Icelandic midfielder Birkir Bjarnason, who scored Iceland’s equalizer against Portugal in their first game at the 2016 Euro Cup in Saint-Étienne, France, yesterday evening, said Iceland is thrilled about the draw.
“We certainly earned the point,” added goalkeeper Hannes Þór Halldórsson to Morgunblaðið. “Portugal is among the best teams in the world and to tie them in our first game in a major championship is mind-blowing.”
Hannes demonstrated first-class goal keeping when he deflected a header from Luís Nani in the first-half, although Nani ended up scoring the goal for Portugal with another header later on.
“All players should be given credit. We were marvelous for 90 minutes and couldn’t be happier with 1-1,” Birkir told RÚV. Iceland’s manager Lars Lagerbäck agrees.
“It’s obviously a fantastic feeling, it is. We played against one of the strongest teams at the Euro Cup. We certainly had to fight for [the draw] and the players did an amazing job. The defense they pulled off is what makes this game great in my opinion,” Lars told SVT Sport.
Lars admitted that his nerves had started to get to him in the last minutes. “Of course the pulse was a little higher towards the end.”
In nerve-wracking stoppage time, football superstar and Portugal’s captain Christiano Ronaldo was given two free kicks and two shots at winning the game for his team—but he blew them.
“As a team, we played exceptional defense, and this feeling, to play our first game at a major championship for Iceland with 8,000 Icelanders on our side and with the extended family at the game was indescribably,” Hannes went on.
Iceland’s next game is against Hungary on Saturday. Hungary tops Group F after a 2-0 victory against Austria.