Soccer·Recap

Euro 2016: Iceland shocks Portugal with hard-fought draw

Adam Szalai scored his first goal in 12 appearances and Zoltan Stieber added another to help Hungary beat Austria 2-0 Tuesday at the European Championship in France.

Hungary explodes in 2nd half, stuns Austria in Tuesday's early match

Iceland's Birkir Bjarnason (8) celebrates his goal in the 50th minute with Kolbeinn Sigporsson in Group F action against Portgual at the UEFA Euro Cup on Tuesday. Bjarnason's goal helped Iceland earn a 1-1 draw with Portgual. (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

A goal from Birkir Bjarnason earned Iceland a shock 1-1 draw with Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal on Tuesday at the European Championship, the tiny Scandinavian nation's first ever match at a major tournament.

Iceland was second best most of the Group F game and trailed to a first half strike by Nani. But its players showed resilience throughout, and took advantage of Portugal's poor play in front of its own goal.

Bjarnason slotted home the equalizer in the 50th minute with a curled volley at the far post against the run of the play, moments after Ronaldo missed a chance to make it 2-0 when he shot wide.

"We should have scored more goals, there is no secret about that," Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. "We are to blame for that. Then there was this move. We knew they could play long balls and that they had good crossers. They were very pragmatic."

With a population of 330,000, Iceland is the smallest nation ever to play at a European Championship. It defied the odds to reach the tournament by finishing second in its qualifying group behind the Czech Republic and above Turkey and the Netherlands, defeating the Dutch twice.

"So many things are happening for the first time to Iceland," the team's co-coach Heimir Hallgrimsson said. "This is another first-time achievement. It was fantastic to play here. It was like playing at home, the fans were fantastic."

Nani put Portugal in front with a clinical finish from close range on a day when Ronaldo equaled Luis Figo's Portugal record of 127 caps — but lacked his usual composure and accuracy.

After a tight start, Portugal won the midfield battle and Nani turned Portugal's dominance of possession into a goal when he collected a cross from the right by Andre Gomes and steered the ball home at the near post in the 31st minute.

Portugal had wasted many good chances before then, notably in the 22nd minute when Ronaldo found Nani in the box with a precise cross. Nani jumped higher than the Iceland defenders but his powerful header hit the feet of keeper Hannes Halldorsson.

Ronaldo sent a header wide and again came close just before Nani's opener, collecting a 40-meter ball from Pepe over the top — only to fluff his shot.

Playing high up the pitch, Portugal applied the pressure with plenty of movement off the ball and quick passing, forcing Iceland's midfielders to keep chasing the ball.

The pressure continued immediately after the break, when Ronaldo failed to take advantage of a ball that dropped to his feet, shooting wide while unmarked from the edge of the box.

Soon after that, Portugal was made to pay for Ronaldo's misses.

On one of Iceland's few scoring chances, Portugal defender Vieirinha lost track of Bjarnason at the far post and the winger volleyed home a cross from Johann Gudmundsson.

The equalizer soon lifted Iceland's morale and briefly unsettled Portugal.

Ronaldo tried to break the stalemate, leaving Ragnar Sigurdsson on the ground with a succession of his quick dribbles in the 68th minute. But the defender still managed to take the ball away from the Real Madrid star's feet with a brilliant tackle.

Portugal continued to push forward in search of a winner.

But Nani's glanced header from a free kick flew wide, substitute Ricardo Quaresma's deflected shot 12 minutes from time was parried away by Halldorsson and Ronaldo had a late series of free kicks blocked by the Iceland wall.

Hungary 2, Austria 0 

Hungary's Adam Szalai puts his shot past Austria's keeper Robert Almer in the 62nd minute in Group F action in Bordeaux, France on Tuesday. Szalai's marker was the first of two second-half goals, helping Hungary to a 2-0 win over Austria. (Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Gabor Kiraly set an age record at the European Championship, and helped Hungary beat Austria 2-0 on Tuesday.

The Hungary goalkeeper became the first 40-year-old player to participate in the continental championship, surpassing the record set by Germany great Lothar Matthaus by almost a year.

Adam Szalai gave Hungary the lead at Stade de Bordeaux with his first goal in 12 appearances. Substitute Zoltan Stieber added the other after Austria was reduced to 10 men when Aleksandar Dragovic was shown a second yellow card.

Kiraly, wearing his trademark gray sweatpants, made some good stops, including a dive to block a shot from Zlatko Junuzovic in the 35th minute. He also smothered a shot from David Alaba in the 10th.

Kiraly is 40 years and 75 days. Matthaus was 39 years and 91 days when Germany played Portugal at Euro 2000.

Szalai scored after playing a one-two with Hungary teammate Laszlo Kleinheisler. He then ran into the box and latched onto the return pass before scoring under Austria goalkeeper Robert Almer.

"I don't want to talk about myself. The whole team won," Szalai said. "Everyone worked together. I think we managed to do everything our manager told us in terms of advice and strategy."

Austria thought it had equalized moments after the Hungary goal, when Martin Hinteregger put the ball in the back of the net, but it was ruled out for a foul and Dragovic was sent off with a second yellow card.

Stieber made it 2-0 in the 87th, bursting down the right flank from inside his own half and lifting a long ball over the onrushing Almer.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now