Iceland hold Portugal to shock 1-1 draw
SAINT-ETIENNE, France (AP):
A goal from Birkir Bjarnason earned Iceland a shock 1-1 draw with Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal yesterday at the European Championship, the tiny Scandinavian nation's first ever match at a major tournament.
Iceland were second best for most of the Group F game and trailed to a first-half strike by Nani. But their players showed resilience throughout and took advantage of Portugal's profligacy in front of goal.
Bjarnason slotted home the equaliser in the 50th minute with a curled volley at the far post against the run of the play, moments after Ronaldo missed a chance to make it 2-0 when he shot wide.
Nani put Portugal in front with a clinical finish from close range on a day when Ronaldo equalled Luis Figo's Portugal record of 127 caps but lacked his usual composure and accuracy.
After a tight start, Portugal won the midfield battle and Nani turned Portugal's dominance of possession into a goal when he collected a cross from the right by Andre Gomes and steered the ball home at the near post in the 31st minute.
Portugal had wasted many good chances before then, notably in the 22nd minute when Ronaldo found Nani in the box with a precise cross. Nani jumped higher than the Iceland defenders but his powerful header hit the feet of keeper Hannes Halldorsson.
Playing high up the pitch, Portugal applied the pressure with plenty of movement off the ball and quick passing, forcing Iceland's midfielders to keep chasing the ball.
Portugal were made to pay for their misses early in the second half.
On one of Iceland's few scoring chances, Portugal defender Vieirinha lost track of Bjarnason at the far post and the winger volleyed home a cross from Johann Gudmundsson.
The equaliser soon lifted Iceland's morale and briefly unsettled Portugal.