So it is finished. The group stage in Euro 2016 has come to an end, and after all the confusing advancement rules we have our round of 16 participants. Day 13 saw the game of the tournament as Hungary and Portugal played out a six goal thriller, while Ireland and Iceland showed they’re here for a reason. Take a look back at the final day of group play from France.
1) Biggest winner: Countries that end in the word “land”
Who would have thought Ireland and Iceland would be heading into the round of 16? Since the tournament has expanded it’s made it easier for some of the smaller countries to advance, Ireland took advantage of that coming in third with a late winner from Robert Brady to secure a spot among the four third place teams to advance. It’s likely that Brady will never have to pay for a drink in Ireland for the rest of his life.
Meanwhile, Iceland actually qualified as the 2nd place team, so had they been in the tournament under the old rules they still would have come out of the group stages. It’s been a remarkable tournament for the small island nation, and they will relish the chance to take on England in the round of 16.
2) Standout performer: Cristiano Ronaldo
Portugal needed the help of their superstar to drag them into the knockout stages and Ronaldo did just that. Scoring twice, including a cheeky backheel, gave his team enough to make it to the last 16. On top of that, Iceland’s win over Austria means that Portugal head over to the side of the bracket that doesn’t feature England, Spain, France, Germany or Italy (or Iceland).
3) Biggest loser: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
This wasn’t supposed to be how Zlatan Ibrahimovic retired from international duty. By no means was his performance the problem, but rather he wasn’t given the service he needed to actually make a difference. When he got the ball he was immediately swamped by Belgian shirts as none of his teammates possessed the quality to trouble the Belgian net. It was a rough day for the 34-year-old, and a rough ending to his international career.
4) Best Tweet:
5) Biggest surprise: Hungary winning group F
What a sensational finish to group F. Hungary’s draw with Portugal did enough for them to secure top spot in their group. The once mighty soccer nation took part in the game of the tournament so far with a thrilling 3-3 draw against Portugal. Hungary will be disappointed they could not hold onto the lead that they held on three separate occasions, but moving onto the last 16 is more than enough as far as consolation prizes go.
6) Worst moment: Austria’s entire group stage
Oh Austria, everyone had such big hopes for you. However, only one point, and looking terrible getting it, was just a massive disappointment. Austria has never made it out of the group stages in a European Championship, but with a draw that included Iceland and Hungary, they looked to buck that trend. It was even more promising for them with the potential for a third place team making it out of the group. Austria still has a lot of talent, especially David Alaba who is only 23, so maybe they can figure it out for the next tournament.
7) Best goal:
8) Saturday’s games:
Following the group stage we get a few days off. The knock out stage gets under way Saturday with Switzerland taking on Poland at 9am Eastern. Wales plays Northern Ireland at noon Eastern and the last match of the day will be Croatia against Portugal at 3pm Eastern.
— UEFA EURO 2016 (@UEFAEURO) June 22, 2016