Birkir Sævarsson’s 88th-minute own goal salvaged Hungary a deserved UEFA EURO 2016 Group F point and denied Iceland their first victory in the finals of a major tournament.
In desperately lunging to cut out substitute Nemanja Nikolić’s low delivery across the six-metre box, the right-back turned the ball past Hannes Halldórsson. It cancelled out a 40th-minute advantage given them by Gylfi Sigurdsson’s spot kick. However, they might still have won it in Marseille, substitute Eidur Gudjohnsen having a shot deflected wide at the death.
After an uncertain first half-hour, Iceland warmed to the task, threatening when Johann Gudmundsson was denied by the outstretched right leg of Gábor Király after outmuscling Tamás Kádár in the area.
It was an error from the much-talked-about veteran keeper, though, that led to the opener. The 40-year-old Király failed to gather Gudmundsson’s corner and in the ensuing scramble for possession, Kádár brought down captain Aron Gunnarsson. Sigurdsson kept his cool from the spot.
Hungary’s second-half advances were unrelenting, although like the first period Lars Lagerbäck and Heimir Hallgrímsson’s men fashioned the better openings. Kolbeinn Sigthórsson headed wide Sigurdsson’s left-wing cross on a rare counterattack, and after the scores were levelled, a last-gasp free-kick on the edge of the Hungary box prompted a late burst of drama. Gudjohnsen’s low drive was diverted off target after Sigurdsson’s attempt bounced back off the wall.
Man of the match: Kolbeinn Sigthórsson (Iceland)
Sigthórsson proved a handful for the Hungarian back line all afternoon, winning ten aerial duals and laying on an opportunity for his colleagues. The No9 also helped out defensively whenever needed, making two clearances.
Iceland kept six clean sheets, including two against the Netherlands, in their fairy-tale qualification campaign. A line-up that frustrated Cristiano Ronaldo on Tuesday was even stingier here. Centre-backs Ragnar Sigurdsson, on the scene to block from Balázs Dzsudzsák at one stage in the first period, and Kári Árnason repelled almost everything Hungary chucked their way. The late twist was a cruel blow.
Simple but effective
The underdogs against Portugal, when there was no expectation of them, Iceland entered this game as slight favourites with some bookmakers – a situation they cannot have encountered too often. Still, they never wavered from the plan they had adopted in their opener. The debutants sat deep, remained compact and hit on the break when the opportunity arose. It almost worked.
Saved at the last
Hungary forced the issue from the off and dominated possession; at full time it was 67% in their favour. After the euphoria of the 2-0 win against Austria, Bernd Storck’s boys were set to come crashing back to earth – and with Portugal to come on matchday three they were facing an uncertain future – until Sævarsson unwittingly gave them a leg up.