Portugal came from behind to beat Northern Ireland 4-2 in Belfast thanks to a stunning second half hat trick from Cristiano Ronaldo. The Real Madrid forward’s three goals, two headers and a free kick, sent Portugal back to the top of Group F, and made him his country’s second all-time leading scorer with 43 goals.
"This is historic for me, I'd scored a lot of hat-tricks for Real Madrid but never any for Portugal. It was a special match, I feel really happy," Ronaldo told Portuguese TV station RTP as he held the game ball.
Fenerbahce defender Bruno Alves, who scored the opening goal of the game with a fantastic volley in the 29th minute, added: "We went through a lot of difficulties, particularly in the first half. But we stuck together and our effort was worth it in the end."
Portugal, which was reduced to 10 men shortly before halftime when Helder Postiga was sent off, looked in deep trouble after Jamie Ward scored Northern Ireland’s second goal to make it 2-1 early in the 52nd minute, but a second yellow card to Kevin Brunt shortly thereafter brought the Portuguese back into the match. Kyle Lafferty was later shown a straight red before Ronaldo completed his hat trick.