Euro 2016: Iceland hold Portugal to shock draw

Adam Szalai and Zoltan Stieber scored second-half goals as Hungary stunned highly-fancied Austria 2-0.

St Etienne: Battling outsiders Iceland enjoyed a memorable big-stage debut as they clinched a shock 1-1 draw against Euro 2016 Group F favourites Portugal in a captivating match on Tuesday.

It was a miserable evening for Portugal's top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo even though he equalled Luis Figo's record of 127 caps for his country.

Iceland produced a typically industrious performance in their maiden appearance at a major tournament with winger Birkir Bjarnason cancelling out Nani's first-half opener.

Although Portugal dominated for long spells, the result was no more than Iceland deserved.

"We should have scored more goals but we didn't and pragmatic Iceland took full advantage," Portugal coach Fernando Santos told a news conference.

"It was by no means a brilliant performance by us. We have to move better between the lines and keep our focus in defence.

"Considering today's results, our next game against Austria could have a huge impact. I always said this was a complex group and I still think anything can happen," added Santos.

With Hungary beating Austria 2-0 earlier, a fascinating battle for late-16 berths looms with Iceland taking on Hungary in their next game.

A string of good saves by goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, coupled with Ronaldo's wasteful finishing, was a significant factor for the Nordic nation who fulfilled their pre-match promise to show no nerves.

They went close in the third minute when keeper Rui Patricio denied Gylfi Sigurdsson with a double stop, smothering the rebound after parrying the midfielder's first effort.

Portugal eventually got into their stride but the final pass kept going astray in the opening 20 minutes, with Iceland's back four able to close down Ronaldo and Nani.

Perfect cross:

The pattern changed after Nani drew a superb reflex save from Halldorsson who kept out his close-range header after Ronaldo delivered a perfect cross from the left.

Iceland saw little of the ball from there on as Ronaldo sent a looping header over the bar and then scuffed his shot straight at Halldorsson after a defence-splitting pass by Pepe.

Portugal, who had 67 percent possession in the first half, made their dominance count after a sweeping one-two between Vieirinha and Andre Gomes on the right handed Nani a simple task to steer the ball home from seven metres.

Roared on by their fans, Iceland equalised out of the blue in the 50th minute as Bjarnason swept in a teasing Johann Gudmundsson centre that caught out Vieirinha.

It seemed to take the wind out of Portugal's sails, with Ronaldo looking short of pace, although Nani came close to restoring their lead after a glancing header sailed just wide.

Halldorsson then stopped dangerous shots by Gomes and Raphael Guerreiro as well as a deflected Ricardo Quaresma effort before substitute Alfred Finnbogason almost grabbed what would have been a remarkable winner at the other end.

Rui Patricio was barely able to palm away the striker's stinging drive from the edge of the penalty area as Portugal ended up running out of ideas.

Iceland co-coach Heimir Hallgrimsson, who shares the job with Swede Lars Lagerback, said the draw boosted his team's hopes of reaching the last 16.

"With a win against Hungary we'd probably be almost there and holding the group's strongest team to a draw should be a massive confidence boost," he explained.

"Our defending was fantastic, we were well organised and worked really hard. It's difficult to single out any individual player as they all deserve credit for a stirring team effort.

"It's really good to have a point. We can go a little bit more relaxed into the next game," said Hallgrimsson.

Austria stunned:

Adam Szalai and Zoltan Stieber scored second-half goals as Hungary stunned highly-fancied Austria 2-0 in their Group F opener in Bordeaux on Tuesday.

Austria, tipped as tournament dark horses, dominated the opening period but Szalai fired Hungary ahead on 62 minutes with Stieber wrapping up a shock victory over their old rivals late on in the 138th meeting between the sides.

Aleksandar Dragovic was sent off for Austria shortly after Szalai ended an 18-month goal drought as Hungary made a triumphant return to a major tournament having last featured at the 1986 World Cup.

"Unfortunately we weren't able to do what we wanted today," said Austria coach Marcel Koller.

"Maybe some players were nervous because it was the beginning. We can't just push a button and say 'Now I'm going to play at my best level'.

"The situation now is we'll have to try and win against Portugal."

Hungary goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly kept a clean sheet as he became the first 40-year-old to feature at the European Championship, surpassing Germany's Lothar Matthaus as the oldest player in tournament history.

Austria captain Christian Fuchs and winger Martin Harnik were the only two survivors from the country's debut campaign eight years ago named in Koller's starting line-up.

However, they were inches away from the perfect start when Bayern Munich star David Alaba went agonisingly close to justifying his billing as one of the potential stars of the tournament when his dipping left-footed strike from outside the area crashed against the post.

The versatile Alaba, operating in his customary central midfield role with Austria, soon fired another warning to Hungary with a first-time strike at Kiraly after a threaded pass through from Marko Arnautovic.

Szalai miscued a header from a Balazs Dzsudzsak free-kick in a rare opening for Hungary, while Kiraly showed his reflexes remain sharp despite his advancing years to claw behind a low strike from Zlatko Junuzovic.

Arnautovic then slid a dangerous low ball across the face of goal as Austria continued to threaten, but Harnik lost his footing as he tried to slide home at the far post.

Hungary captain Dzsudzsak wasted arguably the best chance of the opening 45 minutes, though, as he screwed his shot wide of goal after he was picked out by Laszlo Kleinheisler on the right-hand side of the penalty area.

Dzsudzsak again took aim 10 minutes into the second period, his stinging 30-yard shot forcing Austria keeper Robert Almer to punch behind for a corner.

And Hungary grabbed a surprise lead just beyond the hour when Kleinheisler slipped in Szalai, who was played onside by Fuchs, with the powerful striker poking the ball underneath Almer for his first goal at any level since December 2014.

Austria appeared to have levelled when Martin Hinteregger rifled in from the edge of the area, but referee Clement Turpin disallowed the goal for a foul on Tamas Kadar with Dragovic dismissed for a second booking.

And Stieber triggered delirious celebrations when he raced from just inside the Austria half to beat Almer three minutes from time with a sublime chip as Hungary completed a stunning upset for their first European Championship win since 1964.

( Source : Agencies )
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