Iceland manager Heimir Hallgrimsson had qualification to the knockout phase at the forefront of his mind after his side battled back to earn a point against Portugal on their European Championship debut in Saint-Etienne.
Former Manchester United winger Nani fired Portugal into a first-half lead, only for midfielder Birkir Bjarnason, who plays for Swiss champions FC Basel, to level for Iceland – the smallest nation to ever reach the championship finals.
A share of the spoils left both sides trailing in the wake of Group F leaders Hungary, who earlier defeated Austria, standings which could yet have repercussions for England as the runners-up in their pool and this will meet at the last-16 stage.
“It’s really good to have a point,” said Hallgrimsson. “We can go a little bit more relaxed into the next game [on Saturday]. With a win against Hungary we are probably nearly there.”
Portugal boss Fernando Santos, meanwhile, refused to be downcast after his side were pegged back. He said: “There’s no use crying over spilled milk. We’ll bounce back to play two great matches.”
Nani had already seen a header repelled by Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson by the time a sumptuous Portugal move ended with the Fenerbahce forward converting a low Andre Gomes cross at the near post on 30 minutes.
Iceland made history shortly after the restart by scoring their maiden goal at a major tournament as an unchallenged Bjarnason, taking advantage of dozy Portuguese defending, volleyed home a centre from Charlton’s Johann Gudmundsson.
Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, who equalled Luis Figo’s 127-cap record for Portugal, cut a disconsolate figure at times and fluffed his lines with five minutes remaining as he planted a free header straight at Halldorsson.