Iceland freezes England, ensures Brexit
Iceland, in their first major tournament, made it to the quarter-finals and are set to face the hosts and favourites France in Paris on July 3. Iceland, just like their previous games, displayed exceptional determination, strength and zeal to deservingly earn their spot in the next stage.
Iceland came into the match with the same squad faor the fourth straight game while England made six changes with Raheem Sterling getting a start in place of Adam Lallana.
With the opportunity that Sterling was provided with, he began brightly for England as inside two minutes, Iceland defender Birkir Mar Saevarsson had to make a block from him. Only a minute later, Sterling broke out from a through ball and in an attempt to collect the ball, goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson brought him down in the box.
Wayne Rooney stepped up to take the penalty and whacked the ball into the bottom left corner. The penalty scored became the fastest penalty in the history of the European Championship.
While the English fans were still reeling with happiness, within a minute, Iceland hit back.
Aron Gunnarsson put a long ball in the middle and Kari Anarsson flicked it with a header allowing Ragnar Sigurdsson to slot the ball home. Despite the shockingly quick equaliser, England calmed their nerves and played a decent possession based football. In the 15th minute, Dele Alli struck the ball just over the bar and as England kept pressing for the goal, a shot from Harry Kane also missed the mark by a whisker.
Iceland froze Roy Hodgson’s squad as they took the lead in the 18th minute. The Strákarnir okkar displayed a neat one-touch football and with room at his disposal, Kolbienn Sigthorsson struck a powerful low shot that Joe Hart failed to hold on to. Following the second goal from Iceland, England fiercely and franticly worked for winners and just before the break, Kane almost found the equaliser but his wonderful volley was pushed over the bar by Halldorsson.
Nothing changed for England in the second half as constant efforts bore no result. Despite two changes in the introduction of Jack Wilshere and Jamie Vardy, England failed to make a meticulous effort at the goal. In the 55th minute, Iceland almost extended their lead but a reaction save from Joe Hart cleared Sigurdsson’s overhead kick.
Iceland seemed happy to defend their post as they pushed all their men behind and despite England’s continuous and best efforts, the Iceland boys remained compact and strong at the back disallowing England any penetration.
With Iceland creating history at the Euro where many big guns have failed to match the expectations, the ecstasy within the Iceland camp was evident as they danced and celebrated with the fans post the match.