Eggert Guðmundsson didn’t agree with the referee’s decision to point to the penalty spot in that wrestle with Alwande Roaldsøy.
Nevertheless, the call stood, and with the 1-0 Norway were closer to writing history in this UEFA U19 Championship. But Gudmundsson wasn’t having it, and he redeemed himself with a last-minute Messi-style goal that keeps Iceland’s hopes of going to the semi-finals.
TO THE BEAT OF THE STANDS
The proactivity of the Icelandic supporters in the stands had an impact in the early part of the game, with their players taking control.
However, as the Norwegian fans always responded to their counterparts from out of the pitch, so did the footballers under Luís Pimenta’s guidance.
From a corner-kick came the first big chance of the game, a header of Norway’s captain, Nikolai Hopland, but Lúkas Petersson grabbed that one. Iceland regained control in the last 10 minutes with a couple of shots that forced Mangus Ree to show he was not just a spectator.
Both goalkeepers were showing their quality. The half-time whistle came with no goals, a result that wasn’t in Iceland’s best interest. But neither was conceding…
The Icelandic youngsters knew they had to be more effective to get their first win in this tournament, so they came back from half-time with more intensity. But that penalty was not part of the plan.
In the 65th minute, in one of Norway’s first attacks in the second half, Guðmundsson slightly shoved Roaldsøy, who came down and called for a penalty. Iceland’s number 10 couldn’t believe it, but the penalty was given.
Roaldsøy placed it calmly on the opposite side of Petersson to break the 0-0, with the fireworks just in the background of that goal colouring the Norwegian celebrations.
The Icelandic coach subbed three players in the hopes of avoiding what was being written in the sky, through those aforementioned fireworks: Norway going through to the semi-finals of the tournament for the first time.
On the pitch, he had someone on his side. When Iceland’s efforts appear to be in vain, Eggert Aron Guðmundsson received the ball free —after a fantastic hand pass by Petersson, who had captured a cross with one hand—, and he went through the opponents before placing the ball inside the net with the right foot and scoring the equaliser.
He showed hints of Messi in that play, and he admitted to AIPS he admires the Argentinian superstar: “Who doesn’t like Messi? I love him. And scoring this kind of goal, with my parents in the stands watching…”. In the last five minutes of added time, Iceland pushed for the second goal.
The draw it’s not a good result for Iceland, but the defeat would’ve been the end of it in this UEFA U19 Championship. Their celebration with pizza in the locker room after the match is the proof they know how big this point was.
At least for now, Iceland (one point) still have hope, even though the Norwegians, with four, have the advantage. On Sunday, Norway will meet Spain and Iceland will face Greece.
One thing is for sure: with this fighting spirit, Iceland should never be written off.
Credit: AIPS Media