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Iceland comeback checks France

France 2-2 Iceland
Gunnar Gudmundsson's side were two behind but struck twice in the final 14 minutes to claim a point against France in their opening Group A game.

Hjörtur Hermannsson celebrates his dramatic equaliser for Iceland
Hjörtur Hermannsson celebrates his dramatic equaliser for Iceland ©Sportsfile

Iceland staged a thrilling comeback to earn a point against France in their UEFA European Under-17 Championship Group A opener.

France appeared in control when Mohamed Chemlal gave them an early lead and Anthony Martial doubled their advantage after the interval. However, Gunnlaugur Birgisson pulled one back moments after coming on as a substitute and captain Hjörtur Hermannsson rescued a draw with three minutes remaining.

If Iceland already thought their task would be a tough one, there was no doubting it after seven minutes, when France put together a terrific move to take an early lead. A darting run by Hervin Ongenda, complete with a neat one-two with Louis Nganioni, eventually set up Chemlal on the edge of the area, and with his first touch he placed the ball beyond Fannar Hafsteinsson into the bottom left corner.

Despite that opener, clear-cut hances proved scarce in an even first half and it took until the second period, when Jean-Claude Giuntini's charges upped the ante, for the match to come to life.

France had Mike Maignan's point-blank save from Orri Sigurdur Ómarsson to thank for not conceding immediately after the restart, but the pendulum soon swung back France's way. On 51 minutes only a lack of composure prevented an unmarked Wesley Said from doubling Les Bleus' advantage after smart build-up play.

Substituted two minutes later, that miss proved to be Said's final act, but his replacement, Martial, made an immediate impact. Jean Corentin burst down the left wing, and his low, back-post delivery was gobbled up by the substitute on 56 minutes.

Iceland's hopes looked forlorn, but ten minutes later they halved the deficit. Birgisson became the second influential substitute of the day, heading in Oliver Sigurjónsson's corner a minute after entering the fray. Hafsteinsson played a vital role in denying France – a strong parry from Martial the highlight – and his team took advantage. Another wicked Sigurjónsson set piece was met by another emphatic header, Hermannsson the man on hand to complete an impressive comeback.