Hungary win; Ronaldo’s Portugal flatter at Euro 2016
Hungary produced a Euro 2016 shock with a 2-0 win over 10-man Austria as both teams opened their campaigns in France today at the Nouveau Stade Bordeaux.
Austria almost scored the quickest ever goal at the Euros but David Alaba’s shot after 28 seconds hit the post.
Hungary contained their rivals and took the lead when Adam Szalai slotted in Laszlo Kleinheiser’s pass.
A disappointing Austria had Aleksandar Dragovic sent off for a second bookable offence before Zoltan Steiber sealed Hungary’s win with a composed dink.
Hungary were back at a major tournament for the first time since the 1986 World Cup and triumphed by virtue of superior work-rate, organisation and quality.
They might not have had as many household names as their rivals but they had more of a team ethic and were rewarded when Szalai –– having been involved in the build-up twice –– put them in front. In the closing moments Steiber coolly lifted the ball over the keeper to seal the win.
It was also a memorable day for Hungary keeper Gabor Kiraly, 40, who overtook Lothar Matthaus’ record to become the oldest player to appear at a European Championship finals.
He defied his years when he dived low to his left to save Junuzovic’s deflected shot but, overall, he had little to do.
Former West Brom and Fulham midfielder Zoltan Gera, 37, was an influential presence for Hungary in midfield as he made the most tackles of any player on the way to a famous win for his country.
Meanwhile, Portugal were held to a 1-1 draw by minnows Iceland as their Euro 2016 campaign got off to an unconvincing start at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in Saint-Etienne.
Gylfi Sigurdsson almost put Iceland in front early on but his angled shot and follow-up were both saved.
Nani slotted in for Portugal but Iceland worked a shock equaliser when Birkir Bjarnason volleyed home.
Cristiano Ronaldo had a late header saved for Portugal, while Iceland also went close to a winner when Alfred Finnbogason had a shot saved.
Iceland were making their first appearance at a major tournament and, despite Portugal having plenty of possession, held on for a memorable point.
Ronaldo came into the tournament fresh from scoring the winning penalty for Real Madrid in their Champions League final shootout victory over Atletico Madrid as he added another club honour to a long list.
Honours on the international stage have eluded him, however, and unless the forward can replicate his club scoring achievements for his country that is likely to continue.
Ronaldo, who won his 127th cap and equalled the Portuguese record set by Luis Figo, showed a glimpse of his quick feet to get in a precise cross for Nani, whose six-yard header was saved.
But he could only kick fresh air from 10 yards out as he failed to make contact with a long Pepe pass, then sent a 20-yard half-volley wide and had his late header saved as he endured a frustrating evening.