Evening all! Sports Mole
's live Euro 2016
coverage continues from Saint-Etienne as Portugal face Iceland in Group F. There is no question that Portugal will be expected to top this section and advance comfortably into the round of 16, but Iceland are seen by many as potential dark horses in France. Let's see!
Tonight's clash will be the third meeting between Portugal and Iceland in international football and Portugal won each of their two previous matches during qualification for Euro 2012. There is just no comparing these two teams when it comes to experience at this level of football, but Iceland showed their credentials during qualifying, when they finished above Turkey and Netherlands.
Right, without further ado, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news from Saint-Etienne. Who has made it into the first XIs for this Group F fixture? Let's have a look!
POR: Patricio; Vieirinha, Pepe, R.Carvalho, Guerreiro; Gomes, Danilo, Mario; Moutinho; Nani, Ronaldo
ISL: Halldorsson; Saevarsson, R.Sigurdsson, Arnason, Skulason; G.Sigurdsson, Gunnarsson; Gudmundsson, Bodvarsson, Bjarnason; Sigthorsson
No real surprises in the Portugal XI tonight as skipper Cristiano Ronaldo starts alongside former Manchester United teammate Nani in the final third. A midfield diamond will include Joao Moutinho and Andre Gomes, while Ricardo Carvalho lines up alongside Pepe in the centre of the defence. Joao Mario is preferred in the centre of the park to new Bayern Munich midfielder Renato Sanches.
As for Iceland, Cardiff City midfielder Aron Gunnarsson starts alongside Swansea City's Gylfi Sigurdsson in the middle of the park. There is also a spot in the team for Charlton Athletic midfielder Johann Gudmundsson, while Nantes striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, who has scored 20 goals in 39 caps, leads the line. Thirty-seven-year-old Eidur Gudjohnsen is named on the Iceland bench.
So there we have it. The two teams are in and we are now just over 40 minutes from kickoff on this warm evening in Saint-Etienne. I shall speak about Iceland and their credentials a little bit later, but let's start with Portugal, who are competing in their seventh straight European Championship finals. They failed to qualify in 1988 or 1992 after making the semi-finals in 1984, but have been strong players in this competition since then. Can Fernando Santos lead the team to success in France?
At Euro 1996, they made the quarter-finals, before making the semi-finals of Euro 2000. On home soil, they were runners-up at Euro 2004 and have made the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively in the last two editions of the tournament. In truth, it would be major surprise if Santos did not lead this Portugal team into the knockout rounds considering the strength of their group.
That is no disrespect to Iceland, Hungary and Austria, but under the new ruling, a third-place finish in this group might well be enough to advance and it is difficult to imagine Portugal not picking up enough points to advance. That said, it is worth remembering that they failed to make it through the group stages of what was a disappointing 2014 World Cup for the Iberian nation in Brazil.
Austria and Hungary kicked off Group F this afternoon and it was Hungary that recorded an impressive 2-0 victory in Bordeaux to take early control of the section. Adam Szalai and Zoltan Stieber both found the back of the net against an Austrian team that finished with 10 men.
A somewhat understrength Portugal XI lost 1-0 to England at Wembley in a pre-tournament friendly, but Santos's side thumped Estonia 7-0 in their final warm-up match for this competition. They have also beaten Belgium and Norway in friendlies this year and certainly know what it takes to compete in tournament football. What's more, any team with the genius that is Ronaldo stands half a chance!
© Getty Images
In terms of qualification for this tournament, Portugal finished top of Group I after winning seven of their eight matches and collecting 21 points in the process. They actually only scored 11 times in their eight fixtures, but still finished seven points clear of second-place Albania, who lost 1-0 to Switzerland in their Group A opener at the weekend. It was a comfortable progression to the finals.
Looking ahead, Portugal will take on Austria in their second Group F match on Saturday, before finishing against Hungary next weekend. As mentioned, the four best third-placed teams will also make the knockout stage of Euro 2016 and therefore it is very difficult to imagine Portugal being eliminated in the groups. That said, victory for Iceland tonight would throw the group wide open.
Iceland, meanwhile, are competing in the finals of a major tournament for the first time in their history. They did not enter in either 1968 or 1972, but since then, have tried and failed to qualify. Their spot in the finals of this competition was secured after finishing second in Group A behind Czech Republic - winning six of their 10 matches and only suffering two defeats in the process.
Iceland did manage to reach the playoff stage of the 2014 World Cup, but lost out to Croatia on that occasion. That would have been very difficult to take, but they have bounced back well and will fancy their chances of picking up enough points to make it through the group stages. Portugal are the favourites for this section, but second and third are very much open for discussion.
In terms of pre-tournament results, Iceland will enter this match off the back of a 4-0 win over Liechtenstein on June 6. They have lost four of their last six games in all competitions, however, including defeats to United States, Denmark and Norway. It remains to be seen whether Iceland will sink or swim in this tournament and tonight should be a good indicator of their credentials.
© Getty Images
Confirmation of the two teams for tonight's match...
POR: Patricio; Vieirinha, Pepe, R.Carvalho, Guerreiro; Gomes, Danilo, Mario; Moutinho; Nani, Ronaldo
ICE: Halldorsson; Saevarsson, R.Sigurdsson, Arnason, Skulason; G.Sigurdsson, Gunnarsson; Gudmundsson, Bodvarsson, Bjarnason; Sigthorsson
Here we go then - the national anthems and pre-match handshakes have just taken place. We are now just about ready to get the first 45 minutes underway. There was not been a goalless draw at Euro 2016 thus far and hopefully that does not end tonight! Here's to an entertaining match!
KICKOFF! Iceland kick things off in Saint-Etienne...
... it must be said that there is a wonderful atmosphere inside the stadium tonight. Both teams are well-represented in the stands! Portugal have the chance to break clear as Ronaldo wins possession in the middle of the park, but Nani just cannot meet the through pass from CR7.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for Iceland to make the breakthrough as Sigurdsson advances into the Portugal box, but the Swansea midfielder cannot beat the advancing Patricio!
It has been a very bright start from both sides tonight, with Iceland threatening on the counter-attack and Portugal looking to commit players in the final third. Moutinho has the chance to deliver a free kick into the Iceland box and Nani makes contact, but Halldorsson makes a comfortable claim.
Half-chance for Portugal as Danilo meets a super cross from Moutinho, but the midfielder's header is deflected wide of the post for another corner. Portugal on top with seven minutes played here.
Good spell of possession for Iceland in the last couple of minutes as they work the ball in the final third, but ultimately Ragnar Sigurdsson hands the ball back to the Portuguese. You just get the feeling that the first goal tonight - if there indeed is one - could be crucial in terms of the final result.
Iceland have been a little bit sloppy in the final third, but they have had the best chance of the opening 12 minutes here. Portugal look the more incisive when they break forward, but Ronaldo has been unable to threaten the Iceland goal thus far. This match is just developing at the moment.
Nani is almost playing as a central striker for Portugal, but the service into the former Man United attacker has not been great in the opening 14 minutes. Ronaldo continues to drift into wide positions and pick up possession, but Iceland have been pretty tight defensively thus far tonight.
Portugal are in control of the possession with 17 minutes on the clock, but they are just struggling to find that elusive pass at the moment. Iceland will be pleased with their start to this match.
SAVE! Smart work from Vieirinha as the Portugal right-back cuts inside his full-back before releasing a powerful strike, but Halldorsson is on hand to claim at the second attempt.
SAVE! Oh my word! Wonderful chance for Portugal as Ronaldo delivers a sensational cross onto the head of Nani, but the attacker's effort is somehow saved by Halldorsson!
Another half-chance for Portugal as Vieirinha finds the head of Ronaldo with a smart cross, but the skipper's effort was always moving just wide of the post. Iceland are struggling at the moment.
You just get the feeling that Iceland will need to score first tonight if they are to stand a chance of securing a positive result. Portugal might well go from strength to strength if they strike first, especially with the type of players they posses in the final third and indeed also on the bench.
CHANCE! Another chance for Ronaldo as Pepe finds his Real Madrid teammate with a super pass, but the attacker fails to make any contact and Halldorsson claims!
Iceland have not had too much of this first period, but the score remains level with 29 minutes on the clock. Just a reminder that Hungary beat Austria 2-0 in Group F's first match this afternoon.
You have to credit Iceland for playing 4-4-2. Not many international teams are prepared to play that formation, certainly not at the highest level! It is the Iceland supporters making most of the noise at the moment, while there is some frustration in the Portugal end. Still all square in Saint-Etienne.
GOAL! Portugal 1-0 Iceland (Nani)
Portugal make the breakthrough in the 31st minute of this match as Andre Gomes delivers a wonderful low cross into Nani, who fires home at the near post. Super ball, smart finish and 1-0!
Iceland are really struggling at the moment as Portugal force another free kick in a dangerous position and Bjarnason is forced to head clear under pressure from the ever-willing Pepe.
Iceland just cannot seem to keep the ball here and when they manage to break forward, it is very comfortable for Portugal. You just get the feeling that Iceland cannot afford to concede a second if they are to stand a chance of turning this game around. Portugal have been the dominant team here.
Excellent work from Ronaldo as the Portugal captain heads a Sigurdsson corner clear as Iceland enjoy a period of pressure with a couple of set pieces. Not long left in this first period here.
Moutinho tries his luck from distance as Portugal register another shot on target, but Halldorsson is on hand to make the save. Iceland really need to ride out the next few minutes without conceding again.
Another half-chance for Portugal as Vieirinha delivers another telling cross from the right, but Ronaldo just cannot make contact under pressure from Iceland's two central defenders.
HALF-TIME: Portugal 1-0 Iceland
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with Portugal leading Iceland courtesy of a 31st-minute strike from Nani, who finished a Gomes cross at the near post. Iceland had a wonderful chance early on through Sigurdsson, but have struggled in the final third since then.
STATS! Portugal have dominated the possession with 66%, while they have had 12 attempts, six of which were on target. Iceland, meanwhile, hit the target with each of their two attempts in the first period. There have been a couple of late challenges, but no cards from the referee thus far tonight.
BENCH WATCH! Portugal are not exactly flush with forward options on their bench, but exciting teenager Renato Sanches is available, in addition to the likes of Eder, Adrien Silva and Rafa Silva. Iceland, meanwhile, have the likes of Finnbogason, Gudjohnsen and Magnusson on their bench tonight.
RESTART! Portugal resume the action in Saint-Etienne...
... no changes from either side at the break, which is not too much of a surprise. However, I suspect that both managers will have alterations in mind as the second period gathers pace here.
CLOSE! Ronaldo hits one on the volley as Portugal come close to a second early in the second period, but the Real Madrid attacker's effort swings just wide of the post.
Portugal are comfortable in this match, but Iceland will always be in the argument the longer that the score remains at 1-0. Portugal midfielder Gomes goes down just outside the Iceland box under a challenge from Saevarsson, but the referee is not interested. Looked a foul to me!
GOAL! Portugal 1-1 Iceland (Bjarnason)
Oh my word! Iceland level against the run of play as Bjarnason finds himself unmarked inside the Portugal box and volleys home from close range. Terrible marking from Vieirinha there!
Now then. We have a proper game on our hands now! Still plenty of time for Portugal to score another goal, but Iceland are now full of confidence after levelling the scores in Saint-Etienne.
BOOKING! Bjarnason (Iceland) is booked for a late challenge on Vieirinha.
You just get the feeling that we have not seen the last of the goals in this match and the Iceland supporters are urging their team forward. The noise inside the stadium is just stunning here.
Ronaldo leads a counter for Portugal before finding Mario, who returns into the skipper, but his effort is blocked by Arnason. The pace of the Portuguese attack is gathering pace here.
SAVE! Super feet from Gomes as the Portugal midfielder creates some space on the edge of the box, but his effort is tipped wide of the post by the Iceland goalkeeper, who then saves from Guerreiro after a corner is taken into the left-back. Still all square in this Group F clash.
Iceland just cannot get out of their own half at the moment and 30 minutes is a long time to defend the edge of their own penalty box! Portugal are passing and probing in the final third here.
Iceland survive another dangerous moment as Vieirinha's cross falls for Nani, but Halldorsson is on hand to claim under pressure from Ronaldo. The breaks are falling the way of Iceland at the moment.
We are entering the period of the match where both managers will be considering changes, but there is no movement on either bench as thing stand. Portugal still in control of the possession.
Just a reminder that Hungary currently top Group F following their 2-0 win over Austria earlier this afternoon. As it stands, Austria would be bottom and Portugal and Iceland would sit second and third respectively. That said, still more than 20 minutes of this fixture to play in Saint-Etienne.
PORTUGAL SUB! Renato Sanches replaces Moutinho for Portugal.
CLOSE! Oh my word! Portugal come within a whisker of scoring a second as Nani meets a super free kick from Guerreiro, but his header drops just wide of the post!
Ronaldo takes matters into his own hands as he drives towards the edge of the Iceland box and strikes towards the top corner, but his effort was always just too high. Still 1-1 in Saint-Etienne.
Guerreiro is forced to hook the ball clear at the far post as Iceland threaten when Sigthorsson jumps above Pepe inside the box. Wouldn't it be some story if Iceland could score a second goal here!
PORTUGAL SUB! Quaresma replaces Mario for Portugal.
You just get the feeling that there is another goal, or at least another big chance, in this match. Ronaldo has been poor by his own brilliant standards tonight, but he could still have the last laugh.
SAVE! Halldorsson tips a deflected Quaresma effort wide of the post!
Iceland just cannot seem to get out of their own half at the moment as Portugal continue to dominate possession, but the overall quality from the Portuguese has been poor tonight.
ICELAND SUB! Finnbogason replaces Sigthorsson for Iceland.
Ronaldo has a long-range free kick deflected over as Portugal continue to threaten. The resulting corner is met by Pepe, but his header is just over the crossbar. Iceland living dangerously here!
PORTUGAL SUB! Eder replaces Gomes in Portugal's third change.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for Portugal to regain the lead as Nani sets up Ronaldo with a super cross, but the skipper heads straight at the Iceland goalkeeper. Wow!
SAVE! Finnbogason fires straight at Patricio inside the Portugal box!
Ronaldo leaps above Halldorsson and threatens to meet a cross from the left, but the referee blows for a foul against the Portugal captain and we are entering the final moments of this match.
ICELAND SUB! Gudmundsson is replaced by Elmar Bjarnason.
We are into the first of three additional minutes here.
Quaresma delivers a free kick from the right, but the quality is poor and Iceland clear once again.
Ronaldo over a free kick for Portugal...
... straight into the wall!
BOOKING! Finnbogason (Iceland) is booked for handball.
Ronaldo with another free kick...
... straight into the wall once again!
FULL-TIME: Portugal 1-1 Iceland
So there we have it. The referee brings the second period to a close and Iceland have held Portugal to a 1-1 draw in Saint-Etienne. What a performance! Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action and be sure to join us again tomorrow for live Euro 2016 coverage. Until then!