World Cup qualifiers: Iceland draw 1-1 with Norway to close on first major tournament
Last Updated: 15/10/13 10:27pm
Kolbeinn Sigthorsson: Sent Iceland through to play-offs
Iceland are 180 minutes away from reaching a major tournament for the first time after booking a play-off place with a 1-1 draw in Norway.
The minnows, who would be the smallest country to ever reach a World Cup with a population of around 320,000, went to Oslo knowing they needed to match whatever third-placed Slovenia did in Group E.
As it was they bettered that, taking a point as Slovenia missed their chance and lost, meaning Daniel Braaten's Norweigian equaliser after Kolbeinn Sigthorsson's opener mattered little.
It represents a real achievement for Iceland and for their coach Lars Lagerback - a man steeped in Scandinavian football - although the real work is now to come.
They were not to know how Slovenia would fare before kick-off, and they will not have enjoyed the rocky opening to the game they had to endure.
Braaten hit wide for Norway with three minutes gone, while Hannes Thor Halldorson made his first save within seconds as Tarik Elyounoussi ripped a shot in.
Ola Kamara then had a hit blocked by Kari Arnason, but the pressure was relieved in one fell swoop in the 12th minute.
Tottenham's Gylfi Sigurdsson threaded a pass through from the left and Sigthorsson did the rest from 12 yards.
Norway did not deserve to be behind and on the stroke of the half-hour they got back on terms.
Braaten was the man, finishing crisply after Per Ciljan Skjelbred's cut-back.
The sting went out of the game after that and both sides struggled for openings until veteran Eidur Gudjohnsen drew a brilliant diving save from Rune Almenning Jarstein as the hour-mark approached.
The goalkeeper then kept out Birkir Bjarnason but as news of Switzerland winning came through, the mood changed amongst the Iceland contingent.
Bjarnason would have added to the joy had he shown better poise from 12 yards, while at the other end Stefan Johansen showed Norway remained a force with a close-run-thing.
Kolbeinn Sigthorsson was another to go close to a second but it did not matter as Switzerland's game ended and Iceland's progression to the play-offs was confirmed.
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Tue 15th Oct - Group E
Cyprus0 - 0Albania
Norway1 - 1Iceland
Switzerlnd1 - 0Slovenia
Tue 15th Oct - Group F
Azerbaijan1 - 1Russia
Israel1 - 1N Ireland
Portugal3 - 0Luxembourg
Tue 15th Oct - Group G
Greece2 - 0Liechtenstein
Lithuania0 - 1Bos&Herz
Latvia2 - 2Slovakia
Tue 15th Oct - Group D
Hungary2 - 0Andorra
Turkey0 - 2Holland
Romania2 - 0Estonia
Tue 15th Oct - Group B
Bulgaria0 - 1Czech Rep
Denmark6 - 0Malta
Italy2 - 2Armenia
Tue 15th Oct - Group A
Serbia5 - 1Macedonia
Scotland2 - 0Croatia
Belgium1 - 1Wales
Tue 15th Oct - Group C
Faroe Isl0 - 3Austria
Rep Ire3 - 1Kazakhstan
Sweden3 - 5Germany
Tue 15th Oct - Group H
S Marino0 - 8Ukraine
Montenegro2 - 5Moldova
England2 - 0Poland
Tue 15th Oct - Group I
France3 - 0Finland
Spain2 - 0Georgia
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group A
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group B
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group C
|4||Republic of Ireland||10||14|
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group D
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group E
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group F
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group G
|1||Bosnia and Herzegovina||10||25|
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group H
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group I