Euro ’16: Iceland – England 2-1 : Superb Iceland makes England exit Europe – again

0 Euro 2016, Last 16,

Астрахань купить кокаин If there’s anything called poetic justice, this game could be a good example. Just days after the UK citizens voted to leave the EU, England – whose inhabitants mostly voted to leave – are booted out of the Euro ’16 by a small European nation they thought they were too good for, epitomised by Rio Ferdinand’s comment after the draw a few days ago: “If I was in that [England] team now i’d be very happy to be playing Iceland”.

While England tries to classify where to exactly rank this game in the bottom of the pile of historic England failures, nobody in England should let the shock of the result fool them for even a second: Iceland were fully deserved winners of the encounter and won with fighting spirit, determination and organisation.

Iceland started nervously, though, and the Icelandic goalkeeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson showed his inexperience by bringing down Raheem Sterling in full flight to gift England a penalty. Wayne Rooney executed the spot kick to perfection with a low, hard shot just inside Halldorsson’s right post. The stage was set for a comfortable English win, but soon things would change.

Because just a couple of minutes later, Iceland equalised with a schoolyard text book example of a goal from the lower divisions of football, a goal that any team should be able to deal with. A throw-in at the height of the English penalty area was flicked on by Kari Arnarson and Ragnar Sigurdsson got free of his marking all too easily to slot past Joe Hart from 3 feet out.

The miserable night for the English back line was dealt another hammer blow ten minutes later, when they stood like statues allowing Kolbeinn Sigthorsson to finish a nice Icelandic passing move at the edge of the area with a low shot. Joe Hart should have dealt with the shot but only managed to lower the speed of the ball with his left palm, resulting in greater agony for the England fans as the ball seemingly rolled over the goal line in slow-motion.

Now, here’s where the real substance of the damning verdict for England: if Iceland had scored those two goals with just a few minutes left, then a loss would be understandable and maybe even acceptable as a stroke of bad luck. But what made this game into a veritable disaster for England is that they had over 70 minutes of play plus extra time to turn the game around. They simply couldn’t.

After provoking the early penalty kick, Sterling spent the rest of the game into the Icelandic wall on the left. The Icelandic defenders’ low back dogged line kept England at distance, leaving Rooney, Kane and Sturridge to take turns as to who produced the worst shot from a distance. Kane’s dead ball delivery was the stuff of nightmares.

But Iceland didn’t just park the bus in front of their goal, they often went on dynamic counterattacks, piling the misery on for Gary Cahill and Chris Smalling. In the second half, Iceland went dramatically close to a third goal with Ragnar Sigurdsson with a spectacular overhead kick.

Even when Jamie Vardy, who came on for Raheem Sterling in the second half, had a chance he was spectacularly blocked by the excellent Sigurdsson. Roy Hodgson’s last roll of the dice was throwing on Marcus Rashford for Wayne Rooney, and it’s an even more damning verdict that in the 5 minutes Rashford spent on the pitch he made three dribbles, more than anyone else on the England team during the full game.

When the final whistle went, the England players sank to the ground deflated, and soon after Roy Hodgson resigned as coach for the national team, knowing that he would never get a renewal: this match will be the one he is always associated with.

As for Iceland, the fairytale is yet to end, and France better be wary for their quarter final because it is definitely not by chance that the Nordics have made it this far, and Iceland may even cause more upsets.

Congratulations Iceland, you are in the quarter finals!

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