Andrés Iniesta was again the scourge of Iceland as ten-man Spain salvaged a late draw in Reykjavik to take the visitors into joint second place in UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying Group F.
The FC Barcelona midfielder had scored an 80th-minute winner in the sides' meeting in March and he repeated the trick at the Laugardalsvöllur Stadium – this after Xabi Alonso had been sent off midway through the first half and Emil Hallfredsson headed Iceland into a 40th-minute lead. Just when it seemed the hosts were in sight of a famous win, Iniesta struck four minutes from time to rescue a point that lifts Spain to 16 points, level with second-placed Northern Ireland and three behind Sweden.
Before kick-off there was a minute's silence in memory of Spain midfielder Antonio Puerta who died last week. Luis Aragonés's team, coming into this match on the back of a six-game winning run, were quickly on the attack, David Villa forcing a fine save from Iceland keeper Árni Arason with a low free-kick. The complexion of the tie changed in the 20th minute, however, when Alonso was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Arnar Vidarsson – Iceland would have made their numerical advantage count immediately had Joey Gudjonsson not prodded wide with only Iker Casillas to beat.
Sergio Ramos and Fernando Torres went close for the visitors, yet it was Iceland who seized the initiative five minutes before half-time when Gudjonsson curled in a deep right-wing cross and Hallfredsson placed a diving header into the bottom corner. Forced to push forward, Spain dominated possession thereafter but created few clear-cut chances; by contrast, Casillas did well to deny Gunnar Heidar Thorvaldsson. But with Iceland four minutes away from victory, substitute Iniesta collected Luis García's lay-off to advance into the penalty area and slide a shot beyond Arason. Both sides will have home advantage on Wednesday, when Iceland entertain Northern Ireland and Spain tackle Latvia.