Euro 2016 round up: Portugal 1 Iceland 1 - and what the result means

Cristiano Ronaldo (left) of Portugal reacts at the final whistle during the Uefa Euro 2016 group F preliminary round match between Portugal and Iceland.
Cristiano Ronaldo (left) of Portugal reacts at the final whistle during the Uefa Euro 2016 group F preliminary round match between Portugal and Iceland.PHOTO: EPA

Three years ago, Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson considered himself a part-time footballer and a full-time film director.

On Tuesday, he found the cameras trained on him instead at the European Championship. The highlight reel of Iceland's major tournament debut would probably make good viewing for the 32-year-old, even if he conceded a goal.

Halldorsson had more touches than any other Iceland player in the first half (30). And his heroics alongside his defenders, coupled with Portugal's prolificacy in front of goal, gave Iceland a precious point in Group F.

Portugal had 26 shot attempts - the most by any side in Euro 2016, with 10 hitting the target. One of those came in the 30th minute, when Fenerbahce forward Nani opened the scoring from close range after good work from Andre Gomes on the right flank.

But Portugal paid the price for their wastefulness when Iceland midfielder Birkir Bjarnason volleyed home an equaliser five minutes into the second-half.

Nani and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo had further chances to put Portugal back into the lead. The smallest nation (population of 330,000) ever to feature at a European Championship, however, stood tall at the Stade Geoffroy Gulchard in Saint-Etienne.

What started out as a day when Ronaldo could become the first player to score in four European Championships ended with Iceland making history of their own.

 
 

Match highlights

- Gylfi Sigurdsson got the ball on the left flank in the fourth minute. He cut inside and unleashed a shot in the box but Rui Patricio blocked it. The rebound fell to the Swansea midfielder again and he could only direct his second attempt straight at the goalkeeper.

- Halldorsson pulled off a reflex save to prevent an unmarked Nani from opening the scoring in the 20th minute. Ronaldo had worked the space for a cross from the left flank with some nifty footwork, but Nani's header is kept out.

- Ten minutes later, Nani could not be denied. Gomes played a one-two with Vieirinha, charged down the right flank and produced a low cross for Nani to sidefoot home at the near post from close range.

- Iceland got their equaliser five minutes after the restart. Bjarnason lost his marker, full-back Vieirinha, and volleyed Johann Gudmundsson's cross into the back of the net.

- In the 71st minute, Nani headed just wide from from Vieirinha's inswinging free kick with Halldorsson stranded.

- Halldorsson saved Ronaldo's header from point blank rage in the 85th minute.

The talking point

Will Ronaldo, the best European footballer of his generation, be able to lead Portugal to a deep run in this tournament? June 14 will be remembered as the day when the minnows overshadowed the teams that boasted golden generations. Hungary's shock win over Austria was swiftly follwed by a stunning draw for Iceland. On paper, these two teams are inferior. But their collective spirit and willingness to work hard have made up for their lack of individual stars.

Man of the Match

Nani. By far the most dangerous player on the pitch. His passing and movement saw him involved in Portugal's best chances. He got his goal and could easily have had a hat-trick.

What the result means

Group F's standout fixture between Portugal and Austria on Saturday has become monumental for both sides. Tipped to win the group, Portugal now face a fight to progress to the knockout stages. This Euro probably represents 31-year-old Ronaldo's best chance at winning silverware with Portugal and his side can ill-afford another poor result.

Iceland, on the other hand, can go into their match against Hungary on Saturday without much pressure. With four third-best teams progressing to the round of 16, another point could be enough to ensure that they will feature in the knockout stages.

Key statistic

Ronaldo had 10 shots, but only one was on target.

What they said

Iceland co-manager Heimir Hallgrimsson: "It's really good to have a point. We can go a little bit more relaxed into the next game. But with a win against Hungary we are probably nearly there."

Portugal manager Fernando Santos: "We should've scored more goals: that's no secret... There are always difficulties in the first game. I think we'll bounce back to play two great matches."