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Euro 2016: Debutants Iceland cool down Portugal with stunning draw

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Euro 2016: Debutants Iceland cool down Portugal with stunning draw

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  • Portugal 1-1 Iceland
  • Hungary 2-0 Austria

Iceland began their very first European Championship finals by holding Portugal to a thrilling 1-1 draw in their Group F opener in St Etienne.

The game began at a frantic pace with Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani sounding the warning bells to their Nordic opposition throughout the first half an hour.

Iceland did threaten on occasion, notably in the first three minutes through Gylfi Sigurdsson, but Portugal’s overall early dominance was transformed into a 1-0 lead on 31 minutes when Nani clinically slotted home from close range a powerful square ball by Andre Gomes on the right.

Nani has now scored in back-to-back competitive international games for the first time since September 2008.

Portugal, who have reached at least the semi-finals in four of their six appearances at the tournament, continued to pile the pressure on Iceland but Fernando Santos’ men could not capitalize and double their lead before the whistle blew for half-time.

Portugal began the second half much the same as they played throughout the first – in control and with the lion’s share of the possession. But against the run of play Iceland stunned their opponents.

Five minutes after the re-start Johann Gudmundsson delivered a superb inswinging cross from the right flank that found Birkir Bjarnason unmarked at the far post.

The Basel midfielder made no mistake and powerfully volleyed past a helpless Rui Patrício and make history by scoring Iceland’s very first goal at a major tournament.

The final ten minutes of the match was end-to-end stuff as both teams went in search of the winner and both goals under serious threat. But neither side could find that elusive goal to clinch the win and the points were shared between them.

A great and historic day for Iceland but a frustrating one for Portugal and its talisman Ronaldo, who won his 127th cap to equal Luis Figo’s Portuguese record.

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Hungary upset the Austrian form book

Hungary upset the odds to beat the world’s 10th-ranked team Austria 2-0 in an entertaining Euro 2016 Group F opener at the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux.

It took 63 minutes for the deadlock to be broken – Adam Szalai stabbing home ahead of the advancing Robert Almer.

With three minutes left and Austria hunting the equalizer Zoltan Stieber counter attacked and chip in the second to hand Hungary only their second win in three Euro finals appearances – their only other victory at the European Championship came in June 1964 against Denmark.

Hungary are playing their first Euro’s in 44 years.

It was only the second time these nations have played each other at the major tournament finals – the first was at 1934 World Cup, when Austria won 2-1 in the quarter-finals. Hungary have waited a long time for revenge and it came on Tuesday evening in Bordeaux.

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Person of the day

Iceland’s Birkir Bjarnason, who made history by scoring his country’s first ever goal at a major tournament

Looking forward to tomorrow

Russia’s early campaign has been overshadowed by hooligans.

Russia have been fined 150,000 euros for supporter violence in Marseille and have also been issued with a suspended disqualification by Uefa.

Leonid Slutsky’s men will look to draw the attention back to the pitch when they take on Slovakia in their second Group B match in Lille whilst hunting a first win after snatching a late draw against England in their opener.

Jan Kozak’s Slovakia meanwhile are searching their first points after they lost their first fixture 2-1 to Wales.

Although this will be the ninth time these sides have faced each other it is a first at the European Championship finals.

Romania hunting first points against Switzerland

Despite losing their opener in the dying stages to hosts France last Friday, Romania should be boosted by their enterprising performance at the Stade de France.

They’ll look to pick up their first points of the competition however when they face Switzerland at the Parc des Princes in Paris in their second Group A fixture.

Xherdan Shaqiri presents Switzerland’s main threat and he’ll certainly test Romania’s back line as his side look to advance to the knock-out stages of the Euros for a very first time in France.

Backing up their efficient 1-0 win over debutants Albania with victory over Romania will all but ensure the Swiss achieve that goal.

Skipper-less Albania face up-hill battle against hosts

Wednesday’s late match sees hosts France lock horns with Albania.

Didier Deschamps men head into the Group A tie at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille as overwhelming favourites and victory should send them through to the last 16 of their own competition.

Although France will be well aware of a potential slip up as the last time these two sides met Albania triumphed 1-0.

That should give Albania some cause for optimism although facing the French in a major competition and on home soil is an altogether different proposition.

To add to their up-hill battle Albania will have to do without the services of their captain Lorik Cana, who is suspended after being sent off in the 1-0 defeat by Switzerland.

The day in photos

Euro 2016 day 5

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