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UEFA Euro: Iceland's fairytale, Zlatan's exit, Italy's loss and Ronaldo back in form

Sahil Bhalla | Updated on: 23 June 2016, 12:31 IST

What an evening of football it was. The last day of the group stage of the tournament turned out to be the best. Players were worn out and emotions ran high. From Ronaldo scoring twice in a 3-3 draw to Zlatan Ibrahimovic playing his last and Iceland's epic late goal, 22 June at the European Championship had it all.

I could go on and on about Iceland's fairytale story in the tournament, but I'll leave that for another post. I could expand upon Ireland's resilliance in their win over Italy, but again, that deserves its own post. Instead, let's go through it match by match.

Hungary vs Portugal

Hungary had already qualified with four points from two matches. Portugal were on the brink of elimination, having drawn their first two matches. Iceland faced Austria and both of those teams were also in contention for a sport in the Round of 16.

Hungary supporters hold scarves during the Euro 2016 group F football match between Hungary and Portugal at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium in Decines-Charpieu, near Lyon, on June 22, 2016. (Joe Klamar/AFP)

This match was simply unreal as the pendulum switched back and forth between both the sides, each determined to win. Zoltan Gera opened the scoring for Hungary and Nani hit back just before half time for Portugal. Then it was Balázs Dzsudzsá vs Cristiano Ronaldo. Each scoring two goals, one after the other. The last 30 minutes became a nervous affair with both teams trying with all they had to score that elusive winner. Alas, it wasn't meant to be and the match ended in a 3-3 draw.

Iceland vs Austria

Iceland had also drawn their first two matches - one of them included a heartbreaking own goal against Hungary - and were in the same position as Portugal. Austria had just one point from two matches but a win would have propelled them into the next round. Iceland though, the underdogs of the tournament, did it, with a late, very lae winner from Arnor Traustason. The tiny island nation of Iceland has done it. They've made it.

Iceland's midfielder Arnor Ingvi Traustason (L) shoots to score a goal during the Euro 2016 group F football match between Iceland and Austria at the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis, near Paris on 22 June, 2016. (Tobias Schwarz/AFP)

Sweden vs Belgium

Sweden, with just a point from their opening two matches, needed a win to qualify. Belgium, with three points, needed a win to secure progression. It was a match filled with emotions.

Belgium fans celebrate their team's goal during the Euro 2016 group E football match between Sweden and Belgium at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice on 22 June, 2016. (Vincenzo Pinto/AFP)

Belgium, with a late goal - another one after the 80th minute - through Radja Nainggolan meant that this match became Zlatan Ibrahimovic's last. As a ESPN FC headline read, "Belgium send Sweden and Zlatan Ibrahimovic packing from Euro 2016". Irahimovic just never looked liked scoring on the night and that summed up the story of Sweden in this tournament.

Sweden's forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic acknowledges the crowd after Sweden lost 0-1 in the Euro 2016 group E football match between Sweden and Belgium at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice on 22 June, 2016. (Vincenzo Pinto/AFP)
Sweden's forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic applauds to acknowledge the spectators at the end of the Euro 2016 group E football match between Sweden and Belgium at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice on 22 June, 2016. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP)

Italy vs Republic of Ireland

Italy, with two wins in two matches prior to this game had already qualified. Ireland though, with one point from two games, knew that only a win could save them. Ireland did the improbable. They beat an Italian side that was brimming with confidence. A 85th minute goal was enough to secure a 1-0 victory and a meeting with hosts France in the Round of 16.

Republic of Ireland's Robbie Brady (C) gets a hug from a team mate after the UEFA Euro 2016 Group D qualifying second leg play-off football match between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia Herzegovina at the Aviva stadium in Dublin on November 16, 2015. Republic of Ireland won the match 2-0. (Paul Faith/AFP)

The European Championships take a two-day breather and return to action on 25 June with the following round of 16 matches:

  1. Switzerland vs Poland (6:30 PM IST)
  2. Wales vs Northern Ireland (9:30 PM IST)
Photo curation: Sehar Qazi

First published: 23 June 2016, 12:31 IST
 
Sahil Bhalla @IMSahilBhalla

Sahil is a correspondent at Catch. A gadget freak, he loves offering free tech support to family and friends. He studied at Sarah Lawrence College, New York and worked previously for Scroll. He selectively boycotts fast food chains, worries about Arsenal, and travels whenever and wherever he can. Sahil is an unapologetic foodie and a film aficionado.

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