For World Cup Qualification Ronaldo Rescues Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo rescued Portugal with a speedy hat trick to avoid a slip up in Northern Ireland, while Netherlands dropped their first points as Spain and Germany took easier steps towards World Cup qualification.England moved level on points at the top of Group H with Montenegro after marching to a 4-0 home win over Moldova that came as their rivals were held 1-1 in Poland.Italy and Belgium were among the group pacesetters to take full points, while Group E leaders Switzerland could only draw 4-4 with Iceland and Group G table-toppers Bosnia surprisingly lost 1-0 at home to Slovakia.

In Belfast, Portugal were in serious danger of being knocked off the top of Group F, after second-placed Russia had earlier thumped Luxembourg 4-1, as they found themselves trailing 2-1 to Northern Ireland.Their hosts had previous form for upsets having stunned Russia 1-0 last month and it looked like they were heading for another when Portugal`s Helder Postiga was shown a straight red card for a headbutt on Gareth McAuley just before halftime.Northern Ireland, already out of qualifying contention, made the man advantage count early in the second half when Jamie Ward scored after a corner but Portugal`s fortunes turned when Kevin Brunt was shown a second yellow to make it 10 against 10.