Iceland hold France to boost play-off hopes

France 1-1 Iceland
Kristjan Gauti Emilsson's goal ten minutes from time earned a potentially invaluable point against Group 10 winners France.

Gudmundur Thórarinsson (left) takes on France's Florian Thauvin
Gudmundur Thórarinsson (left) takes on France's Florian Thauvin ©AFP/Getty Images

Kristjan Gauti Emilsson's goal ten minutes from time gave Iceland a potentially invaluable point in France.

The hosts in Auxerre had clinched first place in UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying Group 10 with a 5-1 win in Kazakhstan on Friday. But Iceland, assured of second spot, knew a result could make the difference in their bid to join France in the play-offs as one of the four best runners-up, and they duly took a point.

France put out a strong team and Iceland were content to hit them on the counter. Les Bleuets dominated the first half but Yaya Sanogo was kept well marked, though he found space in the second period. After one mazy run he was denied by Runar Runarsson and then struck the crossbar, Iceland blocking two subsequent efforts from the Arsenal FC forward.

Finally on 63 minute Sanogo registered with a superb volley after Florian Thauvin's tenth corner of the game was deviated into his path by Emilsson. But in a rare surge forward, Iceland levelled, Emilsson make amends by nodding in Gudmundur Thórarinsson's corner. Iceland now await Tuesday's results in other groups to see if they will join France in Friday’s draw for the October play-offs.

Pierre Mankowski, France coach
We have booked a play-off place and remain unbeaten, playing some attractive football in the process. Now comes the most important bit. France have failed in the play-offs three times recently, and we have missed out on the EUROs four times in a row now. I wouldn't say the expectations are an additional burden, quite in the contrary: it's an additional source of motivation – the players know it.

Eyjólfur Sverrisson, Iceland coachAgainst strong teams, we have the ability to defend well. The guys are organised and have a lot of discipline and patience, so that makes a coach's life easier!