Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill praised the second half efforts of his side, as they came from a goal ...Sun, Jun 11 2017
The Icelandic fairytale will continue into the last-16 with a massive clash against England after Arnór Ingvi Traustason's late, late goal gave Iceland a historic 2-1 victory over Austria in Saint-Denis.
This Iceland team had already made history by qualifying for Euro 2016. They made further history with a 1-1 draw against a flustered Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal in their first ever major tournament match. Then, they were minutes away from claiming a first ever win at a major finals only for an own goal to deny them three points against Hungary.
But finally, finally for the side joint-coached by Lars Lagerback and Heimir Hallgrímsson, they got the win that their efforts have most definitely deserved in France, and in the process they have ensured that they get to stay here until Monday.
Given the travails of England so far, maybe Iceland even fancy themselves to stay a bit longer. Lagerback mentioned after the game that he had an unbeaten record against the Three Lions from “five or six” encounters during his time as Sweden manager.
The result secured second in Group F for Iceland and sent Austria home. Tipped as dark horses by many before the tournament, Austria flattered to deceive in France, though they turned in an improved showing here. For a while, it looked like Iceland wouldn't hold out – Austria had a total of 23 attempts on goal, but couldn't make them count.
At a time like this it can be easy to forget how it started – and in this game, it started with Jon Dadi Bodvarsson's 18th minute strike. A long throw into the box was flicked on by Kári Árnason and the 1. FC Kaiserslautern frontman was able to take a good touch in the area before clinically firing beyond the helpless Robert Almer. 1-0 down, Austria were in trouble.
However, Unsere Burschen – translation “Our Boys” – were given a lifeline when David Alaba won a penalty in the 36th minute after being tugged back in the box by Skúlason. Austria boss Marcel Koller said after the game that he had two designated takers: Alaba and Aleksandar Dragovic.
In this moment, it was Dragovic who took the responsibility. He hit the post. Koller would later say that he couldn't blame the defender for being brave enough to step up. That will be of little consolation to Dragovic given how the game panned out. Though he would have been a relieved man when Austria did finally break through Iceland's stubborn resistance.
Collecting a pass from Alaba 30 yards from goal, substitute Alessando Schopf darted forward, evaded two challenges and coolly fired beyond Hannes Halldórsson to bring his side level. From here, it looked like Iceland would crack.
They were indebted to their 'keeper as Halldórsson made a number of key stops with the game poised at 1-1. He denied Schopf a second from close range in the 72nd minute and tipped over the bar from Alaba eight minutes later as Austria really upped the ante.
Then, the counter-attack which led to probably the greatest bit of commentary ever heard took place in the last minute of stoppage time. Iceland broke down the right side through substitute Elmar Bjarnason. With namesake Birkir and Arnór Ingvi Traustason as options, he squared across the box for the latter to slide in and write his name into folklore.
The translation, found on another YouTube clip, is just as good:
"Everything's open! Theódór Elmar! Is he alone on their side of the field? Three on two! Emmi [short for Elmar]! Inside the box! Inside the box! Emmi! YEEEEEES! YEEEEEES! YEEEEEES! YEEEEEES! YEEEEEES! YEEEEEES! We are winning! We have qualified to the 16 team final! We have qualified to the 16 team competition! We are winning Austria!
"The voice is gone, but that doesn't matter, we have qualified! Arnór Ingvi Traustason! Just scored! Iceland two, Austria one! What a moment! What a moment!
"What! The referee has called the game, and I have never, I have never felt this good! Arnór Ingvi Traustason guarantees us the first win in the Euros! We have never lost, don't forget that, we have never lost but the first win is a fact! Iceland two, Austria one. Thanks for coming Austria, thanks for coming!"
Thanks for coming Austria, with that defeat your winless run at the Euros has extended to six games. Iceland, meanwhile, continue to live the dream.
Iceland: Hannes Halldórsson; Birkir Saevarsson, Ragnar Sigurdsson, Kári Árnason, Ari Skúlason; Jóhann Berg Gudmundsson (Sverrir Ingi Ingason, 86), Aron Gunnarsson (Emil Hallfredsson, 65), Gylfi Sigurdsson, Birkir Bjarnason; Kolbeinn Sigthorsson (Arnór Ingvi Traustason, 80), Jon Dadi Bodvarsson (Theódór Elmar Bjarnason, 71).
Subs not used: Ingvar Jónsson (GK), Ogmundur Kristinsson (GK), Rúnar Már Sigurjónsson, Hordur Magnússon, Hjortur Hermannsson, Haukur Hauksson, Heimir Hallgrímsson, Eidur Gudjohnsen.
Bookings: A Skúlason (36), K Sigthorsson (51), K Árnason (78), H Hallórsson (82).
Austria: Robert Almer; Aleksandar Dragovic, Sebastian Prodl (Marc Janko, HT), Martin Hinteregger, Christian Fuchs; Florian Klein, Stefan Ilshanker (Alessando Schopf, HT), Julian Baumgartlinger, Marko Arnautovic; David Alaba; Marcel Sabitzer (Jakob Jantscher, 78).
Subs not used: Heinz Lindner (GK), Ramazan Ozcan (GK), Marcus Suttner, Gyorgy Garics, Rubin Okotie, Kevin Wimmer, Martin Harnik, Lucas Hinterseer.
Booked: M Janko (70).
Referee: Syzmon Marciniak (POL).
Extratime Man of the Match: K Arnason (Iceland).