Iceland 2 England 1: The 'worst result in English history'

Hodgson and his squad should be ashamed, but Iceland deserve praise for showing the meaning of teamwork

Iceland celebrate beating England at Euro 2016
(Image credit: Getty)

England's defeat to tiny Iceland at Euro 2016 has brought the curtain down on Roy Hodgson's career and means his devastated side heads home from France shamed and humiliated after the "worst result in the history of the national team".

That is the verdict of Matt Lawton of the Daily Mail, who says the Three Lions "should be ashamed" of their performances.

However, he reserves much of his ire for Hodgson: "It is the manager's job to get the best from his players and too often Hodgson has fallen short of expectations. Too often he has appeared unfit to the wear the England blazer."

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Colleague Martin Samuel agrees. "What a waste the last two years have been," he says. "Hodgson should have gone in 2014, when England lasted two matches at the World Cup. He wasn't the man then, he isn't the man now. Just like Stuart Lancaster, England's Rugby World Cup coach, there has been much talk of progress, promise and a strong culture of responsibility, but under pressure, that all evaporated."

"England stopped being a football team... and became a punchline", says Matt Dickinson of The Times. Defeat to the minnows from the North Atlantic has made them a "laughing stock".

Iceland "thoroughly merited this historic victory for showing all the teamwork, the strategy, the intelligence and patience that England so palpably lacked from the moment they conceded an equaliser," he says. "This was brain-dead football, full of individuals panicking."

Most observers agree Hodgson cut a desperate figure, bereft of ideas as England floundered. "He still does not know his best team and now he will never find out," says Dickinson. Against Iceland, all his team offered was "individualistic chaos".

After a week of "political hell", says Paul Hayward in the Daily Telegraph, the contagion has "spread across the Channel and down through France to destroy England as a credible football nation".

He adds: "The stand-out upset in England's 66-year international story is the USA's 1-0 win in 1950. But defeat here in Nice was always going to be a deeper trauma. This one came in the era of the Premier League as global industry."

There were mismatches all over the field, with millionaire stars from Champions League clubs taking on a side led by Aron Gunnarsson of Cardiff City. But "England lacked composure and precision as they seemed to sense that calamity was closing in".

However, the disaster that overtook England should not detract from Iceland's performance. "Iceland's players, coaches and supporters have etched a modern sporting myth," says Amy Lawrence of The Guardian.

"Iceland's capacity to tussle toe-to-toe with England was captivating. Their blend of confidence and concentration, to track and block one moment, to drive forward gamely the next, seemed to drain their opponents of any sense of purpose. England looked confused by it all. Iceland were cohesive; they all understood the plan. An opportunity was there to be seized and they chased it voraciously."

Iceland 2 England 1: Hodgson quits as pathetic England suffer ultimate humiliation

27 June

Iceland 2 England 1

English football plumbed new depths at Euro 2016 as Roy Hodgson's team were well beaten by tiny Iceland, prompting the humiliated manager to quit within minutes of the final whistle.

In a second half performance that must rank alongside the worst ever produced by the national side, England mustered no more than two clear chances against a well-organised Iceland side prepared to sit deep and invite England to attack.

But the passing was dire, the movement was non-existent, the shooting was woeful and the set-piece delivery was embarrassing as England turned in a performance so lacking in imagination that it was hard to fathom.

The result will be a stain on the reputation of all of those involved in the game, but it would be wrong to deny Iceland the credit they deserve, especially after falling behind after only five minutes.

England started the game brightly and when Raheem Sterling was hauled down by keeper Hannes Halldorsson Wayne Rooney stepped up to score from the penalty spot.

It was a false dawn for England that lasted all of two minutes as Iceland scored straight from the kick off. The goal came from a long throw, hardly a surprise tactic from Iceland, but England's defenders simply watched like schoolboys as Ragnar Sigurdsson pounced on a flick-on to equalise.

Worse was to come after 18 minutes when Kolbeinn Sigthorsson was allowed time to shoot in the box after a slick passing move that put England's efforts to shame.

Sigthorsson's shot was tame but Joe Hart reacted late and the ball crept past him. It was a blow that England never recovered from and the next 70 minutes of utter impotence will be seared into the minds of all England fans.

It was England keeper Hart who saw the most action in the second half, twice denying Iceland a third goal, while at the other end toothless England tiptoed ineffectively around the edge of the Iceland box.

As far as spectacular European exits go it rivalled even last week's EU referendum, and could have a profound effect for the England team.

In his resignation speech Hodgson, who had no choice but to fall on his sword, praised his players' hunger and dedication. But there little of that on display on a night to rank alongside the worst in English sporting history.

FULL TIME: England 1 Iceland 2: If you thought the Brexit was dramatic what about that!

England, home of the world's richest football league, have been completely humiliated by Iceland at Euro 2016.

Lord Nelson, Lord Beaverbrook, Sir Winston Churchill... David Cameron - your boys took one hell of a beating!


90 mins: Marcus Rashford wins a corner with a rare moment of positivity from England. It goes off Vardy for a goal kick. We're into three minutes of injury time.

88 mins: Boos ring out as Harry Kane humps the ball over the goal from a free kick. That was a dreadful, dreadful ball.

85 mins: England have descended into a shambles, they string together half a dozen passes without ever controlling the ball. Astonishing. Harry Kane completely misses the ball and Iceland break.

Then Aron Gunnarsson almost scores for Iceland on the break. Jack Wilshere can't stop him getting the shot away but Joe Hart saves it.

Roy Hodgson looks lost. He turns to Marcus Rashford in a final throw of the dice. He replaces Wayne Rooney.

80 mins: A chance! There's yet more passing of dubious quality around the box before Wilshere finally produces a moment of excitement with a ball to an unmarked Kane in the box. His header from six yards is straight at Halldorsson.

The crowd are jeering England now, and who can blame them. The game is being played at walking pace.

75 mins: There are gaps showing up in the England defence if not the Iceland defence, and Birkir Saevarsson almost settles the match with a shot that flies just over.

England's passing is getting worse and worse and Iceland hardly look troubled at the moment. England are on the brink of utter humiliation and are going down without much of a fight.

70 mins: Finally England get a chance. Iceland venture out of their own half and are almost caught on the break by Vardy, but a great tackle in the box from Ragnar Sigurdsson saves the day for Iceland.

The corner is, yet again, cleared.

Rooney is now playing at the base of midfield, picking the ball up from Smalling and Cahill.

65 mins: Gunnarsson is booked for a challenge on Alli, but the England man was sold short by a poor pass from Kane. The Spurs strker then takes the free kick from almost 40 yards and it is a dire effort that flies wide.

England look shot. Plan A is not working and they don't appear to have a plan B.

Next up Jack Wilshere shoots wide from distance. England can't even hit the target right now.

60 mins: Time for Jamie Vardy. He replaces Sterling who has been anonymous since winning the penalty in the opening moments of the game.

What can Vardy do though? There is no space to play in or run into and England simply can't break through the Blue Wall. The ball is being passed around the penalty area but there's no way into the box.

Not only that but England's passing is becoming scrappy. Desperation and nerves setting in?

56 mins: Iceland almost make it three! Goalscorer Ragnar Sigurdsson nearly strikes again with a spectacular overhead kick from eight yards after some ping pong in the England box. But Joe Hart keeps it out and England clear.

53 mins: Danny Rose wins a free kick wide on the left. Kane delivers the cross but its cleared. Another cross comes in from Wilshere but Kane's header is straight at the keeper.

There is more pressure from England, but it is all in front of the Iceland box. Wilshere tries to find Alli over the top but the keeper gets there first.

Then it is Iceland's turn to break. They look comfortable on the break and England cannot afford to commit too many men forward just yet.

47 mins: England have certainly started with some urgency, but Daniel Sturridge is booked for a challenge on Ari Skulason and Iceland win a throw in the England half. England clear...

46 mins: We're off again, with Iceland 45 minutes from history and England 45 minutes from humiliation.

What on earth did Roy Hodgson say at half time? What can he do to turn things round? Bring on Jack Wilshere, that's what. The Arsenal man replaces Eric Dier - it's all or nothing for England.

HALF TIME: England 1 Iceland 2 All England's nightmares came true in a first half against Iceland that started so well but turned into a horror story.

Roy Hodgson and his team are now facing the ultimate humiliation despite going a goal up against Iceland inside five minutes.

Raheem Sterling was at the centre of the action as he was hauled down by goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, and referee Damir Skomina pointed to the spot.

Wayne Rooney made no mistake and it seemed for a brief minute that England fans might be spared the usual torture that accompanies knockout games involving the Three Lions. It was not to be and Iceland scored a sensational equaliser within a minute of the restart.

A long throw from Aron Gunarsson was flicked on in the box and Ragnar Sigurdsson lashed the loose ball past Joe Hart. It was an elementary move that left the England defence looking like schoolboys.

But things got even worse after 18 minutes when Iceland launched a rare attack and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson latched onto the loose ball just inside the box. His shot was hardly a bullet, but Joe Hart reacted late and was beaten to leave England in danger of their greatest-ever footballing humiliation.

And there was little to suggest a turnaround as Hodgson's team toiled without reward just as they had done against Russia, Wales and Slovakia in the group stages.

43 mins: Wayne Rooney has been urging England to keep the ball moving but it is too slow as Eric Dier is left short of options and England run out of steam again. Eventually a hopeful ball to Danny Rose goes out of play.

This is all too reminiscent of Slovakia and Russia as England pass the ball around the back four trying in vain to find a route through the Icelandic defence.

35 mins: England are still shooting from range, but so are Iceland - and they are doing it better. Gylfi Sigurdsson is the latest Iceland player to sting Joe Hart's hands. Meanwhile Rooney and Kane have both missed the target.

Now Gylfi Sugurdsson is booked after tangling with Rose as England try to take a quick free kick. Can they break through before half time.

29 mins: Great save from Halldorsson as England finally get a shot on target. Daniel Sturridge collected a great ball from Alli on the right and send it into the box, where Kane hit a sweet volley, but the keeper was just able to tip it over.

Then England almost break through after a lovely run from Rose down the left. This won't finish 2-1...

25 mins: England are rocking here. They can't break through Iceland and certainly can't handle the long throws of Aron Gunnarsson.

His latest delivery is headed clear but is pumped back into the box where Joe Hart looks very nervous under a rugby-style garryowen - but he wins a foul. This is like Wimbledon circa 1988, with England cast as Liverpool.

18 mins: GOAL! Engladn 1 Iceland 2. Joe Hart is beaten by Sigthorsson from 18 yards. What is happening?

The Man City keeper reacted very late to a shot from just inside the box from the Icelandic centre forward and couldn't keep it out.

It's been all England with Sterling making runs in front of Kane and the side obviously under orders to shoot from distance. But it's Iceland who have an astonishing lead. It was only their second attack of the match but Sigthorsson was happy to feast on scraps on the edge of the box as England's defenders stood and watched.

15 mins: After a madcap start England calm things down with some possession, but little penetration. But they miss out as Chris Smalling is able to charge unmarked in the box but cannot get his head to a corner from Rooney.

And it is now all England, with plenty of energy and movement but no space in which to play. Where have we seen this before? Dele Alli hits one from 25 yards but it is just too high.

6 mins: GOAL! England 1 Iceland 1. Iceland equalise within seconds! A long throw into the box is headed on by Arnason and Ragnar Sigurdsson loses Kyle Walker in the six yard box to equalise. What an amazing start to the match. England cannot believe it, there was havoc in the box and Iceland capitalised.

4 mins: GOAL! England 1 Iceland 0. Wayne Rooney makes no mistake from the spot. The kick is low and hard to the keeper's right. Halldorsson goes the right way but can't stop it.

3 min: PENALTY! The man in the headlines is Raheem Sterling and he is brought down by the keeper - penalty

1 min: England get proceedings under way in Nice and as in all three of England's previous games there is early English pressure, but Kyle walker's cross is cleared.

19.55: The teams are out an the anthms are being played with Iceland first up.

Prior to the arrival of the teams England Earlier Roy Hodgson explained his selection choice.

"We've empahsised width," said Hodgson, explaining that he hopes Sterling will pull the Icelandic defence, which likes to sit in a narrow formation, out of shape.

"We know ewe are in for a difficult match but we are ready for it and we have the ability to win the game," he adds.

Joe Hart and Wayne Rooney are the only two players in the England team to have played in a knockout match at a tournament. That was against Italy at Euro 2012.

England go into their first major tournament knockout match for four years with Raheem Sterling back in the fold after Roy Hodgson made six changes to the team that drew 0-0 with Slovakia.

Iceland are unchanged for the fourth game in a row at this tournament.

England vs Iceland LIVE: Sterling returns with Sturridge and Kane

As predicted the Man City winger comes in on the right of a front three alongside Harry Kane and Daniel Sturridge. Adam Lallana is the man to give way, while Jamie Vardy also finds himself on the bench.

Roy Hodgson explains that he wants to add some width to the England formation in order to stretch the Icelandic defence.

Wayne Rooney and Dele Alli are also restored to midfield and the two Spurs full backs, Kyle Walker and Danny Rose, are also back in the side.

Spain and Croatia may already be out, but England would be the biggest casualties of the last 16 if Iceland can pull off what would be a famous victory, that would bring down the curtain on Roy Hodgson's career.

Iceland co-manager Lars Lagerback is the man hoping to send his former mentor into retirement, and the Swede has never lost to England.

But it could be a night for making history, Spain have lost their first match at a European Championships since 2004, while England are searching for their first ever knockout win at the tournament. Their only previous win came in 1996 against Spain on penalties.


England: Hart, Walker, Cahill, Smalling, Rose, Alli, Dier, Rooney, Sturridge, Kane, Sterling.

Iceland: Halldorsson, Saevarsson, Arnason, Ragnar Sigurdsson, Skulason, Gudmundsson, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Gunnarsson, Birkir Bjarnason, Sigthorsson, Bodvarsson.

Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)

Euro 2016: Sterling back as Hodgson tries to unpick Iceland

27 June

Roy Hodgson has handed Raheem Sterling a shock recall to the England side in an attempt to unpick Iceland's defence in the last-16 clash at Euro 2016 tonight.

The Manchester City winger will start on the left of a front three alongside Harry Kane and Daniel Sturridge. Jamie Vardy and Adam Lallana have been dropped.

"Lallana has not scored in 26 England appearances and suffered an injury scare in training this week, while Sterling has been boosted by a personal call from new Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola to tell the £49m youngster to block out negative thoughts," reports the Daily Telegraph.

The paper adds that there were fears that Sterling had been affected by criticism from fans on social media. "But the 21-year-old has convinced Hodgson and his team-mates that he is ready to fire during training over the past couple of days and will step straight back in." However, it notes that the decision to leave out Vardy "appears harsh".

Hodgson will also recall other players dropped for the game against Slovakia.

"Other than Lallana's omission, Hodgson will revert to the side that started the tournament with a 1-1 draw against Russia," says The Times. "Kyle Walker and Danny Rose, the full backs, return to the line-up, as do Wayne Rooney and Dele Alli in midfield, with Sterling and Kane back to complete the front three. Sturridge will keep his place despite an erratic display against Slovakia, with Jamie Vardy dropping to the bench."

England's forwards will be tasked with finding a way through an Icelandic defence based on principles that Hodgson himself helped spread, notes The Guardian.

Iceland are co-managed by Lars Lagerback, who was influenced by and has adopted many of Hodgson's methods, says the paper.

"At Halmstad in the 1970s, Hodgson introduced training methods that concentrated heavily on zonal defending in a 4-4-2 system, inspiring many Swedish coaches. Lagerback has successfully introduced those ideas to the Icelandic national team and Hodgson's primary tactical task is to find weaknesses in the type of defence he greatly admires.

"Hodgson has spent most of his career creating sides who play exactly like Iceland, and he is fully capable of finding weaknesses in their system and instructing his players to attack those zones."

Although the focus will be on Sterling on the left of the attack, England are likely to target the right wing, where Daniel Sturridge will cut inside allowing Kyle Walker space to attack down the flank with Dele Alli also operating on that side of the field.

England practice penalties ahead of Euro 2016 Iceland clash

24 June

The knockout stage of a major international football tournament are nearly upon us, and that means only thing - the odds are on England to lose in a penalty shootout.

The Three Lions have lost six of their seven shootouts at major tournaments since 1990, saddling a generation of players with appearances in Pizza Hut adverts as well as a place in English football infamy. From Stuart Pearce to Chris Waddle to Gareth Southgate to David Batty, they've all blazed the ball over the bar or straight at the goalkeeper and prolonged what is now a half-century of hurt.

This time the humiliation could be particularly painful if England lose on penalties to Iceland when the teams meet on Monday in the final Last 16 tie of the European Championships. On paper Roy Hodgson's team should destroy the tiny nation of 330,000 people, although where have we heard that before? In the past fortnight England have failed to beat Russia and Slovakia, and required a goal at the death to see off Wales, so no English fan is expecting an easy ride against Iceland.

It was perhaps inevitable that when Wayne Rooney sat down in front of the nation's press on Thursday afternoon the talk soon turned to penalties. The last of England's six shootout shambles was at the 2012 Euros, when they lost to Italy in the quarter-finals. Rooney scored his penalty but the two Ashleys - Young and Cole - made a hash of their spot-kicks.

Asked if the squad has been working on kicking a ball into a net from 12 yards, Rooney replied: "We don't practice in terms of, 'You're number one, you're number two,' but the players will practice penalties and we go through the rhythm which we do in a game. Obviously it is different with the crowd and the pressure, but it is important for the players when you practice penalties to practice how you're going to do it."

England's first shootout failure was the semi-final of the 1990 World Cup against West Germany (who then beat Argentina in the final) and six years later the Germans inflicted a similar misery on the Three Lions in the semis of the 1996 Euros. In the previous round England had actually beaten Spain on penalties but normal service was swiftly resumed.

In the 1998 World Cup it was the turn of Argentina to put paid to England's dreams from the penalty spot and then Portugal won two shootouts in quick succession in the quarter-finals of the 2004 Euros and the 2006 World Cup.

"The good thing about this squad now is I don't think there is one player who has been in a shootout and missed for England," said Rooney. "So that won't be hanging over any player."

And asked if he believed England had the edge over Iceland in the shootout stakes, the England skipper responded: "We are confident and if it goes to penalties we will give it our best and hopefully that will be good enough."

Hit and hope, then. Oh dear, England fans, standby for a deja vu.

England vs Iceland: Why Roy Hodgson should be worried

23 June

England may have dodged a bullet and escaped a showdown with Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal in the last 16 at Euro 2016, but they should not expect an easy ride in Nice on Monday night.

Roy Hodgson's men will face Iceland, following the underdog's last-minute winner against Austria last night - and the Three Lions shouldn't think it will be a walkover.

Coached by veteran Lars Lagerback, Iceland beat the Netherlands home and away in qualifying for the tournament and were unbeaten in the group stage. Added to that, Lagerback has never lost to England.

The team have been making history ever since they qualified and the extraordinary reaction of commentator Gudmundur Benediktsson after Arnor Ingvi Traustason netted the winner yesterday illustrates how much the tournament means to the country.

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Indeed, England will not have it easy against the team from the north. Arguably, the pressure is greater than it would be against other, more illustrious opponents.

"On paper, it is probably the biggest mismatch ever in a finals," says Jason Burt of the Daily Telegraph.

But this will be no repeat of the 6-1 drubbing meted out in Manchester the last time the two sides met, even if Wayne Rooney and Eidur Gudjohnson could both feature again.

"Their defensive resilience, that Blue Wall, will test England and, although it is a far more favourable draw for Hodgson than facing Portugal, the ramifications for him not delivering a side to beat Iceland are clear: he will lose his job. No question."

England's opponents have several key strengths, says Jamie Jackson of The Guardian. Chief among them is their ability to pass and move and to counter-attack.

Against Austria, they scored two very different goals. First, they "broke Austria open when they were set up to defend, with many players behind the ball", Jackson adds. "Yet Traustason's winner came from the opposite kind of play: a lightning breakaway move."

It's also notable that the winner was set up by two substitutes. Iceland may have a population of only 300,000, but they have a squad that has strength in depth, he continues.

It has also been noted that the country has the most Uefa-qualified coaches per head of population in the world, so players are well coached from an early age.

Iceland's support could also play a part. Around eight per cent of the population are said to be in France and there were 10,000 cheering them on in Paris. It will be the same in Nice.

Defender Kari Arnason, man of the match against Austria, said the players likely knew "50 per cent" of those cheering them on.

"Even in a sport renowned for fanatical fans this is a unique relationship and is surely one that puts several springs in the side's step," says Jackson.

Joint manager Heimir Hallgrimsson summed up another problem for England - Iceland knows all about them and will be fired up for the game.

"Icelanders know everything about English football, we are English football crazy. I don't think we need analyse them much but I don't think they know too much about Iceland players," he said.

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