Euro 2016: Icelandic craziness carries underdogs into round of 16

Iceland, the smallest nation that ever qualified for the European Championship, is now the smallest nation that ever qualified for the knockout stage of the Euros. Arnor Ingvi Traustason's goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time gave Iceland a 2-1 win over Austria and set off wild celebrations at the Stade de France.

Iceland's success at Euro 2016 isn't its first international sports achievement. Its handball team is a world power, winning the silver medal at the 2008 Olympics.

But the support for the handball team is nothing like the backing of Iceland at Euro 2016. An estimated 10,000 Iceland fans attended Wednesday's game -- almost one in 30 citizens of the nation of 330,000. Back in Iceland, the Daily Telegraph reported church-goers came screaming out of churches to celebrate the win.

"Our national handball team has done this many times," said captain Aron Gunnarsson, "and in the same way as they've been able to take their drive from the Icelandic craziness, so have we this time. We just looked at the Icelandic craziness and used it today. I'm really moved, what can you say after a game like this?"

Iceland is one of four first-time entrants to advance to the round of 16 along with Wales and Northern Ireland, which will play in Paris on Saturday, and Slovakia. Iceland will face England in Nice on Monday, while Slovakia will take on Germany Sunday in Lille.

Perhaps most impressively, Iceland finished ahead of Portugal in Group F after Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo ridiculed the reaction of the Icelanders as having a "small mentality" following their 1-1 tie in their opening game.

Before the game, Gunnarsson said it would be a dream of every Icelandic player to play England at the European Championship.

"As a country, we've always looked towards England in the finals," said the Cardiff City midfielder. "I think the Premier League is the most-watched league in Iceland and playing them in the finals would be something special."

3 comments about "Euro 2016: Icelandic craziness carries underdogs into round of 16".
  1. ROBERT BOND, June 23, 2016 at 3:07 p.m.

    hire their coach head for USMNT!

  2. uffe gustafsson, June 23, 2016 at 5:26 p.m.

    He is a Swedish coach.
    Maybe he should go back and coach Sweden again.LOL

  3. Gus Keri, June 23, 2016 at 6:12 p.m.

    I say hire that commentator for ESPN or FOX Sport.

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