15 Jun 2016

Portugal held by Iceland in Euro 2016 opener

10:00 am on 15 June 2016

Rank outsiders Iceland enjoyed a superb big-stage debut as they clinched a shock 1-1 draw against Euro 2016 Group F favourites Portugal.

Portugese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo

Portugese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo Photo: PHOTOSPORT

It was a miserable evening for Portugal's top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo even though he equalled Luis Figo's record of 127 appearances for his country.

Iceland produced a typically industrious performance on their debut in a major tournament with winger Birkir Bjarnason cancelling out Nani's first-half opener.

A string of good saves by goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, coupled with Ronaldo's wasteful finishing, was a significant factor for Iceland.

Roared on by their fans, Iceland got the equaliser out of the blue in the 50th minute as Bjarnason swept in a teasing Johann Gudmundsson centre.

It seemed to take the wind out of Portugal's sails, with Ronaldo looking short of pace, although Nani came close to restoring their lead after a glancing header sailed just wide.

Hungary top group F after beating Austria 2-nil.

It was Hungary's first appearance at a European Championship for 44.

Austria, riding a wave of national euphoria following an impressive qualifying run, were the better side for most of the game but left the pitch still dreaming of their first-ever win in the finals.

Hungary, once world football powerhouses and now eager to bounce back following decades of under-achievement, weathered the Austrian storm.

Gabor Kiraly, who became the first 40-year-old to appear at a European Championship, may be carrying a few extra kilos but the bald keeper with the trademark grey tracksuit bottoms, made a telling save in each half.

The Hungarians no longer boast formidable talents like Ferenc Puskas or Sandor Kocsis and the glory days of the 1950s, when they reshaped football's landscape with a brilliant attacking game, are long gone.

A rare goal in the 62nd minute by forward Adam Szalai and a late one from substitute Zoltan Stieber rewarded them for a spirited, if less than glittering, performance.

Austria, by contrast, were reminded that converting goal chances is the only way to win a game.

Things not going their way, they ran out of steam in the second half and had centre back Aleksandar Dragovic sent off for a second bookable offence.

Hungary have not appeared in a major tournament since the 1986 World Cup and their previous European Championship appearance was in 1972.

Just being here is a notable achievement for a team that needed a playoff win over Norway to book a trip to France where nobody expects them to excel.

Hungary have a long way to go to frighten the likes of world champions Germany or holders Spain and history will probably be a heavy load to carry for some time. But at least they seized the opportunity to write a new chapter in their fabled story.