England vs Iceland – five things we learned

Nice (France) (AFP) – Tiny Iceland beat England 2-1 in their Euro 2016 last-16 game in Nice on Monday, one of the biggest ever shocks in major tournament football. Here AFP Sports looks at five things we learned from the match.

– New chapter opens in Iceland’s fairytale –

Iceland’s fairytale debut major tournament just gets better and better. From their first ever point, to their first ever win, then qualification for the knock-out stage, and now they play hosts France in a “blue-on-blue” quarter-final in Paris. 

Iceland began the game with nothing to lose and confident of rattling England. But two goals in the opening 20 minutes was surely beyond the wildest dreams of any Nordic fan, especially after Wayne Rooney’s fourth-minute penalty put England in front. 

Roared on by their vociferous and disbelieving delirious fans, “David” deservedly slayed “Goliath”, while handing an embarrassing defeat of historic proportions to England.

– Lars Lagerback may have a hex on England –

The 67-year-old joint coach of Iceland extended his personal unbeaten record against England to seven games. 

He enjoyed plenty of success against England in nine years as Sweden coach and his pre-match comments that his familiarity with them could help Iceland pull off a monumental upset proved on the mark.

– Iceland’s not-so-secret weapon still struck – 

England cannot say they weren’t warned. Before the game Roy Hodgson said that “you would have to be blind not to be aware” of Aron Gunnarsson’s powerful throw-ins. 

But in a carbon copy of their first goal against Austria in the group stage, the Iceland captain launched a raking missile from the sideline into the heart of the box where it was flicked on by Kari Arnason to the onrushing Ragnar Sigurdsson, who scored.

– Joe Hart Euro 2016 horror show –

The Manchester City goalkeeper had another night he will want to forget in a hurry. Against Wales in the group stage, he helped in rather than kept out Gareth Bale’s free-kick. 

For Iceland’s first goal, Ragnar Sigurdsson was quicker than Hart to pounce on Arnason’s flick-on on from Gunnarsson’s throw-in.

The second was even worse. Iceland’s combination play across the box turned England’s defence first one way then the other, but Sigthorsson’s shot didn’t carry venom. Hart still let the ball squeeze under his arm.

– England’s strikeforce again impotent –

Throughout England’s ultimately miserable Euro 2016 Roy Hodgson failed to settle on a potent striking unit. 

The England coach restored Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling to a front three also featuring Daniel Sturridge, but the shuffle did not provide the incision in the final third that had been lacking all tournament. 

As against Russia and Slovakia in the group stage, the front three rarely threatened to score, with an England equaliser looking less likely than Iceland adding to their lead.  

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