Originally posted on Fox Soccer  |  Last updated 8/14/13
Cristiano Ronaldo equalized three minutes from time as Portugal salvaged a 1-1 draw against the Netherlands in a friendly Wednesday. Ronaldo poked the ball in at the front post after a corner, putting some shine on a muted performance by the Real Madrid striker. Ronaldo's 40th international goal cancelled out Kevin Strootman's 17th-minute opener, the midfielder driving a low left-foot shot into the corner of the net from just outside the area. The Dutch team's recent good form gave it the edge in the first half, though it needed some inspired second-half defending to keep the Portuguese out until Ronaldo's late breakthrough. Ricardo van Rhijn twice intervened to deny Danny and Ronaldo from close range after the break, then goalkeeper Michel Vrom leapt acrobatically to tip Ronaldo's shot wide in the 63rd. ''We corrected what we were doing wrong after the interval and in the second half we were top quality,'' Portugal coach Paulo Bento said. ''We had a lot of chances ... and the goal was a just reward.'' In official competition, the Dutch have won their first six World Cup qualifying games and are seven points clear in Group D, as well as unbeaten over the past year. Portugal has been a lot less impressive, recording four wins, two draws and a loss in its bid to reach the tournament in Brazil. The Portuguese lead Group F with 14 points, two more than second-place Russia, but the Russians have two games in hand. That Dutch sharpness under coach Louis van Gaal told from the outset, with Arjen Robben repeatedly unsettling the Portuguese defense. But Robin van Persie, named Oranje captain after Van Gaal dropped Wesley Sneijder, was mostly a spectator before being replaced after an hour. Injuries to three key midfielders - Nani, Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles - weakened the Portuguese challenge. Even so, Ruben Micael had a clear chance to level the score in the 28th when the ball reached him, unmarked, at the back post but he shot wide as two Dutch defenders slid in.
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