Frustrating Ronaldo delights Iceland’s hero goalie
Saint-Étienne: Iceland’s heroic goalkeeper was on cloud nine after stopping Cristiano Ronaldo making history as the minnows held Portugal to a 1-1 draw on their Euro 2016 debut.
The Real Madrid ace had ten shots on goal in Saint Etienne but failed to become the first man to score in four European Championships as he was frustrated by Iceland’s dogged defence and a great display from Halldorsson.
“I feel great, we showed a lot of character by getting a point,” said Halldorsson as Portugal had 24 shots on goal, while Iceland converted one of their four.
“We were playing a really good team and the best player in the world. The last 35 minutes were really long after we’d equalised.”
Ronaldo stormed off the field in frustration at full-time and reportedly refused to shake hands with his opponents.
“He can do what he wants, we’re just happy with the point,” added Iceland’s co-coach Heimir Hallgrimsson.
The 31-year-old Ronaldo equalled Luis Figo’s record number of caps with both Portugal legends now on 127 appearances.
However, the Group F favourites Portugal are now under serious pressure in their second game against Austria, who earlier lost their opener 2-0 to Hungary in the other pool match in Bordeaux.
A superb finish by Nani gave Portugal the lead before Iceland’s industrious midfielder Birkir Bjarnason levelled for the Scandinavian minnows in Saint Etienne.
But stopping superstar Ronaldo was a dream come true for Iceland’s burly shot-stopper Halldorsson, who plies his trade for Norwegian side Bodo/Glimt, and had a great night between the posts.
“We managed to do what we’re best at doing, which is working together and closing the space,” added Halldorsson.
“I’m touched to have experienced this moment with these incredible fans behind us.
“We can’t afford to have our heads in the clouds after this result, we have to get our feet back on the ground and think of Hungary.”
And Hallgrimsson believes qualification for the last 16 is now within sight with a win over Hungary in Marseille on Saturday.
“It’s really good to have a point, but with a win against Hungary we are almost there and it’s a really good feeling,” he said.
“It’s a huge confidence boost to get a good result from the favourite in the group.”
Hallgrimsson explained how the underdogs ganged up on Ronaldo to keep the three-time World Player of the Year quiet.
“We didn’t put one defender on Cristiano Ronaldo, that would have been unfair. It was a team effort to keep him out and the lads did very well,” he said.