Euro 2016: Matchday 2 in Group F

Cormac O'DonnellEuropean Championship0 Comments

Iceland were cruelly denied an historic first victory in the European Championships, whilst Cristiano Ronaldo had a night to forget in Paris as Portugal slumped to another draw.

Hungary celebrate Iceland's late own goal. Courtesy: independent.co.uk

Hungary celebrate Iceland’s late own goal. Courtesy: independent.co.uk

Iceland 1-1 Hungary

Two of the lowest ranked teams in the tournament battled out a draw in a close encounter at the Stade Velodrome. Iceland were rewarded a soft penalty just before the break and star-man Gylfi Sigurdsson made no mistake in giving Iceland the lead.

Over time it became clear that Iceland’s hold on the game was slipping, fatigue rapidly taking over as Hungary increased the pressure on Iceland. The game was set up perfectly for a thrilling final ten minutes, both sides moments from a previously unimaginable qualification.

Iceland’s resolve finally broke two minutes from time when a low cross along the six-yard box forced Birkir Mar Saevarsson to despairingly turn the ball into his own net. If the defender can take any solace from the error it is that the looming Hungarian striker looked sure to level the game in Saevarsson’s absence. In the final moments Iceland were gifted a free-kick on the edge of the box. The stage was set for Icelandic legend Eidur Gudjohnsen to score the winner but his shot was deflected wide and the final whistle was blown.

Iceland Verdict: 6/10 (-)

Another solid performance from the smallest team in the tournament. Performing well above their level, they continue to show admirable resilience and were unlucky not to secure a legendary three points. They looked to be struggling much more with fatigue in this fixture, something which could be their downfall against Austria.

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Hungary Verdict: 6.5/10 (⇓0.5)

Not as bombastic as their opening performance against Austria but nonetheless a solid performance. They will be disappointed not to have dominated the game more forcefully but a point leaves them in a fantastic position with Portugal approaching.

Ronaldo sends the internet into meltdown after missing a vital penalty. Courtesy: theguardian.com

Ronaldo sends the internet into meltdown after missing a vital penalty. Courtesy: theguardian.com

Portugal 0-0 Austria

Portugal, true to form, struggled once more to turn powerful individual talent into a cohesive team performance. The match was supposed to be a tribute to their main man, and now record appearance holder, Cristiano Ronaldo. His comments against Iceland have received a huge backlash and piled pressure on the Real Madrid superstar to perform.

Austria offered little throughout the game but held strong against a superior side until around 70 minutes into the game when Portugal began to look like making their dominance count. Ronaldo’s moment appeared to have arrived when he was pulled down in the box. Thousands readied their thumbs on twitter to unleash ridicule when the Madrid man struck the post, the fourth miss in his last five penalties.

Only moments later, Ronaldo’s fortunes looked to have finally turned when he expertly flicked a header into the corner of the goal, only for the linesman’s offside flag to spoil the Portuguese party. The atmosphere was deflated on the final whistle, a point being far from ideal for both sides.

Portugal Verdict: 6.5/10 (⇑1.5)

It was difficult not to enjoy the frustrations of Cristiano Ronaldo after his recent disrespectful behaviour. Despite the disappointing result however, it was an improvement for Portugal who really should have won the game. The same problems emerged however, and it is difficult to see how they will fix the chemistry problem by their final group game against the confident Hungary.

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Austria Verdict: 5/10 (⇓1) 

Austria lacked the incisive flashes they showed against Hungary, Alaba being left isolated throughout. If Austria can combine their attacking threat from the first game, with their defensive solidity in this game, they could still be a threat in France.

How Things Stand

  Played Goal Difference Points
Hungary 2 +2 4
Iceland 2 2
Portugal 2 2
Austria 2 -2 1

A draw against Portugal will be enough to secure automatic qualification for Hungary. Both Iceland and Portugal require victories to ensure automatic qualification although a draw for either will be enough if the other loses. Nothing but a win will be enough for Austria who are also relying on Portugal to drop points in the final game.

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