Ronaldo rescues Portugal, Ireland upset Italy in Euro

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Lyon—Cristiano Ronaldo hit a double to become the first player to score in four European Championships and rescue Portugal in a thrilling 3-3 draw that secured a last-16 place on Wednesday.
Iceland set up a last-16 clash with England on Monday as substitute Ingvi Traustason’s last-gasp winner earned the Euro debutants a famous 2-1 win over Austria.
Republic of Ireland scored their own memorable 1-0 win over Italy and Belgium beat Sweden by the same score to both move into the last 16, as the international career of Swedish legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic ended in defeat.
The Irish, Belgians, Iceland and Portugal join hosts France, Wales, Germany, Croatia, Italy, Switzerland, England, Poland, Spain, Slovakia, Northern Ireland and Hungary in the last 16.
The Republic will take on hosts France in Lyon on Sunday.
Ronaldo also made a record 17th appearance in the European Championship and twice rescued his side from an embarrassing early exit in Lyon as surprise package Hungary ensured their place at the top of Group F.
The Real Madrid star had earlier looked to be feeling the pressure when he threw a reporter’s microphone into a lake when approached on a pre-match team walk.
However, after disappointing performances against Iceland and Austria, Ronaldo came good just in time to set up a meeting with Croatia in Lens on Saturday.
“It was an insane match,” said the three-time World Player of the Year.
“Of course, we wanted to win and qualify in first place, but the main thing is we’re through.” Zoltan Gera smashed Hungary into an early lead before Ronaldo slipped in a pass to Nani to equalise before half-time.
Hungary captain Balazs Dzsudzsak twice threatened to cause a massive upset by sending Ronaldo crashing out early in the second period.
Dzsudzsak’s deflected free-kick put Hungary 2-1 up, but Ronaldo responded with a sumptuous backheel for his historic goal.
Just five minutes later another deflected Dzsudzsak effort restored Hungary’s lead.
Yet Ronaldo was not to be denied as a towering header moved him to within one goal of Michel Platini’s record mark of nine goals in Euros finals.
Traustason’s strike at the death ensured Iceland their first ever win in a major finals and second place in the group and a date with England in Nice.
“I’ve always supported England at big international tournaments when we haven’t been playing,” said Iceland co-coach Heimir Hallgrimsson.
“It’s a dream come true, but we go into the game to get a result. We believe in our ability.” Jon Dadi Bodvarsson swept Iceland into an 18th-minute lead at the Stade de France, with Austria paying dearly for Aleksandar Dragovic’s missed first-half penalty.
Substitute Alessandro Schoepf levelled for Austria on the hour, but Traustason’s 94th-minute strike condemned Marcel Koller’s side, highly-fancied to shine before the tournament, to a premature exit.
Robbie Brady’s header five minutes from time sparked wild scenes of celebration in Lille as Ireland ended a much-changed Italy’s 100 percent record at the tournament to set up an enticing last 16 meeting with Didier Deschamps’ French side.
It was Ireland’s first win over Italy in a competitive match since the 1994 World Cup in the United States.—AFP

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