Issued on • Modified
Hungary, Iceland and Portugal advance to knockout phase from Group F
Group F’s configuration twisted and turned during 90 pulsating minutes. In Lyon, Portugal came from behind three times. Just before half-time Nani levelled Zoltan Gera’s 19th minute opener for Hungary.
After the break, it was a battle between the two skippers, Balazs Dzsudzsak
scored for Hungary, Cristiano Ronaldo levelled. Dzsudzsak made it 3-2. Ronaldo levelled.
It was thrilling stuff. With Iceland and Austria at one apiece at the Stade de France, each time Hungary took the lead, Portugal were on the way home. Each time Portugal came back they were into the last 16 as runners-up.
Jon Dadi Bodvarsson gave Iceland the lead early in the first-half but they were pegged back on the hour mark. Alessandro Schoepf weaved his way through the defence and drove past Hannes Thor Halldorsson to bring Austria back into the competition. The Austrians’ search for the winner was their undoing. In the dying seconds they were caught on the counter. Arnor Ingvi Traustason slid the ball home in stoppage time to give Iceland the 2-1 victory and send them into the last 16 as runners-up.
The win at the death and their finishing position will be particularly sweet for Iceland. Hungary got their equaliser late in the game against them on 18 June. And Ronaldo criticised their defensive performance during the first pool game on 14 June in St Etienne.
The Icelanders dug in for a 1-1 draw which brought them their first point at an international football tournament. Ronaldo said the Scandinavians played with a small mentality and would achieve nothing in the tournament. The Iceland players riposted coldly by simply saying Ronaldo wasn’t a very nice human being.
Iceland will play England in the last 16 on 27 June in Nice while Portugal – who advance as one of the four best third placed teams – will take on Croatia on 25 June in Lens.
Even if his side didn’t finish as runners-up in Group F, there was some solace for Ronaldo. The 31-year-old became the first man to score in four successive European championships.
The landmark was hailed with a sumptuous strike - a backheel flick past the keeper Gabor Kiraly. It was as stylish as the celebration was exaggerated - a dash to the sideline, a jump and a mid air turn and fists clenched on landing.
Good, testosterone charged theatre. But unlikely to find an appreciative audience anywhere in Iceland.