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  • Writer's pictureBy Paul Lagan at Wembley Stadium

Well that wasn't in the plan for Southgate and his team as the Three Lions are booed off the pitch as they suffer a 1-0 defeat to Iceland at Wembley

England v Iceland Picture by Paul Lagan
England v Iceland Picture by Paul Lagan

By Paul Lagan at Wembley Stadium

England 0 v Iceland 1


As final game send-offs to a major international tournaments go, this one, for England, was an embarrassing, damp squib as they were humbled by Iceland in front of a packed Wembley Stadium 1-0.

While spin-doctory is at it height in the media now, especially in the so-called political arena of a general election, the arguments that players didn't perform, because they did not want to get injured having already known they were going to Germany next month required a fact-check.

Iceland had a plan – it worked.

England had a plan, it didn't – in fact the boys in Blue looked more comfortable in the second half as they did in the first when they took the lead in the 12th  minute.

In the end, the team in white were shooting, almost aimlessly, in the hope that someone would make a difference or even snatch a wicked deflection.

None of it came to pass and there were boos galore for the home side from the sparse crowd that remained.

Iceland players threw their arms in the air as if they had just won the World Cup, and that difference in attitude resulted in a defeat that could dent the confidence of a squad hoping to finally nail a Euros title

England started well enough, ploughing either wing with one-touch football.

Whereas the opposition's tactics were clear from the first whistle – hang on for dear life, for as long as possible and hope the occasional counter-attack would go their way.

And that's just what happened on 12 minutes.

After a long run by Anthony Gordon on the left which failed to see a good enough cross, he quickly gave the ball away, passing to an Iceland player in the middle of the par.

The quick break was on and it was Jon Dagur Thoresteinsson who got the better of John Stones before arrowing a low, right footed drove just inside Aaron Ramsdale's right ppost to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

England responded well but it was a poor clearance from Hakon Rafin Valdimarsson which gave Cole Palmer his chance but but his effort was deflected away for a corner by Daniel Leo Gretarsson.

Harry Kane missed a sitter on 23 minutes. He beat the offside trap and latched onto the perfect inswinging curler off the left boot of Palmer, on the right, but somehow conspired to volley over the goal from six yards out.

England, as expected had the lions' share of possession but struggled yo get past the two defensive banks set up by Iceland who hugged the edge of the goal area as if their lives depended on it.

England replaced John Stones for Ezri Konsa at half-time.

Some nice, intricate one-touch play saw England create an opening, but Phil Foden's scooped left-footer from the edge of the area, curled harmlessly wide.

Palmer twice fund himself in a good attacking position, bit both times was forced wide to the left where an effective end product was about as successful as a spectator's paper plane landing on the pitch – next to zero.

The first effort on goal in the second half fell to Iceland's Andri Gudjohnsen. His edge-of-are snap shot, was powerful and straight, but Ramsdale collected it expertly on 57 minutes.

A host of changes were subsequently made – on came Ivan Toney, Bukayo Saka, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Joe Gomez, off went, Kane, Walker, Trippier, and Gordon – all on 64 minutes.

Ramsdale produced a wonderful near-post save from Sverrir Ingason from a corner on 66 minutes which could have embarrassed the Three Lions. By contrast Tony, with bis first touch skied a sitter from close-range after Alexander-Arnold pulled back a fine right byline pass to the Brentford star.

A fantastic long-range dipping effort from Saevar Atli Magnusson – Ramsdale did well to keep an eye on the flight of the ball and tip it over his crossbar.

That quartet were soon followed by Eberechi Eze who replaced Palmer.

It gave the Crystal Palace a cap and a run out on the pitch but nothing more than that and the five minutes of added time simply allowed more fans to trickle away in to the night.


Teams: England: Ramsdale, Walker, Trippier, Rice, Stones, Guehi, Palm er, Mainoo, Kane, Foden, Gordon

Suns: Henderson, Pickford, Trafford, Gomez, Quansah, Konsa, Gallagher, Toney, Watkins, Alexander-Arnold, Bowen, Eze, Wharton, Saka

Iceland: Valdimarsson, Ingason, Gretarsson, Gudmundsson, Thoresteinsson , Haraldsson, Finnsson, Bjarkason, Anderson, Traustason, Gudjohnsen

Subs, Olafsson, Gunnarsson, Sampsted, Thorarinsson, Bjarnason, Sigurdsson, Tomasson, Thordarson, Fredrickson, Johannesson, Magnusson, Hlynsson

Referee: Davide Massa - Italy


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