Woeful England sign off for Euros with limp Iceland defeat


Woeful England lost their final warm-up game ahead of a tournament for the first time since 1968 as minnows Iceland left Wembley with a deserved 1-0 win.

The Three Lions were soundly beaten by the minnows who finished fourth in their qualifying group for the finals, yet looked the more potent throughout England’s final warm-up game and could have won by more.

They caught the hosts out with their first attack of the game when Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson was played over the halfway line and turned John Stones, before beating Aaron Ramsdale too easily at his near post.

Harry Kane squandered a glorious first-half chance to level when he blazed Cole Palmer’s delicate cross over from six yards, but England created few other clear-cut chances of note, while John Stones was withdrawn at the interval as a precaution after suffering an early knock on his ankle.

Instead, Thorsteinsson wasted an even better opportunity to double Iceland’s lead after the break when he mistimed a free effort from Hakon Arnar Haraldsson’s square ball as England were cut through with increasing ease.

Boos greeted the final whistle as England’s hopes of ending their preparations on a high became a damp squib, with the Three Lions needing an unrecognisable performance when they face Serbia in Gelsenkirchen in nine days’ time to allay a number of concerns.

Player ratings

England: Ramsdale (5), Walker (4), Stones (4), Guehi (7), Trippier (5), Rice (5), Mainoo (6), Foden (5), Palmer (6), Gordon (6), Kane (4).

Subs: Konsa (6), Alexander-Arnold (7), Gomez (5), Toney (5), Saka (5), Eze (6).

How plucky Iceland haunted England again

England began with the verve with which they had ended their eventual stroll to victory against Bosnia and Herzegovina, pinning Iceland in and dictating play against a block even lower than the one they had faced on Monday night.

But from one simple move, they were caught out 12 minutes in and never recovered. With Declan Rice and Kyle Walker caught up-field, a quick interchange of passing on the left left England exposed and allowed Thorsteinsson to run at Stones.

Image:
Iceland’s Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson scored the only goal in the 12th minute

The Man City defender was turned too easily before Ramsdale compounded the errors ahead of him by allowing the ball to squirm in at his near post.

Kane should have made amends soon after but sidefooted a golden opportunity over when Palmer cut inside and lofted a fine ball into the England captain.

The Chelsea man went close himself after Rice’s pressure forced goalkeeper Hakon Rafn Valdimarsson into a poor pass straight at him, but Daniel Leo Gretarsson denied him with an important block.

Stones did not re-emerge for the second half after Thorsteinsson landed awkwardly on him in the first minute, but England did at least improve in the early minutes following the interval.

Palmer shot wide from a tight angle following a heavy touch and Kane guided an Anthony Gordon cross wide before Iceland began to expose increasing gaps in the England midfield.

Hakon Arnar Haraldsson was the beneficiary of one-such break, finding space on the right and waiting to release Thorsteinsson, who had a tap-in to double Iceland’s lead but let the Three Lions off the hook with a poor connection.

Team news

  • Gareth Southgate made eight changes to the England team that started against Bosnia and Herzegovina, with only Marc Guehi, Kieran Trippier and Cole Palmer keeping their places.

England’s problems became worse as they were almost exposed from a corner soon after, with Gretarsson’s back-post header only kept out by a smart Ramsdale save.

A number of changes swung the momentum back into the hosts’ favour but they could only huff and puff, as they had done all game, without ever forcing a difficult save out of Valdimarsson.

The closest they came to an equaliser was through substitute Trent Alexander-Arnold, who saw an injury-time effort deflected just past the far post.

That would have been more than England deserved, as a chastening defeat reminded them of how much work is still to be done before their Group C campaign begins next Sunday.

Southgate: We weren’t good enough

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Gareth Southgate explained where he felt England can improve after defeat to Iceland in their final match before Euro 2024.

England manager Gareth Southgate:

“You’d like a good performance, a crowd that’s been entertained and to be leaving on a high.

“Clearly, the performance wasn’t at the level it needed to be. There are some very clear reasons for that, and it gives us a chance to focus the mind.

“These last games going into tournaments can be a little bit scrappy like that, in terms of focus because players are worried about picking up an injury.

“The most disappointing part tonight was out of possession, we didn’t press well. We were too stretched, and in the last two or three games in particular we’ve been excellent at that. With the ball, we could have been better, but we still created some very good chances.

“A lot of the players needed the minutes, who have been coming back from injury, who have played a lot but had a week’s break, and are out of that rhythm.

“Of course, at the end where you ideally want the experience on the pitch to keep the calm and work your way back into the game, we were taking those players off to look after them.

“I’m not going to dress up the disappointment about the performance, but we have to stay calm because we know what has to be put right and we’ll put that right before the game with Serbia.”

The key dates for England

All times BST

Monday June 10 – England squad fly to Germany

Saturday June 16 – Serbia vs England, Gelsenkirchen, kick-off 8pm

Thursday June 20 – Denmark vs England, Frankfurt, kick-off 5pm

Tuesday June 25 – England vs Slovenia, kick-off 8pm



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