Iceland, Austria.jpg
Arnor Ingvi Traustason (L) of Iceland scores the winning goal during the UEFA EURO 2016 group F preliminary round match between Iceland and Austria at Stade de France in Saint-Denis, France, 22 June 2016.

Iceland erupted late Wednesday - not due to a volcano - but in rapture after fans celebrated the country’s sensational advancement at Euro 2016.

Thousands of fans jumped, whooped, danced and shouted for joy on the Ingolfstorg square in the capital Reykjavik after a late goal secured Iceland a 2-1 victory over Austria - and a berth among the final 16.

Football commentator Gudmundur Benediktsson’s ecstatic commentary has gone viral on social media as he described the decisive goal: "And Theodor Elmar - he is all alone. Three against two. Emmi, get into the box! Get into the box! Emmi. Yes! Yes! [goal scored] Yes! Yes! Yes! We are winning this! We have reached the last 16. We have reached the last 16. We have won over Austria!”

"My voice is gone but that doesn't matter. We are through. Arnor Ingvi Traustason scored. Iceland 2, Austria 1. How about that?! How about that?! The final whistle has gone! I have never, ever felt this good. Arnor Ingvi Traustason secures Iceland's first victory in the European Championships. We've never lost, don't forget it, we've never lost, but the first victory has come. Iceland 2, Austria 1. Thanks for coming, Austria, thanks for coming," he said.

The triumph opens yet another chapter in the North Atlantic island nation’s football fairytale, and adds another dimension to a country usually best known for its natural wonders like volcanoes and waterfalls, and storytelling.

Prime Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, who saw the match in Paris, told public broadcaster RUV he was proud of the Icelandic team, the fans and the whole nation.

"There are no words to describe this achievement,” he said. “This is the first time a men's football team is in a major tournament - the women have done it before - but here a major chapter in the nation's sport history is being written."

Iceland co-coach Heimir Hallgrimsson said: "I guess we will change the national holiday, which is normally on June 17, by a few days. That is what this means to us."

The online edition of daily Morgunbladid headlined one of its main stories "Iceland advances after an incredible match", while Visir summed up: "Amazing victory from our boys in Paris".

One of Iceland’s greatest players, 37-year-old forward Eidur Gudjohnsen, who did not start against Austria, tweeted "I've taken part in some big games in my career. None of them compare with today. This is our moment."

The win means Iceland - a country of 330,000 people - take on heavyweight England in the knock-out stages.

The other Iceland coach, Lars Lagerback, a Swedish national who took over Iceland in 2012, and narrowly failed to qualify with the team for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, said his side “really deserved this.”

"I’ve never lost against England, so we’ll see if that run lasts,” he told Swedish television after the match.

Lagerback, 67, who guided Sweden to the World Cup in 2002 and 2006, and was also in charge of Nigeria at the 2010 World Cup has won a great following in Iceland.

Some joke he could have been elected president of Iceland if he had contested Saturday’s presidential elections.

Outgoing president Olafur Ragnar Grimsson congratulated the team, saying it was "a great victory and the biggest moment in the history of Icelandic football."

The football fever has overshadowed the presidential election campaign and political scientist Baldur Thorhallsson told RUV voter turnout might be affected.

"Perhaps many people will be more interested in the football on election day than the elections," he said.

Thousands of Icelanders were in France, others were headed there and might not have cast absentee ballots. On the upside, the incoming president might be able to draw on the football team's success to unify the nation, he added.

Related stories

Latest news

Over 31,000 South Sudanese flee fighting and hunger to Sudan

Fleeing escalating fighting and famine in South Sudan, over 31,000 people have arrived in neighbouring Sudan so far this year, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said Monday.

Berlin confirms murder of German hostage in the Philippines

The German Foreign Ministry confirmed on Monday the murder of a German hostage by the militant Islamist group Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines and condemned his killing as a cruel act of terrorism.

Car bombing injures five soldiers in Somali capital

Five Somali soldiers were injured Monday when a car they were chasing blew up in the capital Mogadishu, security officials and witnesses said.

Israeli military confirms strikes on several Hamas outposts in Gaza

The Israeli military confirmed on Monday that it had sent fighter jets to strike several posts belonging to the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip in response to an earlier rocket attack.

Croatian FM rejects claims gov't will change abortion law, advocates dignity of LGBT persons

Croatian Foreign Minister Davor Ivo Stier said on Monday he absolutely rejected allegations that the government would change the abortion law, and added that he advocated the dignity of LGBT persons.

Croats say Bosnia's public broadcaster should be overhauled based on Swiss or Belgian model

Major Croat political parties that make up the Croat National Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina (HNS BiH) will insist on the reorganisation of the existing state public broadcaster as they believe that the current system of public broadcasting is contrary to the Constitution and discriminatory against the Croats.

Austria and Germany seek tighter EU to face US, Russia

EU countries must close ranks in the face of pressures from the new US administration and from Russia, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern and German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Monday in Vienna.

Danish premier and opposition leader reject EU referendum

Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen and the leader of the main opposition Social Democrats both reject staging a referendum on the country's membership of the European Union as suggested by eurosceptics.

French PM slams "irresponsible" Fillon over "near-civil war" comment

French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve hit back Monday at conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon, accusing him of being "irresponsible" for saying the race was taking place in a climate of "near-civil war."

Serbia opens two more policy areas in its EU accession talks

Serbia on Monday opened two new policy areas in its EU entry talks, thus bringing the number of opened policy areas to eight.

EC: Economic sentiment for Croatia deteriorates in February

The Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI), a composite indicator made up of five sectoral confidence indicators, deteriorated for Croatia in February with the subdued confidence of companies from the services and retail sectors having a higher weight than improving consumers' confidence, according to a report released by the European Commission on Monday.

Frankfurt, London exchange operators' stock fall on merger doubts

Shares in the operators of the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and the Deutsche Boerse fell sharply on Monday after the LSE threw fresh doubts on their planned 29-billion-euro (30.1-billion-dollar) merger to forge Europe's biggest exchange.