Cyprus Mail

Iceland extend heroic run with last-gasp win

Bodvarsson celebrates with team mates after scoring a goal

Iceland continued their fairytale story at Euro 2016 by making it through to knockout stage after a stoppage-time winner gave them a deserved 2-1 victory against Austria in their final group match on Wednesday.

Substitute Arnor Ingvi Traustason scored from close range deep into added time after collecting a though ball from Elmar Bjarnasson following a swift counter-attack.

The last-gasp goal secured Iceland second place in Group F, level on five points with Hungary, who drew 3-3 with Portugal in an action-packed encounter, played at the same time in Lyon.

The Hungarians edged top spot by virtue of a better goal difference.

Portugal finished on three points and will go through as one of the best third-placed teams.

Austria, who had come to France as dark horses after a qualifying campaign featuring nine wins from 10 games, finish last and will go home with just one point after a 2-0 defeat by Hungary and a 0-0 draw with Portugal.

The smallest country ever to qualify for a European Championship, Iceland had started the tournament by holding Portugal and Hungary to 1-1 draws through resilient displays and will now face England in the last 16.

They stated well on a stormy night on the outskirts of Paris with forward Jon Dadi Bodvarsson putting them ahead with an angled shot from inside the box following a long throw-in from the right on 18 minutes.

Austria, needing a win to survive the group, levelled the tie on the hour mark when substitute Alessandro Schoepf raced into the box and surprised Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson with a low shot.

The Austrians had missed a great chance to equalise in the first half when they were awarded a penalty after David Alaba appeared to be held back in the box by left back Ari Skulason.

Aleksandar Dragovic sank to his knees in despair after hitting the post from the spot, allowing Iceland to hold on to their lead until the break.

Austria, who went into their final group game after a defeat by Hungary and a draw with Portugal, were hoping to survive the opening stage of a major tournament for the first time since the 1982 World Cup but it was not to be.

They again lacked firepower and their key player, Alaba, who is used to a more defensive role, looked lost in the playmaker position, which he occupied throughout the tournament.

Iceland, by contrast, offered a spirited display and took their chances bravely.

With a population of about 330,000, which is roughly the size of English city Leicester, home to the newly-crowned Premier League champions, Iceland were cheered on by a strong contingent of noisy fans wearing the side’s blue colours.

The Iceland supporters were clearly outnumbered by the red army of Austrian fans but most of the noise came from those in blue, who will always remember the night when they witnessed arguably the most remarkable feat in their country’s sporting history.

Iceland's players and fans celebrate after the match
Iceland’s players and fans celebrate after the match

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