Cristiano Ronaldo gobbled up a large chunk of revenge by blasting home a sensational second half hat-trick in Friday night’s World Cup qualifier at Windsor Park.
Northern Ireland had the audacity spoiling the Real Madrid star’s big night in Porto by grabbing a shock draw on his 100th appearance for his country in October last year.
But he issued the ultimate punishment in front of a packed south Belfast venue -- the last time the old stadium will host an international before its redevelopment.
It was a dramatic night. Six goals, three sendings-off and a plethora of bookings -- yes it had it all.
The win sends Portugal five points clear of Russia at the top of Group F, but Fabio Capello’s side have played two games less.
Bruno Alves shot Portugal into the lead by goals from Gareth McAuley and Jamie Ward had Northern Ireland in front early in the second half. Windsor Park was rocking again!
But Ronaldo took the game by the scruff of the neck by hammering home a dramatic in a frenetic 15 minute spell.
It looked so good for Michael O’Neill’s men when Helder Postiga was dismissed before the break, but his all went horribly wrong when Chris Brunt and Kyle Lafferty were shown red cards in a frantic second 45 minutes.
Northern Ireland shot from the traps and pinned back the Portuguese super-star in the opening minutes.
The Group F table-toppers gave a little hint of what was to come on on 15 minutes when Alves stormed forward to connect with a Joao Moutinho free kick, but his header flashed inches past the post.
The big Fenerbache defender had better luck six minutes later. The home defence failed to deal with a Moutinho corner kick, which broke invitingly for Alves on the edge of the box and his volley crept in at the far post in spite of a desperate effort from Roy Carroll to claw it clear.
Northern Ireland weathered a storm and, seconds later, Hodson capitalised on a defensive lapse before drilling a dangerous ball into the box, which hoofed off the toe of the lurking Paterson by Pepe.
But the old stadium erupted on 36 minutes with that McAuley equaliser. Goalkeeper Rui Patricio conceded a needless corner and, from Ferguson’s cross, the towering defender out-jumped everyone to ram the ball home -- his third international goal on his 34th appearance.
The Portuguese were clearly rattled. The game then erupted for all the wrong reasons five minutes before the interval when Postiga was red card after an alleged head-butt on McAuley. Ronaldo’s protests also earned him a yellow card.
Northern Ireland emerged for the second half, determined to capitalise on their advantage. Ward’s penetrating run was brought to an abrupt end and, with the home fans appealing for a penalty, referee wasn’t impressed
McAuley then tried his luck with an audacious 40 yard shot that looped agonisingly over the crossbar with Patricio struggling.
But O’Neill’s men struck again on 52 minutes. Ferguson’s header was flicked on by Evans and the little Derby County player managed to bundle the ball over the line.
The home fans were stunned into silence when Brunt went in recklessly on Joao Pieriera, leaving the referee with no option to flash a second yellow card in the direction of the WBA man.
But then that man Ronald levelled two minutes later. Moutinho again was the provider and his pin-point corner was powered home by the flick of the head by the Real Madrid star.
Over-worked Carroll rescued his team again, this time beating away a stinging shot from Manchester United man Nani.
The Real Madrid pairing of Fabio Coentrao and Ronaldo combined to kill off the Northern Ireland resistance.
Coentrao, a target for Manchester United in last week’s transfer window, sent in a deep cross which was powered him by Ronaldo.
It was going horribly wrong for O’Neill side as substitute Kyle Lafferty -- a 66th minute replacement for Niall McGinn -- sent Periera into orbit with a needless crude challenge and referee Makkelie produced a straight red card.
And Ronaldo produced the coup de grace seven minutes from time by hammering an unstoppable free kick beyond Carroll - his 43 goal for his country and Northern Ireland were condewned to another World Cup defeat at Windsor Park - but it could have been so different.