Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo launched a verbal attack on Iceland for their defensive tactics and over-celebration after the teams shared a 1-1 draw in the Euro 2016 Group F opener on Tuesday.
Nani’s first-half opener was cancelled out by Birkir Bjarnason’s goal five minutes after half-time, and the fans who travelled from the island of about 332,000 people were ecstatic as they secured the result.
Iceland are the smallest country in the competition, but the planet’s biggest football star still had some harsh words for Portugal’s opponents, who were making their debut in a major 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 had no doubt that Portugal would go on to improve, however, despite being frustrated by Iceland putting “the bus in the net.”
“It was a little bit frustrating, we tried hard to win the game, Iceland didn’t try anything,” Ronaldo 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 point but we are OK.”
Portugal coach Fernando Santos denied reports that Ronaldo refused to shake Iceland players’ hands after the game.
“I didn’t see that at all. I was watching the players,” Santos told a news conference. “He greeted the Portuguese crowd — 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 was less than clinical, but he was confident they would improve before their next game against Austria on Saturday.