England Crash out of Euro 2016 with humiliating 2-1 defeat to Iceland.
Roy Hodgson’s uninspiring reign as England coach has never been under more jeopardy as his side crashed embarrassingly out of Euro 2016 to with a 2-1 defeat to football minnows Iceland; who were playing at their first ever major tournament. It was a ghastly showing from one of the favourites to win the competition, but we must not be surprised, Hodgson has never delivered for England.
The Three Lions hadn’t scored a goal in the opening half of a Euro 2016 match prior to the round of 16 but were awarded a penalty in the opening five minutes after Raheem Sterling was bought down inside the area by Iceland Goalkeeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson; who is also a part time film director. It seemed as if England would push on from this point as Wayne Rooney converted the penalty comfortably to score his first goal of the tournament. After total domination of the ball in the early stages England somehow found themselves pegged back as Iceland equalised less than two minutes later as Roy Hodgsons side failed to defend a simple throw in. Cardiff City midfielder Aron Gunnarsson latched onto the end of a long throw and nodded it on to Ragnar Sigurdsson who was in acres of space and found the net past a flapping Joe Hart. But surely this was just a blip.
It wasn’t .The instant response from Iceland sent shockwaves throughout the Allianz Rivera which transcended onto the football pitch. England were stunned but it would only depreciate from here. Roy Hodgson’s side tried to hit back at Iceland as Harry Kane came closest to restoring the lead with a volley hit straight at the Iceland goalkeeper. Shortly after, Eric Dier plainly lumped the ball out of the pitch while attempting an ambitious crossfield pass which summed up England’s night in Nice. The ambiance around the ground was flat, in direct response to the football on display. It seemed calculable that England would eventually regain the lead at some point, through talent alone at least, but it was Iceland who went ahead. Joe Hart has had a miserable time at the Euros but matters were made worse as he fumbled a scuffed shot from Kolbein Sigthorsson and the ball rolled slowly into the England net as the Nordic outfit took the lead in the 18th minute. Elation in one corner of the stadium, silence summed up the rest.
England have never fully delivered in international tournaments but the pitiful attempt at scrambling back into this game before the half time whistle must have been an all-time low for many of the fans who travelled to the south of France. England were a goal down at the break, but one would assume Roy Hodsgon to have some inspiring words to put his team back on track. However, just two minutes into the second period it was obvious that the journeyman coach’s half time team talk must have been drab and colourless. Hodgson, who never strikes you as the fiery type could’ve at least showed some fight to save his county from the biggest national football embarrassment since Beckham’s red against Argentina in 98. However, his ambition was epitomised by the fact he stood with his hands in his pockets for the majority of the second half.
That said, the players can hardly walk away from tonight with any pride. The talent and reputation in the squad alone should be enough to breeze past such opposition. Some of them may never wear the shirt again; and that’s how they will be remembered. Coming off the back of a golden boot winning season, Harry Kane looked like he was wearing the prestigious award on his feet as he slammed several shots miles wide. The Spurs striker was also on set piece duty under instructions given by his manager. With Wayne Rooney, Jack Wilshere and Dele Alli on the pitch and better suited to this role it’s an utterly baffling decision and could have cost England a ticket to the quarter finals, and ultimately Roy Hodgson his job.
England looked out of ideas. Recent Premier League champion and fan favourite Jamie Vardy was introduced to replace Raheem Sterling at the three-quarter mark to add some much-needed venom to the plainly innocuous England Frontline. But it was to no avail, The second half played out in identical nature to the first. Harrowed looks from the fans were accompanied with whistles and boos as England were staring humiliation in the face. It can’t have helped that the England fans were booing but they can wield no portion of the blame.
Manchester United teenager, Marcus Rashford came on for his Club Captain Wayne Rooney and showed character running at the Iceland defence and trying to cause them problems. The tricky winger beat two men to win a corner and got the crowd back on their feet. England had a multitude of set pieces in the final minutes, but the quality of delivery was consistently poor.
There was one more chance in the third minute of added time, half time substitute Jack Wilshire crossed the ball and Jamie Vardy attacked it bravely, it looked to be heading in but some more stoic defending from Kari Arnason made sure Iceland advanced to the next round.
Credit must be issued to the Iceland team who have earned national hero status. They fought for every ball and ran twice as far as their opposition. They now face the host nation France in the capital.
At the final whistle the England players fell to the floor, to match the bar of the level of performance they had just showcased. However, Roy Hodgson was seen smiling and headed straight down the tunnel. I think he is fully aware of the consequences of such an abject and an embarrassing defeat.