Euro 2016: Ronaldo denied as Iceland, Hungary make history
PARIS, France – Minnows Iceland denied Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo on his record-equaling 127th international appearance to claim a 1-1 draw in their first ever major finals match at Euro 2016 on Tuesday, June 14.
Hungary topped Group F after a day of surprises as they shocked well-fancied Austria 2-0 to register a first win for 30 years at a major international tournament.
Ronaldo equaled Luis Figo's record number of caps yet, it was a quiet night for the Real Madrid forward, who failed to become the first man to score in 4 European Championships as he was frustrated by Iceland's dogged defense and a great display from goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson.
A superb finish by Ronaldo's former Manchester United teammate Nani gave Portugal a half-time lead in Saint Etienne.
However, Iceland – the smallest country ever to feature at a Euro finals with a population of just 330,000 people – weren't to be denied as midfielder Birkir Bjarnason slammed home an equalizer just 5 minutes into the second-half.
"We were playing a really good team and the best player in the world, the last 35 minutes were really long after we'd equalized," said Halldorsson.
"I'm touched to have experienced this moment with these incredible fans behind us."
In Bordeaux second-half goals from Adam Szalai and Zoltan Stieber saw Hungary stun 10-man Austria to mark a glorious return to the big time having not qualified for a major tournament since the 1986 World Cup.
Austria, tipped as tournament dark horses, dominated the opening period, but went behind when Szalai ended an 18-month goal drought to open the scoring.
And Stieber triggered delirious celebrations when he raced from just inside the Austria half to beat Robert Almer 3 minutes from time with a sublime chip.
"The players played out of their skins," said Hungary coach Bernd Storck, who had previously described just qualifying for the tournament as a "miracle."
"This game today against such a difficult team, we had to play some very good football. We had a bit of luck, but you need a bit of luck in football."
Austria coach Marcel Koller bemoaned a disappointing performance which cranks up the pressure on his side ahead of Saturday's crucial game against Portugal in Paris.
"Unfortunately we weren't able to do what we wanted today," he said.
"Maybe some players were nervous because it was the beginning. We can't just push a button and say 'Now I'm going to play at my best level'.
"The situation now is we'll have to try and win against Portugal."
Whilst, group favorites Portugal and Austria face off for a first win, pool leaders Hungary next take on Iceland in Marseille on Saturday. – Kieran Canning Martyn Wood, Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com