Outstanding Martins lifts Portugal past Iceland

14 Jan. 2021

Outstanding Martins lifts Portugal past Iceland

A six-goal outburst from 23-year-old centre back Miguel Martins in the second half led Portugal to a two-goal victory (25:23) against Iceland in their first match at the 27th IHF Men’s World Championship.

The Portuguese side will only need one point from the next two games against Algeria and Morocco to proceed to the next phase of the competition – for the first time since 2003.

Portugal vs Iceland 25:23 (11:10)

As influential centre back Aron Palmarsson was out of the 27th IHF Men's World Championship due to a knee injury, his Icelandic teammates were eyeing their second win against Portugal in five days.

However, despite a strong beginning that took their opponents by surprise (4:2), the Icelandic side started to get into trouble in attack, as Portugal’s goalkeeper, Alfredo Quintana, raked save after save, including a penalty shot.

With their pacy wings – Pedro Portela and Diogo Branquinho – Portugal put together an unanswered 3:0 run, preventing Iceland to score for five minutes and one second to take the lead for the first time (9:7).

Yet, this season’s German Bundesliga top scorer, Icelandic left wing Bjarki Mar Elisson, helped Iceland stay afloat with his four goals in the first half.

Shortly after the start of the second half, it became clear that Portugal were stronger, more creative and had a crucial player, who seemed to be scoring for fun.

23-year-old centre back Miguel Martins was virtually unstoppable in the second half, scoring six goals in 13 minutes.

With wild spin shots and powerful shots from the 9-metre line, Martins did it all and helped Portugal open an 18:13 gap after 38 minutes, with a strong 8:3 run to start the second half.

Right wing Pedro Portela, as well, contributed significantly to the win as he was unstoppable both in defence, where he registered two steals, and in attack, scoring five goals throughout the game.

Brimming with confidence and showing tremendous grit in defence, Portugal avenged the 23:32 loss from 10 January, in the Men’s EHF EURO 2022 qualification phase.

In the process, the Portuguese side proved that they are still one of the best teams in the competition and could be a dark horse for the next weeks at Egypt 2021.

The 25:23 win was Portugal’s first win against the Icelandic side in their history at the IHF Men’s World Championship and Iceland coach Gudmundur Gudmundsson concluded: “We started the game very good, but Portugal were getting better and better and finally they beat us. We had 25 turnovers in the game, this is too much if we want to win such a balanced game.”

hummel Player of the Match: Miguel Martins

Photo: Egypt 2021