Euro 2016 Group F Roundup: Ronaldo heroics enough as Portugal finish 3rd, with Hungary and Iceland 1st and 2nd
Portugal and Hungary play out a thrilling 3-3 draw, as Hungary top Group F
All the attention was on Cristiano Ronaldo before the game, and for good reason – the Portuguese striker started the game, becoming the player with the most appearances in the Euros. The entirety of the Hungary side had scored only 2 more goals than Ronaldo in international football but did not look awed at all.
It was the Nemzeti Tizenegy who shocked their more illustrious opponents in the 18th minute with Zoltan Gera giving the Hungarians the lead. The former Fulham and West Brom midfielder received the ball on the edge of the box after a corner was cleared to him, and he lashed home a powerful volley across a crowd of players into the bottom right corner right under a diving Rui Patricio’s hands.
Ronaldo went close with a free-kick as Kiraly denied him on the half-hour mark, but the Real Madrid talisman was not to be denied further. He produced a telling contribution in the 42nd minute, threading a wonderful through ball diagonally to meet Nani’s intelligent run, who responded by shooting first time to beat Kiraly at his near post and give Portugal some hope, with the scores tied going into the break.
The second half was an explosion of goals and Hungary and Portugal traded goals. First, Dzsudzsák gave Hungary the lead in the 47th minute to deflate the Portuguese fans, as the Hungarian winger’s free kick deflected off Andre Gomes past Rui Patricio into the net. However, Ronaldo was not to be denied, producing a stunning back-heeled finish from Joao Mario’s cross to equalise for Portugal in the 50th minute.
The game continued to produce drama, as Dzsudzsák gave Hungary a 3-2 lead in the 55th minute, as his shot from range took a deflection of Nani and sent the gathered Hungarian fans wild yet again. However, Ronaldo single-handedly dragged his side back into contention, heading home from Joao Mario’s left wing cross in the 62nd minute, and send the Portuguese fans wild.
Ronaldo went close with multiple chances as the half progressed, denied by teammates, officials and opponents as he produced an individual performance to be remembered for years to come. However, the striker could not score his hat-trick to earn a win for Portugal, and had to settle for 3rd place as Iceland and Hungary went through. Portugal went through on account of being the 3rd best 3rd placed team after Slovakia and Northern Ireland, with Group E yet to be decided.
Iceland stun Austria 2-1 to finish in 2nd place of Group F
Iceland went into this fixture in 2nd place in Group F on 2 points and started the game unlike their tag of minnows. Gudmundsson let fly with a thunderbolt from 25 yards just 2 minutes in and watched in agony as his shot cannoned off the post. However, the Icelanders were soon celebrating in the 18th minutes, as Bodvarsson gave the Euro 2016 debutants a shock lead, profiting from Gunnarsson’s throw in as the ball was flicked on to him in the box, taking a touch and slamming the ball across goal.
David Alaba earned a penalty after he was held back in the box a few minutes after the half-hour mark. Austria needed to win to stand any chance of qualifying and thus were happy to have the chance to draw a goal back – however, Dragovic stepped up to take the penalty and crashed his effort against the post, with Iceland holding on to take the lead going into the break.
Alessandro Schöpf produced a stunning goal in the 60th minute, to give the Austrian fans some hope, as he slalomed through the Iceland defence after collecting the ball from Alaba and finished with a deft finish. Austria went full tilt in final minutes in search of a winner and paid the price as Traustason scored in injury time from a counter, to set up a mouth-watering clash with England by qualifying in 2nd place.
Final Group F standings