Euro 2016: Matchday 1 in Group F

Cormac O'DonnellEuropean Championship0 Comments

The final round of fixtures delivered the first big shock of the tournament as Hungary blew past a promising Austria side. In the later game Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal were held by the smallest nation at the tournament, Iceland.

Euphoria for Hungary after a shock victory. Courtesy: guardian.co.uk

Euphoria for Hungary after a shock victory. Courtesy: guardian.co.uk

Austria 0-2 Hungary

Minnows Hungary supplied the first real shock of the tournament by toppling a much fancied Austria side. It was the favourites who dominated the early proceedings, testing Gabor Kiraly, now the oldest player to play at the Championships, between the sticks.

Despite their dominance, it was Szalai in the 63rd minute who gave Hungary the lead with his first international goal since December 2014. The delight and shock was apparent in the equal measure on the faces of the jubilant Hungarian crowd.

Matters were made worse for Austria just moments later when they had a goal controversially ruled out for a Dragovic foul, resulting in the Austrian centre-back being shown a second yellow card. This left Austria open at the back as they attempted to level the game. This space was utilised by Zoltan Steiber who, breaking the defence on the counter-attack, to deliver Hungary an historic victory.

 

Austria Expectations: 7/10

Another dark horse for the tournament. Christian Fuchs, Marko Arnautovic, and David Alaba have the potential to push Austria into the latter stages of the tournament.

Austria Verdict: 6/10

The result makes the performance feel a lot worse than it was. Similar to England, Austria will be wondering just what happened in this fixture. They dominated throughout and were unlucky to go a man down. They will prove difficult opponents for both Portugal and Iceland.

  Euro 2016: Matchday 1 in Group A

 

Hungary Expectations: 4/10

Having qualified through a play-off after an absence of 44 years, little is expected from a Hungary side who will do well to make their way out of the group.

Hungary Verdict: 7/10

Hungary showed great organisation and determination. For much of the game they were outclassed by Austria but, when the chance arrived, Hungary took their chances effectively and proved they shouldn’t be underestimated.

Iceland celebrate around a disbelieving Cristiano Ronaldo. Courtesy: theguardian.com

Iceland celebrate around a disbelieving Cristiano Ronaldo. Courtesy: theguardian.com

Portugal 1-1 Iceland

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal were held by the smallest nation at the tournament, with a population of around 330,000. Their defensive set-up with the aim of counter-attacking upset the mercurial Ronaldo who criticized their small mentality.

Portugal enjoyed much of the possession and in the first half it was Iceland’s goalkeeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson who saw most of the ball for the debutants. Portugal however were left frustrated until Andre Gomes found Nani in the box to prod the ball into the Iceland goal in the 31st minute.

Iceland erupted onto the European stage when Birkir Bjarnason connected beautifully with a pin-point cross from Johann Gudmundsson to slot the ball past Rui Patricio in the 50th minute. A stubborn backs-to-the-wall performance sealed an astonishing point for a nation with no professional clubs.

 

Portugal Expectations: 7.5/10

Any team with Cristiano Ronaldo is going to have huge expectations. Supported by Real Madrid teammate Pepe, as well as some tricky individuals in midfield, Portugal may well fancy a run into the latter stages. However, just as Italy are perpetually underestimated, Portugal continue to be perpetually overestimated.

  Liga Adelante

Portugal Verdict: 5/10

Portugal maintained their reputation as the anti-Italy. A bunch of talented individuals who continually fail to link up as a unit. If there is to be one black mark in the sparkling career of Cristiano Ronaldo, it will undoubtedly be his performances internationally. Same old disappointment from Portugal.

 

Iceland Expectations: 4/10

Iceland lit up the qualifying stages with two stunning victories over the Netherlands but they come to France with no expectations in their debut tournament.

Iceland Verdict: 6/10

A solid, level-headed performance. They could easily have fallen out of the game after Portugal took the lead but remained unfazed. After collecting themselves they created a beautiful goal, showing real unity and determination to hang on to the point. They have done themselves and their country proud.

 

 

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