Wednesday 22 June 2016, 22:40

Iceland and Republic of Ireland make history in dramatic finale

THE DAY REPLAYED - Ronaldo inspired Portugal to a vital and hard-earned point against Hungary, while Iceland excelled once more in Group F to join both sides in the last 16. The day then ended with the final two games in Group E, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his last international appearance against Belgium, and Republic of Ireland snatched a late goal against section winners Italy to advance to the knockout stage. rounds up the final four group-phase matches.

The day’s results Hungary 3-3 Portugal Iceland 2-1 Austria Italy 0-1 Republic of Ireland Sweden 0-1 Belgium

The analysis Iceland continue to break new ground. Having caused Portugal and Hungary problems, the surprise tournament newcomers did not take long to make their intentions clear against Austria, with Johann Berg Gudmundsson hitting the post after just two minutes. Jon Dadi Bodvarsson then put Iceland ahead, to the delight of their army of fans. The Austrians hit back on the hour mark thanks to Alessandro Schopf. Despite throwing caution to the wind and seeing Marc Janko and David Alaba go close, they could not force a winner, and were powerless to prevent Arnor Ingvi Traustason from sealing a maiden EURO win for Iceland, who will now face England in their first-ever knockout-stage match.

Cristiano Ronaldo came to a faltering Portugal’s rescue with two of his side's three goals in a pulsating draw with group winners Hungary. Hesitant at the back as the effervescent Hungarians pressed forward, Portugal went in level at the break as Nani cancelled out Zoltan Gera’s opener. Their skipper then made his presence felt, responding to a Balazs Dzsudzsak brace with two goals of his own. The draw ensured Hungary finished top of Group F, with Portugal being pipped to second by Iceland.

Belgium and Sweden played out a tense, nervy encounter, with Les Diables Rouges enjoying only partial success in playing their game against a physical Blagult side driven on by the inimitable Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Thibaut Courtois showed the Belgians the way, however, inspiring confidence in his diligent and disciplined defenders. Relying on their individual attributes once more, Belgium secured the points when Radja Nainggolan drove home six minutes from time, and will now face Hungary in the next round.

Cheered on by their vociferous fans, Republic of Ireland teed up a last-16 tie against hosts France thanks to Robbie Brady’s header five minutes from time against Italy. Jeff Hendrick and Daryl Murphy both came close, the latter denied by goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu, while Lorenzo Insigne rattled the nerves of the Boys in Green* *when he hit the post. Wes Hoolahan then went close, before Brady stole in for a historic goal that lifted the jubilant Irish into the next round for the first time.

Highlight of the day ** *“The last game for Sweden in Euro 2016 will be my last game for Sweden,” said Zlatan Ibrahimovic ahead of Sweden’s meeting with Belgium. “So, I hope it will not be tomorrow. Let’s hope we go on as long as possible.” Unfortunately for Ibra, Les* Diables Rouges were in no mood to be charitable, as they brought an end to the Swedish star’s national team career on Wednesday, despite his best efforts once again. Though the Blagult looked to him to conjure up some of his usual magic, it never came, as he bowed out from the international stage on the lowest of notes.*

  • The stat 4 - Ronaldo became the only person to score in four UEFA EURO competitions. The Portuguese has now scored eight goals in the competition in total, just one behind Michel Platini, the tournament’s all-time leading goalscorer.

    What they said “To come here and do this with my best friends is just amazing. We’re a very close-knit group and it’s fantastic that we’ve done this together, especially with 10,000 fans in the stands. It’s an amazing feeling. It’s like having your family at the match. I know about half of the fans here. Well, I recognise them anyway.” Iceland midfielder Kari Arnason*.***

Round-of-16 fixtures (all times local) **Saturday 25 June Switzerland-Poland (15.00) Wales-Northern Ireland (18.00) Croatia-Portugal (21.00)

*Sunday 26 June France-Republic of Ireland (15.00) Germany-Slovakia (18.00) Hungary-Belgium (21.00)

Monday 27 June Italy-Spain (18.00) England-Iceland (21.00)*

The winners of UEFA EURO 2016 will represent Europe at the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017