No one saw that coming. Two big results today as Iceland and Hungary shook group F up with two big performances. Can Austria turn it around, and can a Ronaldo-led Portugal pick up their play? We take a look back at day 5 of the European Championships.
1) Biggest winner: Underdogs
Austria and Portugal went into today looking like the favorites in group F but finished the day dropping points to teams they have to feel they should have beaten. Hungary, who were once upon a time considered the world’s best team, thoroughly outclassed an up and coming Austria team lead by David Alaba. Iceland meanwhile surprised a Portuguese side that features Cristiano Ronaldo. The global superstar couldn’t find a way to push his side over a hardworking Iceland team making their first ever appearance in a major tournament
2) Standout performer: Hannes Thór Halldórsson
If not for the Icelandic keeper Hannes Thór Halldórsson, it could have been a very different day for the tournament newcomers. While the Iceland defense did well all day and deserve a great deal of credit, it was Halldórsson who bookended the match with two stunning stops. His save late in the game against Ronaldo was terrific, but his early first-half stop to deny Nani was world class. He’s also a film director and directed the music video for Iceland’s 2012 Eurovision entry.
3) Biggest loser: Ronaldo
It’s a little unfair to Ronaldo, considering how much of a team sport soccer is, but he expects himself to be great. Tonight he wasn’t. He had his moments, like a lovely cross to Nani in the first half, but he was quiet for most of the match. His two free-kick attempts just before full-time were an opportunity for him to put his team on his shoulders, but both attempts turned out to be timid shots into the wall. Ronaldo, who’s weekly salary in dollars at Real Madrid is a larger number than Iceland’s total population will need to be better from here on out.
4) Best tweet:
If Iceland keep defending this well, the white walkers have no chance.
— Copa90 (@Copa90) June 14, 2016
5) Biggest surprise: Hungary defeat Austria 2-0
Yes, Iceland’s draw with Portugal was a surprise, but considering the form of both teams it might not be the most shocking result of the day, and we may be confusing a genuine feel good story with an actual shock. Austria is considered by many to be a dark horse at EURO 2016, but in their group F opener, they completely fell apart. Hungary was the better team by some stretch, and when the Austrian’s went down to 10 men it became clear who was going to come away with 3 points. No one had Hungary at the top of Group F after match day 1.
6) Worst moment: Pep’s dangerous tackle
I don’t know if Pepe has a PR team, but he should probably get one. He wasn’t going to win any popularity contests after his absurd play-acting in the Champions league final, and he did himself even fewer favors today. After getting bumped into, Pepe went down rather easily before lunging at an Iceland player with his studs up, in a motion ESPN dubbed the chopstick tackle.
Pepe just invented the chopstick tackle! pic.twitter.com/fBMgAYgdD5
— Onefootball (@Onefootball) June 14, 2016
7) Best goal: Zoltan Stieber (Hungary)
A lovely chip from Stieber saw Hungary finish off the game against Austria.
8) Extra time
Group F, which never seemed to be the most glamorous, received quite a shakeup today. With the possibility of 3 teams from that group advancing, it becomes impossible to know for certain who’s going to be going through. If Austria and Portugal can rebound they could still finish in the two automatic spots, but if Iceland and Hungary can continue their impressive play it could make for one entertaining finale to group play in EURO 2016.
9) Tuesday’s games
Match day 2 begins on Wednesday with France and Albania playing at 3pm eastern in Marseille, while at noon eastern Switzerland plays Romania in Paris. The big game might be the early one, however, as Russia and Slovakia play in Villeneuve-d’Ascq, near Lille. This match is notable because of recent violence from some of the Russian supporters. If any more incidents occur involving the Russian fans their country may be expelled from the tournament. All matches will once again be on ESPN.