Portugal come back three times; tiny Iceland finish group stage undefeated: Euro 2016 talking points

Every match day during Euro 2016, The National’s Premier League correspondent Greg Lea will break down every match and its key moments. Here is his analysis of Wednesday’s action in the tournament.

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, left, celebrates with Nani and Joao Mario after scoring their second goal against Hungary. REUTERS/Max Rossi
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Every match day during Euro 2016, The National's Premier League correspondent Greg Lea will break down every match and its key moments. Here is his analysis of Wednesday's action in the tournament.

Hungary 3-3 Portugal: Ronaldo responds with double

An open and entertaining affair ended with both sides taking a share of the spoils as Portugal advanced to the knockout stage by the skin of their teeth.

Hungary took the lead through Zoltan Gera and were then continually pegged back by the Portuguese, but their spirit, resilience and never-say-die attitude was in evidence in their response to every equaliser.

1-0, 1-1, 2-1, 2-2, 3-2, 3-3: Hungary, who rested a number of key players, simply kept edging in front, with Portugal forced to come from behind on three occasions to snatch the point that guaranteed them a place in the round of 16.

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For the third game running, Fernando Santos’ side were a little unfortunate to only draw. Just as against Iceland and Austria, Portugal once more created the better goalscoring chances, while two of Hungary’s strikes were deflected long-range efforts.

Nevertheless, finishing third in one of the tournament’s easier groups does not bode particularly well for the knockout stage, where Group D winners Croatia await on Saturday night.

Hungary’s prize for taking top spot is a clash with Belgium, but their exploits in the first round mean Bernd Storck and his players will be quietly confident of causing another upset in Toulouse this weekend.

Iceland 2-1 Austria: Fairytale continues as England await

This was not supposed to happen. Iceland’s qualification for Euro 2016 was an unbelievable achievement in itself, but making it beyond the group stage looked like being a step too far.

In fact, a country that is home to around 330,000 people has reached the last 16 with a win and two draws, with Portugal, Hungary and Austria all unable to inflict defeat upon the tournament debutants.

This victory featured all of the qualities that characterised Iceland throughout their qualifying campaign and at the Euros so far: togetherness, discipline, endeavour, organisation and spirit.

There has also been a fair amount of quality to their play, with Iceland more than holding their own up to now – indeed, aside from in the first half against Portugal, they have not yet been outplayed.

All of the pressure will be on England when they take on Roy Hodgson’s men on Monday night.

Italy 0-1 Republic of Ireland: Dramatic Brady header sends Irish through

Italy’s place in the last 16 had already been secured after two wins in their first two games, so Antonio Conte took the chance to rotate his starting XI for an encounter that was decisive for the Republic of Ireland.

Needing all three points to book a spot in the next round, Ireland left it late before getting their noses in front courtesy of Robbie Brady, but this triumph was no less than their overall performance deserved.

Italy were second best throughout, with Ireland inevitably sharper and hungrier than a side who had nothing to play for.

Martin O’Neill made a number of big calls with his team selection, dropping John O’Shea, Ciaran Clark, Wes Hoolahan and Glenn Whelan for Richard Keogh, Shane Duffy, Darryl Murphy and James McClean.

It was certainly a risk to make so many changes, but the manager’s boldness paid off as Ireland recorded a memorable victory to set up a knockout tie with hosts France.

Sweden 0-1 Belgium: Nainggolan wins it but questions remain

Belgium created the better goalscoring chances in Nice and probably deserved their win, but a number of concerns continue to linger.

Sweden’s task of creating opportunities was made a whole lot easier by their opponents’ lack of compactness from back to front, with Belgium’s forward line often positioned high up the pitch while their backline sat deep.

Such an arrangement meant Sweden were afforded plenty of space in midfield; had they possessed more a clinical touch in front of goal, they could easily have taken the lead before Radja Nainggolan’s 84th minute winner and knocked Belgium out.

The continued questioning of Marc Wilmots’ tactical nous is entirely justified, with Belgium’s success or otherwise this summer likely to be determined by whether or not their individuals can produce enough moments of magic in the final third.

That is entirely possible with a front four of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Yannick Ferreira Carrasco and Romelu Lukaku, of course, but Belgium remain less than the sum of their parts.

Player of the day

Cristiano Ronaldo rediscovered his scoring touch when Portugal needed their talisman most.

Goal of the day

Zoltan Gera’s sweetly-struck half-volley to open the scoring in Hungary vs Portugal was a fine piece of skill.

Howler of the day

Marcel Koller’s use of David Alaba as a false nine did not work for Austria, with the game passing the Bayern Munich man by.

Decision of the day

After beginning an Ireland move deep in the pitch, Robbie Brady could easily have held his position in the centre of midfield when the ball was transferred to the right flank. Instead, the Norwich City man opted to continue his run into the box, where he headed Wes Hoolahan’s cross home a few seconds later.

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