England has suffered one of its worst defeat in history after loosing their round of sixteen clash 2-1 against Iceland.
England certainly had the personnel to save themselves after that wild 15-minute spell in the first half when Iceland – little, patronised Iceland – scored twice to turn the game upside down. This, however, was a dismal night for Rooney, Daniel Sturridge and particularly Kane. Raheem Sterling won the penalty that gave England their early lead but did little otherwise to justify his recall and, defensively, it must have been startling for Hodgson to see the way they capitulated.
Sturridge’s curling pass sent Sterling running into the penalty area and Iceland’s goalkeeper, Hannes Halldorsson, brought him down to give away a penalty. Rooney aimed the ball, low and hard, to the goalkeeper’s right and at that stage England’s supporters might have been lulled into thinking this was an evening when their team would win with something to spare.
Instead the equaliser arrived within two minutes and was bordering on tragicomedy given that it was the first time Gunnarsson had hurled in the ball from the touchline. England, Hodgson had told us, knew all about this trick and would be drilled to guard against it. Yet it was difficult to see any hard evidence. One Icelandic centre-half flicked the ball on, the second ran in and applied the final touch. Rooney had been beaten by Kari Arnason for the first header and Kyle Walker was even more culpable in the way he failed to cover Ragnar Sigurdsson’s run into the six-yard area.
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Iceland’s second goal followed in the 18th minute and, in fairness to Hart, he was not the only one at fault. Cahill and Chris Smalling both stood off as Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Sigthorsson exchanged passes on the edge of the penalty area. Sigthorsson moved in between England’s centre-halves, took aim with his right foot and Hart was diving to his left, just as he did for the Bale goal, when he helped the ball into the net.
By that stage Hodgson had brought on Jamie Vardy in place of Sterling. Jack Wilshere had already come on at half-time, replacing Eric Dier, and Marcus Rashford was introduced in the 85th minute. What a statistic it is that Rashford completed more dribbles – three – in that time than any other England player throughout the match. Hodgson had taken off Rooney when it surely made better sense to remove a defender. None of it worked and England will never live it down.