Portugese star winger Cristiano Ronaldo criticised Iceland for their ‘negative’ style of play and over-the-top-celebration after the teams played to a 1-1 draw in the Euro 2016 Group F opener on early Wednesday morning.
Portugal was in cruise control when Nani gave them the lead with a well-worked first half goal, but Iceland soon equalise after half-time courtesy of Birkir Bjarnason. The 40,000 travelling Icelandic fans, who represented a whopping 15% of the island’s total population were clearly in an ecstatic mood after the match.
They might be the smallest country in the competition, but Ronaldo was not shy in expressing some strong words about Iceland’s mentality and their inability to progress far in the tournament.
“I thought they’d won the Euros the way they celebrated at the end, it was unbelievable,” Ronaldo said, as quoted by the Daily Mirror.
“When they don’t try to play and just defend, defend, defend, this in my opinion shows a small mentality and are not going to do anything in the competition.”
Ronaldo is confident that his team would perform better in their upcoming matches, despite being frustrated and was clearly unimpressed by Iceland putting “bus in the net”.
“It was a little bit frustrating, we tried hard to win the game, Iceland didn’t try anything,” he said.
“They scored a goal, they created two chances in the 90 minutes and otherwise they got every player behind the ball, they put the bus in the net, so it’s difficult when one team don’t try but Portugal try and play football and try to win the game.
“It’s a bit frustrating for us but it’s just the beginning for us, we’re not worried about that.
“If you see Spain, France, they are the strongest teams in the tournament and had a difficult time to win their games so for us it was tough but we are confident. We’re 100 percent confident we’ll win our next game.
“The rankings don’t mean anything. We just try our best, keep the ball all the time and Iceland didn’t try anything, they were just ‘defend, defend, defend’ and playing on the counter-attack. It was a lucky night for them. We should have three points but we are OK.”
Portugal coach Fernando Santos denied reports that Ronaldo blatantly refused to acknowledge the Icelandic players by not shaking their hands after the game.
“I didn’t see that at all. I was watching the players,” said Santos in a press conference. “He greeted the Portuguese crowd and that was amazing. We wanted to give our crowd a win, they supported all through the match.”
“That’s not what I saw. I don’t think that’s true at all.”
Santos admitted his side’s finishing need to be more clinical, but he was confident they would improve before they meet Austria on Saturday.