Roy Hodgson chose to make six changes to the side that drew against Slovakia. It’s almost like he didn’t learn from tinkering the last time. Sterling, Rooney, Kane, Alli, Walker and Rose all come back to start tonight. England went into the match hoping the 10-year streak of failing to win a knockout tournament game comes to an end.
Iceland’s team remained the same for the fourth consecutive game.
Last time England met Iceland, they won 6-1 in a 2004 Euro warm-up friendly. This was unlikely to be repeated. Although the expectation was on England to win, it was likely that Iceland would play very defensively. As was seen against Slovakia, this could cause trouble for England.
For those after the most important pre-match information, fear not! I have not forgotten about Leo the Lion and yesterday he was being looked after by Joe Hart. Safe hands to be in surely?
The other big news before the game was that Wayne Rooney would be matching David Beckham’s record of 115 England caps.
As the teams warmed up, so did Twitter as they prepare themselves for the likely themes of the match.
It felt like it was going to be a long night.
The icemen cometh
After only three minutes of play, Sterling was taken down by the goalkeeper Halldorrsson and the referee pointed at the spot. England have been lacking in early goals so this is a great chance to finally get one. Rooney takes and it slots into the left of the goal. The Iceland fans have gone quiet whilst the English fans celebrated. However, this felt similar to the France v Ireland match the day before. England needed to make sure the concentration stays up and no complacency sets in.
As soon as that was said, Iceland had a throw in taken by Gunnarsson and the ball heads off Anarson and to the feet of Ragnar Sigurdsson who slides it into goal. That lead lasted 34 seconds after the restart and the Iceland fans are the ones making all the noise.
England keep applying pressure and 15 minutes in, after a bit of a scramble in the box, the ball came out to Alli who strikes at it and the balls flies just above the crossbar. England have to turn these chances into goals.
Iceland then go up to the England goal and somehow Sigthorsson manages to take a shot between two defenders and it rolls past Joe Hart. Within 15 minutes from conceding, Iceland have gone from 1-0 down to 2-1 up. Hart really should have stopped that. On the plus side, it increased the excitement of the match and I’m sure the Welsh fans were loving it especially.
If only Hart was faced with Leo, he didn’t drop him yesterday.
Meanwhile, England fans turn to the usual mix of despair and resignation as theme two of the match jokes begins;
England have a good chance just before the half hour mark as Alli goes for goal only for it to be deflected over by Halldorsson for an England corner. Needless to say, nothing comes of it. The game then descended into frenetic play as players slide and dive all over the place looking for fouls to be given. Fair play to the referee who allows the play continue in all the instances.
As a rendition of God Save the Queen began to echo around the ground, being orchestrated by what sounded like a giant kazoo rather than a trumpet, England get into the final third and press towards goal again. Rooney takes a shot and it drifts across causing no threat to the defence.
Gylfi Sigurdsson is shown a yellow card 37 minutes in for a professional foul on Rose and England are awarded a free kick. Kane takes and Smalling heads it out wide of goal. It was a better effort but not good enough.
As the first half ended, Iceland were looking the more confident team.
Half-time allowed for Twitter to begin the third theme of jokes all following an European exit theme.
Second half begins and England make a subsititute with Dier taken off for Wilshire. Will this be the wonder substitution that emulates Roy’s winning tactics against Wales.
As the football continued to cause me despair, I was grateful that Twitter could provide some mirth.
England make a change with Dier replaced by Wilshire. It appeared that Roy was hoping to recreate the magic of the half time substitutions against Wales. The England fans appeared less optimistic as groans echoed around the stadium.
Iceland continued to press, and it resulted in Ragnar Sigurdsson attempting a bicycle kick which Joe Hart needed to save and did. I repeat; JOE HART MANAGED A SAVE. That Head and Shoulders contract may still be safe.
60 minutes in and Vardy finally comes on, replacing Sterling. The England fans more approving of this substitute than the Wilshere one. 5 minutes later and Aron Gunnarrson is booked for a hard tackle on Alli. England are awarded the free kick 41m from goal and Kane takes it only to shoot it well wide.
70 minutes in and Vardy is flying up the pitch towards goal but Ragnar Sigurdsson goes in for a brilliant tackle and the ball goes out for a corner.
With five minutes left to play, Rashford comes on for Rooney.
87 minutes and Bodvarsson comes of for Arnor Ingvi Traustason as a means to use up time.
With three minutes of added time, England tried every desperate attempt to get the ball into the goal but the Icelandic defence held solid. Rashford did try create some chances and made you wonder why he wasn’t played earlier.
Sturridge passed the ball into the box and Vardy jumped up and only just missed the ball. if he connected he would have headed it into goal for sure. A corner for England but it’s no good. Iceland are through to the quarter finals.
Three lions but no pride
Now while the commentators kept going on about how humbling the defeat was and how humiliating, embarrassing, etc. they were ignoring that Iceland played brilliantly. They were attacking and creative and able to defend when needed. This is the same Iceland that frustrated Portugal. I would not underestimate them as “little Iceland”. They might be a small country, but the small team mentality is definitely not applied here. It was not Iceland who humiliated England, England managed that magnificently themselves.
Man of the match; well take any one from the Iceland team. They all played with such passion and drive, it was no wonder they could control the game and get the result.
As for fan of the match, has to be these guys:
It was like they knew all along.
Congratulations to Iceland, well deserved and I hope that they manage to continue the run against France in their next match.
More drama post-match than the second half
None of the England players spoke in any post-match interview but Roy did go into a press conference straight after the game to announce was stepping down as manager. Not surprising as this would have been done sooner or later. The script he was reading from seemed quite long and almost made you wonder whether this was prepared before the match but regardless, Roy has resigned.
A few minutes later and the England management seems to be doing their own tribute to the Labour shadow cabinet as Gary Neville and Ray Lewington also have resigned.
It’s not been the greatest night in English football and Roy is leaving without much of a footballing legacy but we will always have the sad Roy vine.