Embarrassing England humiliated by inspired Iceland once again

EditorLast Update :
Embarrassing England humiliated by inspired Iceland once again

A lackadaisical England side suffer a chastening 1-0 loss to Iceland in their final Euro 2024 warm-up friendly at Wembley.

Eight years on from suffering one of their worst-ever humiliations at the hands of Iceland at Euro 2016, lightning struck twice for a lackadaisical England side at Wembley, as the Three Lions suffered a shock 1-0 friendly loss to Age Hareide‘s men at Wembley.

In their final warm-up friendly ahead of Euro 2024, where they were hitherto considered one of the main contenders to go all the way, Gareth Southgate‘s side were found wanting throughout the 90 minutes and succumbed to a Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson strike in front of a flat atmosphere.

Hundreds headed for the turnstiles well before the full-time whistle blew, which triggered a chorus of boos from the home crowd, who were forced to witness a hugely uninspiring performance from their troops against the world’s 72nd-ranked nation.

The visitors could and perhaps should have won by more on the night, leaving Southgate with plenty of questions to answer and predicaments to solve before the real business gets underway in Germany, but Friday’s showing has done little to enhance England’s favourites tag.

Shades of Bosnia as Thorsteinsson shocks England

While Southgate was still unable to call upon Jude Bellingham‘s services, the Three Lions boss was able to put out an XI closer to what he intends to put out from the first whistle at the Euros, including Cole Palmer on the right and Phil Foden in a central position.

The latter was responsible for the Three Lions’ first meaningful attack, picking out the run of Kieran Trippier on the left with a sensational pass from deep, although that move quickly fizzled out.

Trippier’s Newcastle United colleague Anthony Gordon was enjoying plenty of touches out on the left and had the beating of Bjarki Bjarkason more often than not, but as was the case in the first half of the Bosnia friendly, penetration was lacking.

Not even the reintroduction of Declan Rice could plug the gaps in the hosts’ midfield, which were ruthlessly exposed by Iceland in the 12th minute, when Thorsteinsson cut inside John Stones and fired in a crisp low strike inside Aaron Ramsdale‘s near post.

Whether the Arsenal man could have covered his angles better was a hot-button topic, although he was always set to drop back down to the bench for the Euros anyway; for now, he witnessed a park-the-bus Iceland thwart England at almost every opportunity.

The Three Lions’ persistence to break the lines centrally rather than whip in a cross for Kane was costing them dear, although their few deliveries were often headed away with ease, and the absence of Harry Maguire diminished their set-piece threat significantly.

Only one real chance of note came the hosts’ way in the 28th minute, where Palmer’s cross was on the money for an onside Kane to seemingly volley home from a few yards out, but in the tale of England’s first half, the Bayern Munich talisman missed a sitter.

Despite having an embarrassment of creative riches on the bench in Trent Alexander-Arnold, Bukayo Saka and Eberechi Eze, Southgate made just the one alteration at the break, substituting Stones for Ezri Konsa after a first-minute injury scare for the Manchester City defender.

The hosts were at least showing more attacking intent at the start of the second half, albeit without the ruthlessness to match, and it was still far too easy for the visitors to have a crack when the opportunity arose; Andri Gudjohnsen fizzed a half-volley into Ramsdale’s grasp in the 57th minute with nobody in white near him.

Just before Alexander-Arnold, Saka, Ivan Toney and Joe Gomez were brought on in a triple change, Iceland should have humiliated England further with a second in the 63rd minute as Hakon Arnar Haraldsson beat the offside trap and squared for Thorsteinsson, but the goalscorer got caught under his own feet.

More defensive frailties arose just four minutes later, and England were indebted to Ramsdale for stopping Daniel Gretarsson‘s back-post header from a corner, further increasing the frustration and annoyance among the Wembley faithful.

Alexander-Arnold – occupying an out-and-out right-back role this time – nearly sparked the hosts’ leveller in the 69th with a slick low cross to fellow substitute Toney, but the ball was just behind the Brentford man, whose scuffed strike flew over the bar.

As a torturous watch drew to a close, an inspired Iceland looked the more likely to add to their advantage, and a couple of wayward shots from white shirts bounced wide in added time before the hosts were booed off the pitch.

What went wrong for England in Iceland defeat?

Perhaps a better phrasing would be what went right for England tonight, and the answer is not much whatsoever.

Southgate and co would have surely prepared to face an Iceland side packing every man behind the ball, but there was no adaptation to England’s lacklustre attacking play, which Iceland comfortably repelled almost every time.

The hosts were far too central every time they tried to penetrate the blue backline, neglecting the wide areas until Alexander-Arnold managed to fashion a couple of second-half chances, although the quality of their crossing was pretty substandard as well.

Credit where credit is due to Iceland’s rock-solid defending, though, and Hareide’s men – who had not played a game together since March – simply looked like they wanted it more than England, whose midfield was also non-existent.

Kane’s collector’s item of a miss did not help the hosts either, but with Saka, Bellingham, Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Pickford surely primed to return to the first XI in time for the opening Euros fixture on June 16, the panic button can remain enclosed in its glass case for now.

ID:545428:1false2false3false:QQ:: from db desktop :LenBod:collect9610:No Data Analysis info