AMSTERDAM (REUTERS) - Iceland are on the verge of their first major championship finals after a controversial Gylfi Sigurdsson penalty earned a shock 1-0 Euro 2016 qualifying victory over 10-man Netherlands on Thursday.
The referee awarded the spot kick in the 51st minute, even though Gregory van der Wiel seemed to win the ball in a challenge with Birkir Bjarnason, and Sigurdsson squeezed his effort under goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen.
It completed a fairytale Group A double over the 2014 World Cup semi-finalists as Iceland took their points total to 18, two ahead of second-placed Czech Republic. The Dutch are third on 10 points.
"We are all flying now," said Iceland co-coach Heimir Hallgrimsson after the visitors had taken a travelling party of 3,000 fans to Amsterdam, around one percent of the small Nordic island nation's population.
"This is the biggest achievement in our football history."
Iceland can book a place at Euro 2016 by scoring a home win over Kazakhstan on Sunday.
The home defeat provided a horror start for new Dutch coach Danny Blind. His predecessor Guus Hiddink quit because of the team's unconvincing performances earlier in the campaign, including the 2-0 defeat in Iceland in October.
Robin van Persie, who led the attack at the World Cup in Brazil just over a year ago, was left on the bench by Blind.
New captain Arjen Robben and midfielder Wesley Sneijder put together some lively combinations early on but the injury-prone Robben went off after 27 minutes with a groin problem.
There were more Dutch woes six minutes later when Bruno Martins Indi lashed out at Iceland striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson as both tumbled to the ground and the Dutch defender was sent off.
Blind's men created few chances until late on when goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson made good stops from Georginio Wijnaldum and Sneijder.
Iceland went close to a second goal when Johann Gudmundsson struck the upright with a curling drive after being teed up by Bjarnason.
"They were well organised, very structured and difficult to break down," said Blind. "The turning point was the red card. I think Martins Indi acted unbelievably unprofessionally."