
Northern Ireland v Portugal World Cup Qualifier
Northern Ireland's  Steve Davis   and Portugal's  Vieirinha during this evening's game at Windsor Park in Belfast
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Pacemaker Press 6/9/2013 Northern Ireland v Portugal World Cup Qualifier Northern Ireland's Steve Davis and Portugal's Vieirinha during this evening's game at Windsor Park in Belfast Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

6/9/2013. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL.  Gareth McAuley rises to beat Ronaldo and score the equaliser scores during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

6/9/2013. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL. Gareth McAuley rises to beat Ronaldo and score the equaliser scores during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

6/9/2013. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL.  Gareth McAuley rises to beat Ronaldo and score the equaliser scores during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

6/9/2013. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL. Gareth McAuley rises to beat Ronaldo and score the equaliser scores during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

6/9/2013. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL.  Gareth McAuley rises to beat Ronaldo and score the equaliser scores during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

6/9/2013. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL. Gareth McAuley rises to beat Ronaldo and score the equaliser scores during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

6/9/2013. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL.  Gareth McAuley rises to beat Ronaldo and score the equaliser scores during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

6/9/2013. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL. Gareth McAuley rises to beat Ronaldo and score the equaliser scores during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

6/9/2013. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL.  Gareth McAuley rises to beat Ronaldo and score the equaliser scores during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

6/9/2013. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL. Gareth McAuley rises to beat Ronaldo and score the equaliser scores during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

Oliver Norwood and Ronaldo during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

Oliver Norwood and Ronaldo during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

Northern Ireland's manager Michael O'Neill  during Friday's game in Belfast
Photo David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Northern Ireland's manager Michael O'Neill during Friday's game in Belfast Photo David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker

Oliver Norwood and Ronaldo during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

Oliver Norwood and Ronaldo during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

Northern Ireland v Portugal World Cup Qualifier at Windsor PK
Portugal's Bruno Alves celebrates his goal during this evenings game in Belfast
Photo David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Northern Ireland v Portugal World Cup Qualifier at Windsor PK Portugal's Bruno Alves celebrates his goal during this evenings game in Belfast Photo David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker

Northern Ireland's Steven Davis and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo during Friday's game in Belfast
Photo David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Northern Ireland's Steven Davis and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo during Friday's game in Belfast Photo David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker

Northern Ireland v Portugal World Cup Qualifier at Windsor Park. Northern Ireland's Lee Hodson and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo during Friday's game in Belfast
Photo David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Northern Ireland v Portugal World Cup Qualifier at Windsor Park. Northern Ireland's Lee Hodson and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo during Friday's game in Belfast Photo David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker

Martin Paterson and Pepe during Friday's 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Pic Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

Martin Paterson and Pepe during Friday's 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Pic Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

Northern Ireland's Lee Hodson and Portugal's Fabio Coentrao during Friday's game in Belfast. Pic David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Northern Ireland's Lee Hodson and Portugal's Fabio Coentrao during Friday's game in Belfast. Pic David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker

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6/9/2013. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL. Gareth McAuley rises to beat Ronaldo and score the equaliser scores during this evenings 2014 World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal at Windsor park, Belfast. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

Michael O'Neill took heart from Northern Ireland's performance against Portugal, but admitted the dismissals of Chris Brunt and substitute Kyle Lafferty ultimately cost them a chance of victory.

Northern Ireland were on course to upset the odds - as they had done in Porto when they claimed a 1-1 draw in their previous Group F meeting - after Gareth McAuley and Jamie Ward netted following Bruno Alves' opener for the 10-man visitors, who had Helder Postiga sent off just before half-time.

However, Brunt saw red on the hour mark before Cristiano Ronaldo stole the show with a fantastic second-half hat-trick to give Portugal a 4-2 win at Windsor Park.

Lafferty was also dismissed with the score at 3-2 10 minutes from time and O'Neill admitted that was a hammer blow to their hopes of upsetting the apple cart.

"I thought up until 60 minutes and Chris Brunt's sending off, we were the better team and in control of the game," O'Neill told Sky Sports 4.

"I thought they scored against the run of play and we responded well to that having gone into our shell a little bit.

"But then obviously the second sending off left us that man short and subsequently we weren't able to deal with that.

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"You take the performance of the team, particularly for 60-65 minutes, I thought the energy and the shape of the team was very good.

"We were playing here against one of the top sides in Europe and people have to recognise that."

Real Madrid forward Ronaldo had his revenge on the Northern Ireland side that spoiled the occasion of his 100th cap last October with a phenomenal display to keep Portugal top of the group ahead of Russia.

"Certainly at the end of the day he showed his class tonight," added O'Neill.

"On the night we're disappointed we've got ourselves into a winning position and circumstances conspired against us."


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