PARIS (Reuters) - Iceland’s last-ditch defending, never-say-die attitude and a touch of luck was just too much for Austria’s inexperienced side, beaten coach Marcel Koller said.
Despite arguably playing their best football in the second half against Iceland, pre-tournament dark horses Austria went down 2-1 to the islanders, conceding a stoppage-time goal that sealed their exit from the championship.
“If there are 10 players in the penalty area like an Icelandic wall then of course it’s difficult and you have to find gaps,” Koller said.
“We did at times, but there was always a body or leg in between and then it’s luck or bad luck that we didn’t score a second goal.”
Iceland took the lead in the first half and looked relatively comfortable, even after Austrian defender Aleksandar Dragovic missed a penalty.
With Koller adopting a more attacking formation after the break, Austria, who had not lost a game in qualifying for Euro 2016, took control.
It looked like a matter of time before they would rein in a tiring Iceland team that dropped further and further back after substitute Alessandro Schoepf levelled on 60 minutes.
“It wasn’t enough to play just one half,” said Koller, who sought to remain upbeat. “It’s a good experience for the players to say we’ve played at such a tournament and see that there are no bad sides and you have to be focused at all times.”
Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Toby Davis