Defeat in first world championship match
Iceland started the game well and Elvar Örn Jónsson scored the first goal of Iceland’s campaign after around 30 seconds of play. Iceland kept the lead until the 20th minute, when Portugal clicked into gear and the first half ended at 11-10.
The half-time break did not break Portuguese focus, and the gap grew to five goals: 18-13.
Icelandic defence and goalkeeping were lacking, though keeper Ágúst Elí Björgvinsson eventually found his stride. The Icelanders nevertheless lost possession more often that they would like and Portugal were still four goals ahead with ten minutes remaining.
A rigid Icelandic attack, with several missed opportunities, did not provide enough inspiration to turn the tables and the final result was a 25-23 defeat. The highest-scoring Icelander was Bjarki Már Elísson, on six goals.
The defeat means Iceland will almost certainly not take the maximum four points with them into the second round. The next game is on Saturday, against Algeria. Three of the four teams in each group advance to the second round and they keep points earned in matches against each other. Portugal would therefore need to be the Group F team knocked out in order for Iceland to take four points through. The Portuguese are currently top of the group, on two points after one game.
Last night’s was the third game between Iceland and Portugal in eight days. The first two were qualifiers for next year’s European championship. Portugal won the first and third games by two goals, while Iceland won the second by nine goals.