Hughes free-kick frustrates Portugal

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The Independent Online
Portugal 1 Northern Ireland 1

A stunning 30-yard free-kick from Michael Hughes gave Northern Ireland a point and kept Portugal waiting to qualify for the European Championship.

Bryan Hamilton's injury and suspension-hit side survived an almost non- stop bombardment in Porto last night thanks to a marvellous display by the Hull City goalkeeper, Alan Fettis.

Fettis, who has only played for two minutes as a substitute striker for the Boothferry Park club this season because of a contract dispute, turned in the display of his life.

Although beaten two minutes into the second half by Domingos, Fettis resisted everything else the home side could throw at him, including 21 corners.

However, having survived the initial blitz, Bryan Hamilton's side, who kept their slim chances of qualification, began to make an impact as an attacking force. All the hard work, though, seemed as if it would be wasted two minutes into the second period when Domingos, with his back to goal, turned smartly to shoot past the unsighted Fettis.

The siege intensified but, in the 66th minute, the Irish silenced the 40,000 home crowd with their unexpected equaliser. Hughes was brought down by Fernando Couto and when Jim Magilton touched the ball to one side, the winger unleashed a magnificent left-foot shot that flew through the wall and into the corner of the net.

"It really is a tremendous point for us,'' Hamilton, Northern Ireland's manager, said. ''We knew we'd have to organise ourselves defensively and we are a very young side, but everybody gave everything."

PORTUGAL: Vitor Baia (Porto); Secretairo (Porto), Jorge Costa (Porto), Oceano (Sporting Lisbon), Fernando Couto (Parma), Paulo Sousa (Juventus), Figo (Barcelona), Paulinho Santos (Porto), Domingos (Porto), Rui Costa (Fiorentina), Folha (Porto). Substitutes: Rui Barros (Porto) for Jorge Costa, 73; Paulo Alves (Sporting Lisbon) for Rui Costa, 82.

NORTHERN IRELAND: Fettis (Hull City); Morrow (Arsenal), Worthington (Leeds), Hill (Leicester), Hunter (Wrexham), Lomas (Manchester City), Gillespie (Newcastle), Magilton (Southampton), Dowie (Crystal Palace), Lennon (Crewe), Hughes (Strasbourg). Substitute: P Gray (Sunderland) for Dowie, 77.

Referee: R Harrel (France)