Iceland coach Lars Lagerback has dismissed claims his players heckled Portugal centre-back Pepe during Tuesday’s Euro 2016 clash in Saint-Etienne.
Portugal’s frustration at failing to beat the supposed minnows of Group F was apparent after the final whistle with Cristiano Ronaldo accusing them of having a “small mentality”, a comment that prompted much amusement in the Iceland camp.
The subsequent ribbing in the media has not gone down well with Portugal boss Fernando Santos.
“When people talk about fair play sometimes it make me want to laugh because when we talk about other people and other people’s reactions… in Portugal we normally say if you don’t feel [emotions] you’re not really a good person,” he said on Friday, before accusing Iceland’s bench of heckling Ronaldo’s Madrid team-mate Pepe.
“After what the Iceland manager [Lars Lagerback] said and what their players did for 90 minutes… their fans booed Pepe and Ronaldo and their players on the bench kept heckling Pepe.”
When asked for a response, Lagerback said: “Quite honestly I didn’t see anything that our players did. I didn’t turn around too many times so I really don’t know but I definitely didn’t see or hear anything to suggest they have done that, so that’s something new for me.”
The spat partly overshadowed Iceland’s achievement in holding Portugal to a 1-1 draw with the tournament debutants now knowing a win against Hungary in Marseille on Saturday will put them on the brink of qualifying for the last 16.
Swede Lagerback is not expecting an easy game, however, against a Hungary side that shocked Austria 2-0 in their opener.
“I can’t say I was surprised at all [by the Hungary result] given the friendlies and qualifying campaign we have seen from them,” he added.
“We have respect for them but I was more surprised they made Austria look so average. I’m not sure if that was because Hungary were good or Austria below par.
“We expect a good game and we need to perform really well.”
Lagerback’s joint coach Heimir Hallgrimsson, who will take sole charge following the Euros, believes defensive solidity will be key to the outcome.
Hallgrimsson said: “We know the Hungarians play with a very compact defence so we expect few goals, one or two will be the difference.
“That’s why it’s important not to concede as Hungary are difficult to break down.
“We knew before the Portugal game that they were going to have all the possession, I hope we keep the ball more against Hungary.
“In this game, we might have the chance to show a different side of ourselves. We have the chance to show what type of team we are.”
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