England 1 – 2 Iceland
England – Hart; Walker, Cahill, Smalling, Rose; Dier (Wilshere 45′), Rooney (Rashford 86′), Alli; Sturridge, Kane, Sterling (Vardy 60′)
Iceland – Halldórsson; Saevarsson, Arnason, Sigurdsson, Skúlason; Gudmundsson, Gunnarsson, Sigurdsson, Bjarnason; Sigthorsson (Bjarnason 77′), Bödvarsson (Traustason 89′)
England last night suffered a demoralising last 16 defeat to Iceland. This means that England have not won a game in the knockout stages of a major tournament in ten years.
It seemed as if England were going to cruise to victory, as they took the lead after just four minutes. It came from a sublime pass by Daniel Sturridge to Raheem Sterling, who was brought down by Iceland’s keeper, Hannes Þór Halldórsson, to earn England an early penalty. Rooney converted from the spot to put England in the driving seat.
But, Hodgson’s men were made to pay for their clear defensive frailties after just six minutes when Iceland equalised. As we have seen on numerous occasions in this tournament, Aron Gunnarsson sent a long through into the box.
Kari Arnason won the first header, which sent the ball towards the goal and his centre back partner, Ragnar Sigurðsson, was able to score from close range after he was let free by his marker, Kyle Walker.
Then, in the 18th minute, things went from bad to worse for Roy Hodgson’s men. Some patient build up play from Iceland led to them reaching the edge of the box; Kolbeinn Sigþórsson was allowed to have multiple touches before getting his shot off. The attempt should have been a comfortable save for Joe Hart, but he failed to keep it out as Iceland took the lead.
From that point, England failed to create any significant changes before the final whistle, as Iceland went onto be deserving winners in the last 16 tie, to continue their extraordinary run in this tournament.
Unsurprisingly, after the game Roy Hodgson announced that he had chosen to resign after spending four years as England manager. In his post-match news conference, Hodgson released a statement to announce his resignation:
Evidently, some of the blame must be placed on Roy Hodgson. His poor decision making lead to disappointing results against Slovakia and Iceland.
Unlike Iceland, it did not seem as if Hodgson’s team had a clear plan of how to go about the game. It was evident for onlookers that Hodgson did not know his best team or the best system for his players at any point, due to the lack of consistency in his team selection.
In spite of this, a large portion of the blame should be placed with the players, who severely let down their manager and most importantly, their supporters last night.
It was an abysmal and embarrassing performance; the England team looked to have faltered in the wake of the pressures of an international tournament once again. There seemed to be a distinct absence of urgency in England’s display, with a lack of quality which was needed to break down a strong Icelandic defensive back line, meaning that chances for England were few and far between.
All the credit should go to Iceland. They have had a magnificent tournament and they have deservedly gained many admirers as the Euro’s have progressed. They put in another superb defensive display last night, whilst showing their threat on the counter against a fragile England side.
My pick for man of the match last night was Iceland’s Ragnar Sigurðsson. He opened the scoring for Iceland after reacting well to a Kari Arnason flick on; he was forceful and bullish throughout as he helped to limit England’s attack to speculative chances.
It is clear that they will be a difficult challenge for France and any team they may go onto face in the latter stages of the tournament.
Iceland’s manager, Heimir Hallgrímsson, gave his thoughts on the history making victory over England after the game:
If you want the best out of life you have to be ready when the opportunity comes. That is a fact and these boys were ready today and this opportunity that was put in our hand was huge, it can change their lives.
England’s captain, Wayne Rooney also offered his post match thoughts as his side exited the tournament:
It’s a sad day for us. Sometimes not always the best team win. Once they got in the lead we knew it would be difficult to get the goal back because they are well organised. Going into the last 16 facing Iceland we were confident we could win the game. It’s disappointing but we have to move on.
England must now look to appoint a new manager after Hodgson announced his resignation. As is the case with any vacant managerial vacancy, names will be circling round the job in the coming weeks.
But the man I would like to see take charge of England going into a new era is Eddie Howe. He is a superb young manager, who is arguably the best young English manager around at this point in time. He has done a magnificent job at Bournemouth, taking them to the Premier League for the first time in their history and he also helped them to comfortably secure their safety for a second season, playing fluent and attacking football in the process.
Some possible alternatives to Howe, who I believe would also do a good job are Mauricio Pochettino and Slaven Bilić.