Iceland are in with a chance of qualifying for their first major championship finals after a 2-1 victory in the Faroe Islands.
Tonight's visitors in Tórshavn now have 12 points from six matches to sit on top of UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifying Group 5. They are one point ahead of Germany, having played a game more, although they now face home and away contests against the 2002 FIFA World Cup finalists.
First up is a home match against the Germans on 6 September. "That match will be very difficult but we have a chance in Reykjavik," said Iceland coach Asgeir Sigurvinsson. Even one point would take Iceland tantalisingly close to a place in Portugal next summer. "We knew that this would be a difficult game, but I am still not satisfied with our passing," Sigurvinsson added. "We are now top of the group and will enjoy this position for the next few days."
The victory made football history for Iceland who have never previously topped a UEFA European Championship or World Cup group at such a late stage in the qualifying campaign. Eidur Gudjohnsen, who opened the scoring for the visitors, said: "
This is a great day for everyone in Iceland."
Gudjohnsen had scored in the sixth minute, with an angled shot from the edge of the box, to give his side the early initiative. Petur Marteinsson stumbled in the winner from close range after a corner in the 70th minute, five minutes after Rógvi Jacobsen had pulled the home side level with a header. Marteinsson was a late addition to the squad earlier this week after fitness concerns over defender Larus Sigurdsson.
After welcoming Germany next month, Iceland make the return trip on 11 October. Their other rivals for a top-two finish are Scotland, who are now third in the group with eight points from five games. The Faroese remain bottom of the pile and will hope to add to their one point to date when they travel to Scotland on 6 September.
Faroe Islands coach Henrik Larsen was in upbeat mood despite defeat. "You can't be happy when you lose, but there was a lot of progress made today, and at the end I felt we deserved a draw."