Norwood calls for spirit to stay

PA Sport
Oliver Norwood and Niall McGinn celebrate Northern Ireland's opener against Portugal
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Oliver Norwood and Niall McGinn celebrate Northern Ireland's opener against Portugal

Oliver Norwood has called on Northern Ireland to maintain the spirit they showed against Portugal for the remainder of their World Cup qualifying campaign.

Tuesday night's 1-1 draw at Porto's Dragao Stadium represented one of the finest away trips in Northern Ireland's history, with Helder Postiga only denying them a famous win with a late equaliser.

"We knew this was going to be a tough group but we have got to capitalise on this result in the four home games we have coming up," Norwood told BBC Sport Northern Ireland.

Until then it was Niall McGinn who looked to have stolen the limelight from Cristiano Ronaldo on the occasion of the Portuguese forward's 100th cap, the Aberdeen winger putting his side ahead with a smart finish after 30 minutes.

Michael O'Neill's side were on the back foot for the overwhelming majority of the match but defended bravely against opposition ranked third in the world and battled tirelessly as a team.

It was a big improvement on last month's 1-1 draw at home to Luxembourg and Huddersfield midfielder Norwood wants to use the performance as a benchmark for their next seven Group F matches.

Norwood added: "We came out, set our stall out and we've got to build on that now for the rest of the campaign because we've set the standard and we can't drop below that. We got a performance out of every single player and we ran our hearts out for each other."

As well as a hugely satisfying point, Norwood left Portugal with something else to treasure - Ronaldo's shirt.

Norwood revealed the much sought-after memento came with a little help from a former Manchester United colleague.

"I still speak to Rio Ferdinand a bit and I got him to sort it out for me last week. He (Ronaldo) gave it to me in the tunnel after the game," he said.

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