In a rather underwhelming game Hungary and Iceland were forced to accept a point apiece in Group F. The result means Iceland will need at least a point in their final game, while Hungary are on the brink of the last 16.
Iceland and Hungary were forced to accept a point apiece on Saturday afternoon after a 1-1 draw between the two sides ensured both teams are still in contention for qualification as they go in to the final fixture of the group stages.
Iceland approached Saturday’s game in a similar fashion to the manner in which they wrestled a point off of Portugal in their opening game, with a clear, defensive formation as well as the intention of breaking on the counter and at set pieces.
Hungary, on the other hand, were tasked with taking the game to the European minnows which ultimately left space to be exposed behind a fragile defensive line. It didn’t take long before Lars Lagerback’s side began to test it.
In the tenth minute Jon Dadi Bodvarsson set the tone for the remainder of the opening half, when he headed the ball just inches over the Hungarian crossbar from a corner, suggesting that the Icelandic game plan may just work.
Indeed, Johann Gudmundsson came even closer 20 minutes later when a tactical shoulder barge allowed him enough time and space away from his pursuer, Roland Juhasz, to get a shot away in the Hungarian six-yard box. Unfortunately he fluffed the golden opportunity and smacked his shot straight at the out-rushing goalkeeper.
However if the Hungarian keeper, Gabor Kiraly, had rescued his side at that moment, what followed surely undid any goodwill that was awaiting him at half time.
From another Icelandic corner Kiraly rose to claim the ball, only to then fumble the ball leading to utter chaos in the Hungarian box. Although the keeper managed to trip up an opposing player in his pursuit of the loose ball, it was Tamas Kadar who was deemed to have fouled Aron Gunnarsson.
The referee pointed to the spot and Gylfi Sigurdsson stepped up to casually tap the ball past Kiraly to give Iceland their first lead in the European Championships. The island nation went in to the break leading Group F.
With a vital goal, Iceland reverted back to a more conservative approach in the second half inviting Hungary to search for an equalizer while they shut up shop.
Indeed, it was a frustrated Hungary midfield led by tricky winger Balazs Dzsudzsak and central midfielder Zoltan Gera who were largely tasked with making something of the game and although they controlled large sways of possession very little got through a stubborn Icelandic defence.
It wasn’t until late on in the second half that the game began to turn Hungary’s favor, as Bernd Storck threw caution to the wind and made changes up front. Nemanja Nikolic and Daniel Bode replaced the front two, before former Schalke and Hannover striker Adam Szalai came on for central defender Juhasz.
And it worked. Two minutes before the final whistle Nikolic was played down the right flank and drilled the ball across the Icelandic six-yard box, where Szalai and Bode were both waiting to tap the ball in. Although it was ultimately Birkir Saevarsson who accidentally knocked the ball in to his own net, it was all three substitutes who played a part in the equalizing goal.
Aside from a last minute free-kick from Iceland, that saw a deflected Eidur Gudjohnsen shot bounce wide of the post, both sides were forced to accept once point apiece. Perhaps a just result for two teams that offered very little to suggest they should have left with all three points.