Last-minute winner sees Iceland set up last-16 Euro 2016 clash with England
Minnows finish second in group F after 2-1 win over Austria
Substitute Arnor Ingvi Traustason’s last-gasp winner fired Iceland past Austria 2-1 in their final group F match at Euro 2016 on Wednesday to book a last-16 showdown with England.
Jon Dadi Bodvarsson swept Iceland into an 18th-minute lead at the Stade de France, with Austria paying dearly for Aleksandar Dragovic’s missed first-half penalty.
Substitute Alessandro Schoepf levelled for Austria on the hour, but Traustason’s 94th-minute strike condemned Marcel Koller’s side to a premature exit.
Iceland, the smallest nation to appear at a major finals, will play England in the last 16 in Nice after finishing second in the group, behind Hungary but above Portugal, following a thrilling 3-3 draw in Lyon.
Iceland defender Kari Arnason hailed the incredible unity within the team.
“I can’t really describe it. To do this with your best friends is fanstastic,” said Arnason. “This is extra sweet for us.
“We’re a tightly-knit group and what we’ve done is fantastic. It’s extra fun to do it besides my best friends and the supporters as well.
“Having 10,000 people from Iceland it’s unbelievable. I know probably at least 50 per cent of the crowd or at least recognise them.”
“I think everybody who was watching the game realised how much it meant to us. We were willing to sacrifice everything to win,” said Iceland’s joint coach Heimir Hallgrimsson.
“We were lucky on occasions but showed fantastic mentality throughout and there were a lot of tired legs.”
Iceland stuck with the same starting XI from their first two matches and were almost ahead inside two minutes at the Stade de France.
Gylfi Sigurdsson’s intricate flick found Johann Gudmundsson in plenty of space and the Charlton Athletic winger hammered a 30-yard drive that crashed against the crossbar.
Marko Arnautovic nearly punished Hannes Halldorsson after Iceland’s goalkeeper dallied on the ball, but the Stoke City player lost his footing with the goal gaping allowing Halldorsson to scramble clear.
Iceland grabbed the crucial opening goal on 18 minutes as Aron Gunnarsson’s long throw was helped on into the path of Bodvarsson who steered past Robert Almer with Austria’s defence slow to react.
Centre-back Kari Arnason sliced narrowly over after a corner was only partially cleared, but Austria began to threaten with Arnautovic testing Halldorsson before heading over from a Julian Baumgartlinger cross.
And Marcel Koller’s side should have levelled on 37 minutes when Ari Skulason was penalised for tugging the shirt of David Alaba inside the area.
Dragovic stepped up but the centre-back fired the spot-kick against the outside of the post as Iceland breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Birkir Bjarnason thought he had increased Iceland’s lead on 38 minutes, only for his effort to be correctly ruled out for offside.
Julian Baumgartlinger’s curling strike from distance forced Halldorsson to tip over, and Koller rolled the dice by throwing on Marc Janko and Alessandro Schopf for the second half.
It almost immediately paid off as Alaba swept a low right-footed strike towards the corner, but Arnason’s superb goal-line clearance denied the Bayern Munich star.
Sigurdsson embarked on a marauding run through the heart of Austria’s midfield but volleyed a difficult chance just wide.
Austria had Iceland pegged inside their own half though and it took a piece of individual brilliance on the hour from Schalke midfielder Schoepf to breathe life into the team.
The 22-year-old skipped into the area past two defenders before threading the ball just inside the far post for Austria’s first goal of the tournament.
Iceland still looked menacing though and Sigurdsson almost restored their lead on 65 minutes when his effort was rebuffed by Almer after a slick exchange of passes.
Schopf went close to firing Austria ahead after combining cleverly with Janko in the area, but Halldorsson blocked superbly with his legs.
Alaba’s dipping free-kick forced the Iceland keeper to turn over but Austria’s search for the crucial second goal saw them caught on the counter in the dying seconds as Traustason sealed a historic win.