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Day 13, and the last of the league stages at Euro 2016 produced a dramatic finish in Group F, as Hungary and Portugal drew in a thrilling contest and Iceland grabbed a last-gasp win over Austria, while Group E saw a famous victory for Republic of Ireland and a win for Belgium against Sweden.
Iceland grabbed a stoppage-time winner to defeat Austria 2-1 and finish second in the group behind group winners Hungary to spark wild celebrations from the terraces.
The Nordic team took the lead on 18 minutes, after previous hitting the woodwork on two occasions. Aron Gunnarsson’s long-throw was flicked-on to Jon Bodvarsson who beat his marker and poked past Robert Almer from inside the Austria penalty area.
Austria had a golden opportunity to equalise on 38 minutes. David Alaba was brought down in the area by Olafur Skulason and the referee pointed to the spot. Centre-back Aleksandar Dragovic stepped-up and hit the spot-kick against the base of the post.
It turned out to be a nightmare tournament for the highly-rated defender, as he was dismissed in the opening game as well.
Austria did equalise on the hour mark though having come into the game slightly more in the second half. Substitute Alessandro Schopf picked-up the ball from Alaba, avoided a challenge from Arnason and kept his cool to slot a low effort past Halldorsson in the Iceland goal.
Austria dominated possession as they pushed for a winner, but failed to create much in terms of chances on goal and were hit on the break deep into stoppage-time.
Four men broke forward on the counter-attack with the ball falling for Arnor Ingvi Traustason, who slotted home to cause mass celebration from the Icelandic fans. The win meant that Lars Lagerback’s side finished the group as runners-up and will face England in the last 16.
Hungary and Portugal produced one of the games of the tournament so far, as the pair drew 3-3 in a game that saw Hungary top the group and Portugal finish third. Hungary took the lead on 19 minutes.
The ball fell to veteran midfielder Zoltan Gera on the edge of the area, the former-West Brom chested the ball down and produced a superb half-volley that beat Rui Patricio down low at his far post.
With the half drawing to a close Portugal equalised. Cristiano Ronaldo produced a superb through-ball to Nani and the Fenerbahce winger fired low past Gabor Kiraly.
Hungary were back in the lead just two minutes into the second half, as Balazs Dzsudzsak deflected a free-kick past Kiraly. Three minutes later and Portugal were level, as from ten yards out Cristiano Ronaldo produced a fantastic flicked effort that went into the bottom corner of the net.
Unbelievably Hungary were ahead again five minutes later. Dzsudzsak was the scorer yet again, as his effort from just outside the area took a deflection off Nani and ended up in the top corner. Parity was restored on 62 minutes in what was an incredible 17 minutes of football.
Joao Mario’s cross from the left was glanced home by Ronaldo for his second goal of the game. Both teams had chances to win it, but in the end the game finished all-square. The draw means Portugal qualify for the knockout stages in third-place and face Hungary in the last-16.
Group E was also decided on Wednesday night. Italy topped the group, but a much-changed Azzurri team suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Republic of Ireland.
The game was a relatively open game, but it took 85 minutes for the only goal of the game to go in. Substitute Wes Hoolahan sent in a cross from the left-flank and Robbie Brady glanced a header past Salvatore Sirigu in the Italy goal.
Italy never really looked like equalising and the win was enough for Ireland to finish in third place and book their place in the knockout stages of the competition, much to the delight of their green and white travelling army.
Belgium clinched second-place in the group with a 1-0 victory over Sweden in Nice. Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku and Swedish star Zlatan Ibrahimovic both had goals disallowed, while Swedish ‘keeper Andreas Isaksson pulled-off a number of saves to keep his side in the game.
Belgium eventually sealed their place in the last-16 on 84 minutes. Eden Hazard crossed to find Radja Nainggolan on the edge of the area and the midfielder produced a powerful that that deflected of Erkan Zengin and beat Isaksson.
The win saw Sweden finish both of the group with just one point to show for their three group games. The game also marked the end of mercurial Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s international career.
The outspoken striker will also move on to pastures new in his club career, with his contract at French champions PSG set to expire this summer.
The last groups of Euro 2016 come to a head on Wednesday, as Group E and F come to a conclusion. It’s all to play for in Group F, as Hungary, Austria, Portugal and Iceland all still have a chance of making the knockout stages.
Iceland face Austria in a game is must-win for the Austrians, while a draw could be enough to see Iceland through to the knockout stages.
The Scandinavians were one of the surprise-packages in qualifying and Lars Lagerback have put in two very solid performances so far in their draws with Portugal and Hungary in the group stages. They could still win the group with a victory in this clash, depending on the result of the other game of course.
Iceland have faced Austria just three times on the international stage and have failed to pick-up a win, with two games drawn and Austria also recording a win.
Austria’s tag of dark horses has been negated by two very unconvincing displays at France. A disastrous opening game defeat against Hungary was followed by a goalless draw with Portugal in which Cristiano Ronaldo and Co missed several good chances, including a spot-kick.
Marcel Koller’s side now need to win this clash to have any hope of qualifying for the knockout stages of the competition. A draw would mean an early exit for one of the highly-rated outsiders in France.
The other game in the group sees group leaders Hungary face Portugal in Lyon, as latter attempts to seal their place in the knockout stages.
Portugal have drawn both their games at Euro 2016, as both Iceland and Austria have frustrated them. Their current position is of their own making though, as they have missed some golden opportunities in France.
A draw could leave them open to missing out on qualification, if Austria defeat Iceland in the other group game. Portugal will be confident of a win though, as they are ten games unbeaten against Hungary.
Hungary have very much been the surprise package in France, having picked-up four points from their two games. Bernd Storck’s team realistically could beaten by Portugal and still qualify, but that would very much depend on the size of the defeat.
Group E is slightly simpler with Italy already qualified as group winners. The Azzurri face Republic of Ireland in Lille, with Ireland needing a win to have any chance of making the knockout stages of the competition.
Italy have recorded wins over Belgium and Sweden so far in France and that is enough to take Antonio Conte’s team through as group winning. The Chelsea-bound boss is likely to rotate his squad, which may just mean a ray of hope for Martin O’Neill’s men.
Republic of Ireland drew their opener rather against Sweden, before being hammered 3-0 by Belgium in their second game. It is simple for Ireland they must beat Italy for only the second time in competitive meetings of the two nations.
Sweden and Belgium clash in a game the Swedes must win to have any chance of making the knockout stages. A draw against Ireland in their first group outing was followed by a defeat by Italy. Anything but a win and Erik Hamren’s side will exit the competition.
The action turns to Group C on day 12, as Ukraine face Poland, Northern Ireland have the daunting task of facing world champions Germany in a crucial encounter.
Ukraine are the only team from the group that can no longer qualify for the knockout stages after 2-0 defeats against Germany and Northern Ireland in their two group outing.
Mykhaylo Fomenko’s team have under-performed and now only have pride to play for in this group, but could still have a big influence on who qualifies for the knockout stages of the competition.
Poland can confirm their place in the knockout stages with a victory in this clash. However, a draw could be enough to give the Poles runners-up spot, if Northern Ireland fails to beat Germany in other game.
Whatever happens Poland look likely to make it to the knockout stages, as four points should be enough to seal a spot in the last 16, even if the unexpected happens and they suffer a defeat in this clash. A win could be enough to seal top spot in the group.
Northern Ireland face the difficult task of facing world champions Germany in their last group. Germany have collected four points from their two games so far, but Joachim Low’s side were underwhelming last time out in their goalless draw with Poland, failing to get a shot on target.
Boss Joachim Low may react to that poor display against Poland with changes in personnel, as he seeks to find a bigger attacking threat from his team. The world champions realistically only need a point to qualify for the knockout stages, but will have to record a victory in this game to ensure they top the group, or Poland could pip them to top spot and secure an easier draw in the last-16.
Northern Ireland recorded their ever win at a European Championships last time out by beating Ukraine 2-0. The win gave Michael O’Neill’s side a very good chance of qualifying for the knockout stages of the competition.
They are currently third-place in the group and a draw would surely seal their place in the last-16, while they could qualify with a defeat, but that depends on results from the other games.
Group D also reaches its conclusion on Tuesday, Czech Republic face Turkey and Spain go head-to-head with Croatia.
Czech Republic’s 2-2 draw with Croatia last time out means that they can still qualify in second-place, but they would need to defeat Turkey and then hope that Spain defeat Croatia in the other game.
A win would also guarantee the Czech’s finish in third spot and that could be enough for them to qualify as one of the best third-place teams. Pavel Vrba’s team will be without influential attacking midfielder Tomas Rosicky, who has a thigh problem.
Turkey’s Euro 2016 campaign has been very poor so far, as they have suffered defeats in both of their games. A 3-0 defeat in their last outing against European champions has made their chances of making it the knockout stages very slim.
Fatih Terim’s side would need a win and improve their goal difference, as their goal difference is currently -4, which is currently the worst of any team hoping to make the knockout stages.
The other group in the game is between Croatia and European champions Spain. Croatia needs to avoid defeat to confirm their place as group runners-up. However a win would mean top spot for Ante Cacic’s team.
Croatia threw away a two-goal lead against the Czechs last time out to draw 2-2, but a draw would be enough to take them through in second place. Even a defeat could see them through as one of third-place teams.
Spain’s 3-0 defeat of Turkey in their last game meant that Vicente del Bosque’s side have two wins out of two games in France. The European champions only need a draw to finish top of the group and get an easier passage in the knockout stages.
Del Bosque could rotate his squad with qualification for the last-16 already sealed, although La Roja will not want to lose their momentum by failing to win this clash.
Day 12 of Euro 2016 saw two more groups reach their dramatic climax, as Group C and D both concluded on Tuesday.
The games in Group C came first, as Germany defeated Northern Ireland and Poland won against Ukraine. Germany narrowly defeated Northern Ireland 1-0, but could have been a heavier defeat if it was not for Northern Ireland ‘keeper Michael McGovern.
The only goal of the game arrived just prior to the half hour mark, after Bayern Munich forward Thomas Muller had hit the post with a header just minutes earlier. Mesut Ozil produced a moment of magic to put Muller through on goal and the Bayern star found striker Mario Gomez, who fired home via deflection.
The win ensured that Die Mannschaft won the group ahead of Poland, who recorded a 1-0 in over group whipping boys Ukraine.
Adam Nawalka’s side took the lead early in the second half. Arkadiusz Milik played a corner short before finding Jakub Blaszczykowski in the area and the winger smashed a powerful effort high beyond Andriy Pyatov.
Ukraine never really looked like equalising and Poland sealed their spot in the knockout stages as group runner-up’s and will play Switzerland in the knockout stages on Saturday in Saint-Etienne. Northern Ireland will also take their place in the last-16 as one of the four best third-place teams.
Group D produced late drama as Croatia jumped above Spain by beating La Roja and Turkey recorded a win over Czech Republic.
Croatia have won the group by beating Spain 2-1, with the European champions finishing second in the group. Spain looked set to cruise into the knockout stages with Alvaro Morata scoring from close-range on seven minutes.
Coatia's Subasic saved a Spanish penalty by Sergio Ramos adding to the Spanish misery.
However, Croatia turned the tables as on the stroke of half-time as Nikolic Kalinic equalised from close-range. With just two minutes left midfielder Ivan Perisic fired home the winner, which moved the Croats to the top of the group. This leaves Spain with a game on Monday against Italy, an early clash for two of the favourites.
Turkey produced a much improved display in the other game to defeat Czech Republic 2-0 in Lens. Fatih Terim’s side took the lead on ten minutes through a first time effort from striker Burak Yilmaz. Czech Republic came close to equalising, as Tomas Sivok’s effort hit the woodwork.
However, Turkey doubled their lead on 65 minutes, as Ozan Tufan hit a powerful effort that beat Petr Cech. The means that Turkey finished third in the group and still have an outside chance of making the knockout stages, but are relying on results going their way in Wednesday’s matches.