Iceland’s EURO Dreams Shattered Following 2-1 Loss to Ukraine

Icelandic fans at the World Cup in Russia in 2018

Iceland’s dream of a spot in the UEFA European Championship in Germany this summer was shattered in Wroclaw, Poland, last night. Iceland lost 2-1 to Ukraine, despite an admirable performance.

Tense atmosphere

The atmosphere in Wroclaw was considerably more tense compared to that of Budapest last Thursday, where Iceland secured their place in the playoffs final by beating Israel. Ukrainian supporters outnumbered those of Iceland in the stands.

Åge Hareide made three changes to yesterday’s squad since Thursday, with Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, Jón Dagur Þorsteinsson, and Andri Lucas Guðjohnsen entering the starting lineup. Both teams had decent opportunities in the opening minutes of the match, which were marked by some nervousness.

Iceland scored the opening goal of the match, with the team executing a clever passing sequence that ended with Albert Guðmundsson – who scored a hat-trick against Israel – received the ball at the edge of the penalty area. Dancing nimbly with the ball, he carved out space for a shot, with his left foot finding the bottom corner.

Almost ten minutes later, Ukraine managed to equalise. However, the goal was rightfully ruled offside. The score remained 1-0 at halftime.

Heartbreak in the second half

Ukraine started the second half brightly. In the first five minutes of the second half, they earned three corners, which the Icelandic defence managed to repel. As noted by Vísir, just as the Icelandic team seemed to be weathering the storm, Ukraine struck; Iceland launched a promising attack that fizzled out after a good run by Jón Dagur Þorsteinsson. The Ukrainians were quick to counter. Viktor Tsygankov found space on the right and placed the ball into the far corner, past goalkeeper Hákon Rafn Valdimarsson. 1-1.

As the second half wore on, Ukrainian pressure mounted, and the Icelandic team found themselves increasingly pinned back. Ukraine eventually found the winning goal, exploiting lapses in the weary Icelandic defence. Viktor Tsygankov found Mykhailo Mudryk with too much space in the penalty area, with the latter slotting the ball into the far corner.

The Icelandic team did everything they could to equalise following the goal, but Ukraine was savvy and slowed down the game effectively. Iceland launched one final attack in the dying moments of extra time, creating danger in Ukraine’s penalty area – to no avail. Ukraine secured a 2-1 victory, with fans and players alike celebrating the win passionately when the referee blew the final whistle.

It was a heartbreaking result in Wroclaw last night, especially given Iceland’s first-half lead. The dream of a place in the UEFA European Championship this summer has fizzled.

Iceland Triumphs Over Israel, Eyes Playoff Finals Against Ukraine

Icelandic fans at the World Cup in Russia in 2018

Head coach Åge Hareide has praised Iceland’s team spirit and character in their 4-1 victory over Israel yesterday. The performance secured the team a spot in the UEFA Euro playoff finals against Ukraine on Tuesday.

Excellent team spirit

Åge Hareide, head coach of the men’s national football team, expressed his delight after Iceland’s 4-1 victory over Israel last night, a win that secured Iceland a spot in the final match of the UEFA Euro finals on Tuesday. Iceland will face off against Ukraine, with the winning team advancing to the UEFA European Championship in Germany next summer.

“I’m very pleased,” Hareide told Vísir yesterday. “I thought the boys did well, and they worked hard. Not everything was perfect, but the effort and talent of the players shone through. Luck plays a part, and you earn your luck.”

As noted by Vísir, Hareide was particularly pleased with the team’s character; Israel took the lead shortly after Orri Steinn Óskarsson squandered a golden opportunity.

“The spirit in the team has been good in training. This is a good group of players who stick together. They didn’t hang their heads but continued to work after Orri’s chance and then the penalty against us. Everything seemed against us, but they turned it around, which was very well done. This is good for the team and the morale in the squad.”

Hareide also praised Albert Guðmundsson, who scored a hat-trick in the match.

“He was superb. I’ve seen all his games with Genoa, where he has been doing very well. I knew he would be very important to us if he could play; that was the question. We’re very happy that he could join us and hope everything goes our way in the next game.”

On a less optimistic note, two players, Arnór Ingvi Traustason and Arnór Sigurðsson, were forced off during yesterday’s match with injuries. Team captain Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson was also sidelined ahead of yesterday’s match against an injury, and it remains uncertain whether these three players will be fit to face  Ukraine on Tuesday.

Can I use Euros in Iceland?

currency iceland

The short answer: no, you cannot use Euros in Iceland.

Iceland, to the surprise of some, is not in the European Union, nor does it use the Euro. In fact, Iceland is the second-smallest nation (after the Seychelles) to maintain its own currency and monetary policy, which is called the Icelandic króna, or ISK. It is, however, a part of the Schengen zone, which allows freedom of movement for citizens of partner nations.

Some of Iceland’s Nordic peers, do, however, have different arrangements. For instance, Denmark is part of the EU, but also retains its own currency, the Danish krone, which is pegged in value to the Euro. All of the Scandinavian nations have their own currencies, which are all variations on the local word for “crown,” just like there is a US, Canadian, and Australian dollar. These Scandinavian currencies are descended from the Scandinavian Monetary Union, a monetary union between Denmark, Norway, and Sweden in the 19th century. It stemmed out of a growing desire among some to unite these similar nations in a “pan-Scandinavian” movement. Little else came of this, but the monetary union was generally considered successful and helped to tie the region’s economies together under a standardized system.

But these days, the Icelandic króna is the only official currency, so plan accordingly.

If you are planning a trip to Iceland, know that digital transactions are largely the rule in most establishments. You certainly can pay in cash, but most places of business prefer electronic payment for convenience. Still, a well-prepared traveller should exchange some cash to have on hand, just in case. It is possible to change cash at the airport or at a bank in town. You can also use an ATM (in Icelandic: Hraðbanki) to withdraw local currency, but these generally come with fees.

However, some large stores, attractions, and restaurants that deal largely with tourists may accept Euros, USD, or other major currencies. Also, because of the high volume of connecting flights through Keflavík International Airport, all merchants at the airport accept Euro, USD, and some other major currencies. It is worth noting that this is not an official policy: it is a service that some businesses provide their customers with for convenience. That means that while it may be an option, do not make your plans around being able to pay in Euro, USD, or other currencies.