Ice-cool Iceland claim Portugal point in EURO 2016 Group F

Portugal 1-1 Iceland
The major finals debutants kicked off with a memorable draw in Group F thanks to Birkir Bjarnason's second-half leveller.

EURO 2016 highlights: Portugal 1-1 Iceland
EURO 2016 highlights: Portugal 1-1 Iceland
  • Portugal's Nani opens scoring with 600th goal in UEFA European Championship finals history
  • Birkir Bjarnason volleys in for debutants Iceland after break
  • Cristiano Ronaldo wins 127th cap, equalling Luís Figo's Portugal record
  • Next Group F games, 18 June: Iceland v Hungary, Portugal v Austria


Iceland held Portugal to a 1-1 draw in their first ever major finals appearance, frustrating their illustrious opponents to claim a memorable opening point in UEFA EURO 2016 Group F.

EURO 2016: All you need to know

The final game of matchday one was a big occasion for both teams, but especially for Iceland, and the debutants began with a spring in their step, almost taking the lead in the third minute when Rui Patrício was forced to save from Gylfi Sigurdsson – and to repeat the feat from the rebound as Sigurdsson tried again.

Ronaldo, Bale, Pogba – watch the best EURO 2016 set-piece goals
Ronaldo, Bale, Pogba – watch the best EURO 2016 set-piece goals

Portugal's qualities on the ball soon started to tell, however, and Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldórsson pulled out an incredible save with his legs as Nani headed goalwards from a Cristiano Ronaldo cross.

Winning a joint-record 127th cap for Portugal, the provider on that occasion then mistimed his swing at a Pepe pass from deep, but a goal was coming – and Nani delivered it just after the half-hour, turning in at the near post following slick interplay between André Gomes and Vieirinha. It was a landmark goal, the 600th in EURO finals history. 

Game over? Far from it. Given spirited backing by their fans, Iceland levelled within five minutes of the restart, an unmarked Birkir Bjarnason left free to volley in from Johann Gudmundsson's cross.

Portugal responded with the crisper passing and better chances, Nani flicking a header wide and Halldórsson denying Ronaldo, but Iceland were not about to let their efforts go unrewarded.

Highlights: The best saves of UEFA EURO 2016
Highlights: The best saves of UEFA EURO 2016

Man of the match: Nani
Portugal's scorer had five attempts in addition to his goal. He put in four crosses and laid on two chances for team-mates, completing 23/26 of his passes. He is the eighth-highest winger in the Player Barometer

The Fenerbahçe forward was only denied an even earlier goal by a remarkable save, though he did enough in his 97th appearance to show that opponents ignore him at their peril.

More than plucky underdogs
Famously the smallest nation to ever grace a major final tournament – with a population of just 330,000 – Iceland's presence in France has been framed as a fairy tale. In truth, it is the result of a strong coaching set-up at every age group back home and a talented crop of players. Tonight the newcomers gave an excellent account of themselves in Saint-Etienne.

Not content with sitting back, they could easily have struck first through Sigurdsson – and mustered an equaliser that their enterprising play and admirable character merited.

No panic yet for Portugal
Fernando Santos's men were expected by most neutrals to win this match, and they will have left the Stade Geoffroy Guichard with a few regrets. How could they not after seeing 66% of the ball and going close to adding a second on several occasions? Therein lie the reasons for a little perspective, however.

Portugal look to have a capable midfield, gifted options on the bench and, in Ronaldo, a proven superstar who will surely find his range at some point.

Relive Portugal’s path to the last eight
Relive Portugal’s path to the last eight

Team reporters' views from Stade Geoffroy Guichard
Joseph Walker, Portugal (@UEFAcomJoeW)

That was not a result many saw coming. For Portugal, it is back to the drawing board. The 4-4-2 with Ronaldo and Nani up top was less dangerous than they may have imagined, while the impact of substitutes Renato Sanches and Ricardo Quaresma poses selection questions.

Truth be told, it is a game Portugal could have won given the chances they carved out and on another day they would have, but it was a classic case of taking the opportunities that come your way.

Jóhann Sigurdsson, Iceland (@UEFAcomJohannS)
A great performance from Iceland here in Saint-Etienne, a performance that will give them a lot of confidence going into the Hungary match in Marseille. The team have certainly made the nation proud in their first major championship outing. But you can't forget the supporters in all of this. Superb throughout, they were certainly the 12th man out there today.

EURO 2016: Team of the Tournament
Iceland line up in Saint-Etienne
Iceland line up in Saint-EtienneGetty Images

Lineups

Portugal: Rui Patrício; Vieirinha, Ricardo Carvalho, Pepe, Guerreiro; João Mário (Quaresma 76), Danilo, Gomes (Eder 84), João Moutinho (Renato Sanches 71); Nani, Ronaldo (c)
Substitutes: Anthony Lopes, Eduardo, Bruno Alves, Fonte, William Carvalho, Rafa Silva, Eliseu, Cédric Soaes, Adrien Silva
Coach: Fernando Santos

Iceland: Halldórsson; Sævarsson, Árnason, R. Sigurdsson, Árnason, Skúlason; Gudmundsson (T. Bjarnason 90), Gunnarsson (c), G. Sigurdsson, B. Bjarnason; Bödvarsson, Sigthórsson (Finnbogason 81)
Substitutes: Kristinsson, Jonsson, Hauksson, Hermannsson, Ingason, Sigurjonsson, Magnusson, Hallfredsson, Traustason, Gudjohnsen
Coach: Lars Lagerbäck

Referee: Cüneyt Çakır (Turkey)