KR and FH give Iceland cause for celebration

Iceland is celebrating a notable UEFA Europa League night after KR Reykjavík beat MŠK Žilina 3-0 and FH Hafnarfjördur gave Portuguese side CD Nacional a run for their money.

KR celebrate after Kjartan Finnbogason (centre) puts them 3-0 up against Žilina
KR celebrate after Kjartan Finnbogason (centre) puts them 3-0 up against Žilina ©KR Reykjavík

KR Reykjavík coach Rúnar Kristinsson admitted his side had "planned to sit back" as they created the biggest shock of the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round first legs, beating MŠK Žilina 3-0 in Iceland.

Pavel Hapal's team had played in the UEFA Champions League group stage last season, but proved no match for the Icelandic Premier League leaders. Captain Bjarni Gudjónsson put KR ahead from on 25 minutes and Viktor Bjarki Arnarsson doubled the lead early in the second half, shortly after Peter Šulek was shown a second yellow card for the visitors from Slovakia.

Although Kjartan Finnbogason made it 3-0 from the penalty spot, former Lillestrøm SK and KSC Lokeren OV player Kristinsson felt the hosts might even have scored more. "Žilina tried to come forward and get an away goal but after our third we had chances for a fourth and even a fifth," he said. "You have to say it was a convincing victory.

"I don't think anyone expected us to win 3-0 but we were disciplined and well organised," added Kristinsson. "We planned to sit back but my players were pressing well and then we pushed further forward. After Žilina lost a man we had more space. We kept the ball better and after our second the game was in our hands.

"I didn't need to control the players from the sidelines – they did it all themselves," he continued. "We know it is going to be tough at their place next week. I know from experience it is not good to defend too deep. We have some quick forwards and will try to make the most of them because one away goal can make all the difference."

KR were not the only Icelandic club celebrating on Thursday, with cup holders FH Hafnarfjördur achieving a very respectable 1-1 draw at home to Portugal's CD Nacional. Defender Freyr Bjarnason cancelled out Edgar Costa's opener, before FH threatened a winner when Atli Björnsson smacked a shot against the post on 71 minutes.

"I'm a little bit sad we did not win," said boss Heimir Gudjónsson. "We could have done even better. It was bad they got an away goal through our clumsiness but this was one of our best games this season. I'm optimistic about the second leg but we know they will play better at home."