Day five of Euro 2016 produced the first real shock, as Hungary got the better of neighbours Austria, while Portugal where frustrated against surprise package Iceland.
Austria had a poor record against Hungary and surprisingly that record was extended as underdogs Hungary recorded a 2-0 win over their neighbours on Tuesday evening in Group F.
Marcel Koller’s side were seen as dark horses in the competition, but Hungary surprisingly took the lead just after the hour mark. Adam Szalai played a one-two with Laszlo Kleinheisler, before the striker scored his first goal in international football since October 2014.
Things got even worse for Austria on 66 minutes, as centre-back Aleksandar Dragovic was sent-off for a second bookable offence. As Austria pushed for an equaliser Hungary hit them on the break and doubled their lead on 87 minutes. Zoltan Stieber broke through the Austrian defensive line and chipped Robert Almer.
The result was a major surprise and means that Hungary now has a fantastic chance of making the last 16, while Austria’s hopes of making the knockout stages are now hanging by a thread.
The other game in Group A also produced a slight surprise, as Portugal were held by debutants Iceland 1-1 in Saint-Etienne.
Portugal took the lead on 31 minutes. Joao Moutinho found Andre Gomes and the Valencia midfielder found Nani in the six-yard box, the Fenerbahce winger then slotted home calmly.
The Scandinavians equalised on 50 minutes. A ball into the box was missed by Vieirinha and Birkir Bjarnason volleyed home with a powerful effort. The Portuguese had the better of the second period, but could not find a winner.
Portugal will see this as two points dropped, but Iceland will regard the draw as a very good start to their debut European Championship campaign.
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On Tuesday Group F kicks-off as Austria face neighbours Hungary, while Portugal and Iceland go head-to-head in the other game in the group.
The early kick-off sees old rivals Austria and Hungary face each other in Bordeaux in what will be the 138th meeting between the two nations. The fixture is in fact the second most played fixture in international football.
Austria were highly-impressive in qualifying winning nine of their ten games and drawing the other. It was the first time the Austrians managed to negotiate a qualification campaign in a European Championships campaign, having previously only played in the tournament as co-hosts.
Recent history is against them in this fixture, as they have won just one of the last 15 games against Hungary and suffered ten defeats in the process.
In the 137 fixtures, Hungary have also enjoyed the better record recording 66 wins compared to the Austrians 40 wins, with 31 games finishing in draws. However the two teams have not met at an international tournament in 82 years.
Austria’s recent form has not been great, as Marcel Koller’s side have suffered three defeats in their last five international including a 2-0 home defeat against the Netherlands in their last fixture prior to Euro 2016. Despite those patchy friendly results Austria are considered by many as a dark horse to win the tournament.
Hungary made it through to Euro 2016 by finishing third in their group behind Northern Ireland and Romania. They then beat Norway in both legs of a play-off.
Bernd Storck’s side secured qualification by recording the second least wins of any of the qualifiers to make the finals, with only Albania recording less than Hungary’s tally of four wins.
The odds look to be against Hungary and they are considered one of the weakest teams in the competition. However a draw in this game would keep alive their hopes of making the knockout stages.
In the other game group favourites Portugal faces one of the surprise qualifiers Iceland in Saint Etienne.
Portugal were not exactly convincing in qualifying, topping their qualification group, but all their seven victories came by a one-goal margin. Their undoubted star is Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo, who is coming into this tournament on the back of 51 club goals last season and five games in qualifying.
However, Ronaldo’s quality will be needed to paper over the cracks of a Portugal team that lacks a quality centre-forward. The likes of former-Manchester United winger Nani and mercurial winger Ricardo Quaresma both have talent, but both are highly-inconsistent.
The lack of attacking talent meant that Portugal recorded the lowest goals tally of any team at Euro 2016, scoring just 11 goals. A highly-rated midfield comprising the likes of Joao Moutinho, Renato Sanches and Adrien Silva could well make up for the lack of quality attacking options.
Iceland were one of the surprise packages in qualifying, finishing second in their group behind Czech Republic to qualify for their first major international tournament. With a population of just 330,000 they are the smallest country to ever make it to a European Championship.
The Scandinavians will heavily rely on Swansea attacking midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson to provide their attacking threat. The former-Spurs star scored six times in qualifying and will be carrying the weight of his nation on his shoulders in France.
Lars Lagerback’s side will be big underdogs heading into this clash, but if they take anything from this game then Sigurdsson and co can dream of making the knockout stages, with a very winnable game against Hungary on match day two.