Rewind, Euro 2016: Iceland come from behind to stun England and reach quarter-finals

Iceland pulled off the greatest result in their history, coming from behind to stun England and reach the Euro 2016 quarter-finals.

Iceland delivered a fantastic performance against England. (Image Credit: Twitter)

Iceland pulled off one of the greatest results in their history on this day (June 27), making a soaring comeback to defeat England in Nice and reach the quarter-finals of Euro 2016. The team went down early following a penalty by Wayne Rooney. The spot-kick awarded for Iceland keeper Hannes Halldorsson’s foul on Raheem Sterling who was returning back to action was exactly the start Roy Hodgson’s men craved. It was a fourth-minute goal pushing Iceland out of their relaxed state early. However, they made a fine turnaround following goals from centre-back Ragnar Sigurdsson and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson. Sigurdsson scored only his second goal in 60 international matches, but it came when needed the most.

The goal was itself a special one with Aron Gunnarsson hurling the ball in, before Kari Arnason outjumped Rooney to direct the ball towards the defender. Sigurdsson managed to get the ball past Joe Hart with a beautiful effort, providing some much-needed relief to the Iceland players. The relief soon turned into extreme happiness as Gylfi Sigurdsson directed the ball towards Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, which soon found its way down to Sigthorsson. The Nantes forward attempted to smash the ball from the edge of the box. While the shot was not the most vicious, it managed to make its way into goal under the outstretched left glove of Hart nonetheless.

England fall flat when pushed hard

England attempted to make a comeback, with shooting from long-range one of the weapons utilised. However, the presence of numerous strong players in blue jerseys who continued to defy them proved crucial. Even the introduction of Jamie Vardy in the 60th minute had little effect. Gunnarsson nearly extended Iceland’s lead following a late counterattack, before being denied by Hart. Iceland maintained their resolve and determination till the very end, sealing an extraordinary win. The team continued to defy the odds, showcasing an immense mentality along the way. They had the worst start imaginable, but their reply was immediate illustrating so well the mental strength the team has. The fairy tale continued to live on, sending a fine message to the underdogs of world football.

On the other hand, England got the early goal which the masses believed would open the floodgates. However, but what followed will certainly be considered an unpleasant memory for the years to come. There was a lack of pace, a lack of composure, a lack of belief in their display. Too many players indulged in the luxury of taking too many touches as the game slipped away. There was further something extremely ironic about England being left in a state of chaos by a long throw, considering the tactic is utilised at all levels of the nation’s football. They had enjoyed prior warning with Bodvarsson breaking the deadlock against Austria via the same method. Two of the three players involved: Arnason and Gunnarsson enjoyed quality experience in the English league making it all the more galling.

“We didn’t perform”

England players Joe Hart and Wayne Rooney expressed their disappointment following the match.

“As a group it is down to us. All the plans are put in place, we knew everything about Iceland – but ultimately we didn’t perform. Personally I didn’t perform. It’s not a question of wanting it, there’s nothing we want more – they are just words though. We were in a good place but we haven’t done it. We will get a lot of flak and we deserve it. We will learn from this and try and bring English football back to where it belongs. We have put it in a low place. We just couldn’t find a way back into the game. The next manager has a tough job on his hands. We worked hard but with no success. That is how this team will be remembered,” said Hart as quoted by BBC.

“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. It’s tough. There are always upsets in football – it’s not tactics, it’s just unfortunate. We know we’re a good team. I can’t stand here and say exactly why it’s happened. Roy Hodgson will look back and think what he could have done differently. I’m still available to play. It’ll be interesting to see who comes in,” stated Rooney.


England: Hart; Rose, Smalling, Cahill, Walker; Rooney (c) (Rashford 87), Dier (Wilshere 46), Alli; Sterling (Vardy 60), Kane, Lallana. Substitutes: Forster, Heaton, Milner, Clyne, Henderson, Stones, Barkley, Bertrand (Sturridge 46). Coach: Roy Hodgson.

Iceland: Halldorsson; Skulason, Ragnar Sigurdsson, Arnason, Savarsson; Birkir Bjarnason, Gunnarsson (c), Gylfi Sigurdsson, Gudmundsson; Bodvarsson (Traustason 89), Sigthorsson (Elmar Bjarnasson 77). Substitutes: Kristinsson, Jonsson, Hauksson, Hermannsson, Ingason, Finnbogason, Sigurjonsson, Magnusson, Hallfredsson, Gudjohnsen. Coach: Lars Lagerback.

Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia).

Sportslumo Desk

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