Last-gasp winner ensures Iceland’s fairytale run continues

Agnor Ingvi Traustason supplies dramatic finale to see off Austria’s challenge

 Iceland’s Aron Gunnarsson   and teammates celebrate after the final whistle of their victory over Austra  at Stade de France in Paris.  Photograph: Georgi Licovski/EPA

Iceland’s Aron Gunnarsson and teammates celebrate after the final whistle of their victory over Austra at Stade de France in Paris. Photograph: Georgi Licovski/EPA

 

Iceland 2 Austria 1

Agnor Ingvi Traustason supplied the rip-roaring dream climax to this game when with the very final touch of the ball he shot past Robert Almer to claim a dramatic winner and continue Iceland’s fairytale at this European Championship.

Traustason slid as he connected and for a moment appeared unsure if he had actually scored or hit the side-netting.

When the 23-year-old looked again and realised he had scored he rose to his feet and what followed was bedlam.

Finished second

Just about all of Iceland’s staff rushed on to the field to mob Traustason and amid sky-splitting noise the referee Szymon Marciniak blew for full time. It meant Heimir Hallgrimsson and Lars Lagerback’s men had finished second in Group F and will play England in Nice in the last-16 on Monday.

Iceland lined up in their familiar 4-4-2 and Johan Gudmundsson rattled Robert Almer’s right-post with a 25-yarder virtually from kick-off. .

It did not faze Austria and they were soon giving Iceland a scare. Hannes Halldorsson dawdled in front of his goal over a clearance and Marko Arnautovic stole the ball and appeared to have a simple tap-in. But the forward slipped on the turf and the danger fizzled out.

Iceland’s callowness was to prove no hindrance. From a corner along the left Aron Gunnarsson, the captain, saved the ball going safe with a header near the far post and Austria were fortunate not to concede.

They were about to and this was from a classic throw-in move. Gunnarsson flipped the ball into the area, Kari Arnason applied a flick-on, and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson beat Julian Baumgartlinger to slide past a wrong-footed Almer.

From there, though, the rest of this period was more or less controlled by Austria. Arnautovic produced a pivot-and-shot with his left foot that Halldorsson clutched gratefully. He also bulldozed through the Icelandic rearguard before running out of grass.

When the first half ended Austria had dominated and, sloppily, spurned the chance to be on level terms. The referee pointed to the spot after 36 minutes when he saw Ari Skulason pull at David Alaba’s arm as he jumped for a header. The left-back was booked but the defender Aleksandar Dragovic hit the post from the penalty.

But Austria began the second half strongly. Arnautovic bent in a cross from the left and when the ball broke Alaba fired it at Halldorsson and Arnason cleared. Next, Skulason lived rather dangerously. As a high ball dropped the area he stumbled and then “accidentally” fell into the Marcel Sabitzer but the referee said no penalty.

At the break Koller had brought on Marc Janko to play as the focal point, and Alessandro Schöpf, a midfielder, for the defender, Sebastian Prodl.

Schöpf gave Iceland a question they failed to answer. From a central position and in true Ricky Villa-style he weaved his way in and out, bamboozling the defence, before slotting home a terrific equaliser.

A pulsating game took the next turn when Sigurdsson was handed a golden chance to put Iceland back ahead, but he could not beat Almer. Schöpf then found the ball in space close-in but Halldorsson was his side’s saviour. Now, though, came a climax to remember.

Guardian Service

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