Iceland stuns England as Euro dream continues

Tue Jun 28, 2016 7:06am EDT
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By Mitch Phillips

NICE, France (Reuters) - Iceland pulled off one of the biggest shocks in European Championship history when they stunned abject England 2-1 on Monday, leading Roy Hodgson to quit and sending the tiny nation into a quarter-final against hosts France.

Although the soccer pedigrees of the two countries could not be more different, Iceland looked the better team in just about every aspect of the game and fully deserved to extend their dream run on their first tournament appearance.

After falling behind to a fourth-minute Wayne Rooney penalty they levelled almost immediately through Ragnar Sigurdsson and struck again in the 18th with a shot by Kolbeinn Sigthorsson.

A ponderous England never looked remotely capable of finding a way back into the game and even at the end when they were reduced to launching long balls into the box, Iceland dealt with everything comfortably.

“It feels fantastic to come here as an underdog and perform in this way," said Iceland joint-coach Lars Lagerback, who also claimed two wins and four draws against England in his days as Sweden manager.

Pundits were quick to rank England's defeat alongside that against the amateurs of the United States in the 1950 World Cup but such a judgement conveniently overlooks the progress the Icelanders have made in recent seasons, not least in beating the Netherlands home and away to get to France in the first place.

It also fails to take into account England's miserable European Championship record, where they have won only one knockout match, on penalties at home to Spain in 1996.

Hodgson, who steered the team to 10 straight wins in qualifying, duly became the latest in a long line of England managers to fall on his sword after a failure to get to the business end when it really matters.   Continued...

Iceland's Aron Gunnarsson celebrates after the game. REUTERS/Michael Dalder