By Kimberley Swift
- Roy Hodgson quits after England fall to humiliating defeat
- Wayne Rooney puts Lions ahead with penalty in third minute
- Kolbeinn Sigþórsson scores winner for Iceland
NICE, FRANCE – England suffered an ignominious defeat at the hands of Iceland, going down 2-1 to the Euros debutants, who will now meet hosts France in the quarterfinals.
Roy Hodgson resigned immediately in the wake of his team’s dismal performance, which brought an embarrassing end to England’s participation in the Euros 2016.
The Lions were gifted a dream start when Icelandic keeper Hannes Þór Halldórsson brought down Raheem Sterling in the box. The referee pointed to the spot and Wayne Rooney duly converted with a coolly directed shot.
Despite the perfect opening, however, it took less than two minutes for Iceland to strike back. The English defence suddenly vanished and with it their lead, as Ragnar Sigurðsson eased through to equalise.
England were clearly rattled but immediately looked to press forward with the match back on level terms. It was their opponents, however, who took their chances against the run of play.
Much like their earlier games, England played with an offensive mindset, but no amount of attacking creativity will win a match when the back line is in disarray.
They were horribly exposed again after 17 minutes when Kolbeinn Sigþórsson, inexplicably unmarked, slotted the ball through the slippery fingers of Joe Hart.
Iceland’s tactics could not be simpler. In the opening 18 minutes they attacked just twice, scored twice, and built an impenetrable defensive wall for the remainder of the match.
Meanwhile England continued to attack but, in a style painfully reminiscent of their group stage fixture against Slovakia, could not break through the back wall.
With Harry Kane and Rooney resorting to unrealistic shots from distance, their best chance came when Kane’s sharp volley was tipped over by Halldórsson. Unlike Hart, the Icelandic keeper never seemed to be troubled throughout the match.
By half time Hodgson had the look of a man who knows he has 45 minutes to save his job.
Having made six changes to the starting line-up, he brought on Jamie Vardy, Jack Wilshere and Marcus Rashford in the second half, but the match ended without much to show for it.
Kane seemed to have earned selection largely on the strength of his set pieces but, that earlier chance now a distant memory, he managed only two shockingly bad misses from free kicks in the second half.
A rash of desperate attacks on the Icelandic goal in the final minutes came to nothing and Hodgson did not hang around to commiserate with the players. One hasty press conference later and the England manager’s job is now vacant, to no one’s great surprise.
Structurally unsound and defensively slipshod, England looked like a team without a game plan. It is another miserable but sadly anticipated disappointment for their fans.
Iceland, on the other hand, were tactically the better team and fully deserve their place in the quarterfinals. They were rock-solid in defence and seized their opportunities when they came.
They take on home favourites France on Sunday 3rd July while British attention turns to Wales, unforeseeably the last home nation standing.
Wales meet Belgium in the quarterfinals on Friday 1st July at 20:00 (BST).
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