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Iceland shocks England to advance to Euro 2016 quarterfinals


England tends to exit tournaments in extravagant ways, but Monday’s elimination was perhaps the most surprising and embarrassing in the country’s history.

Facing off with Iceland, a nation populated by just over 300,000 people, England suffered Euro 2016 elimination via a 2-1 scoreline. With the win, Iceland advances to the Euro 2016 quarterfinals against hosts France.

It took just four minutes for England to strike, as they did so with a penalty kick. After Raheem Sterling was taken down by Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldórsson, Wayne Rooney buried the ensuing penalty to give England the early advantage.

That advantage lasted just six minutes, as Ragnar Sigurdsson darted past Kyle Walker before firing past Joe Hart to level the scoreline at one apiece.

In the 18th minute, England’s wheels fell off. On what was Iceland’s best passing sequence of the half, Kolbeinn Sigthorsson drove a low shot towards Joe Hart. The Manchester City goalkeeper parried the shot right into the net, leaving England 2-0 down.

England struggled to create throughout the second half, as Iceland’s defense stood tall and limited England to a series of wayward crosses and long shots. In the end, England suffered a remarkable defeat in what served as the surprise of the tournament.

Iceland returns to action against France on Sunday, where they will look to continue their miraculous tournament run.


Ragnar Sigurdsson was a star in defense for Iceland, making tackle after tackle to seal a historic victory.


Kolbeinn Sigthorsson’s finish gave Iceland the lead, and the underdogs never looked back following the 18th minute goal.


Once again, Joe Hart’s struggles in goal headlined an England performance, as Monday’s failure doomed England to a shocking elimination.


  1. i am both excited by and discouraged by Iceland doing so well, and Chile winning the Copa for the second straight year. Neither team has historically been good . . . and now both are – at least this year – – among the international elite. Fantastic to see these two countries winning; but, why can the US make the next step too.

    • Until we have their soccer culture, we will meander as a mid-tier world footballing nation.

      Iceland’s gov’t basically decided to pour a ton of resources into improving soccer in the country. You can get away with that in social democracies. In a cultural set-up like the U.S. it’s much harder as too many different hands want to use their ideas and have their piece of the pie.

      Iceland created an environment where all their children have access to both top-notch facilities and coaching with their being one singular philosophy as to how they should play the game. Good luck building anything like that in this country on anything bigger than a local scale.

    • Chile not historically good ? Apparently you don’t remember El Matador.

      And Marcelo Bielsa’s time coaching them changed everything – Chile and world football.

      • They have rarely been great and being in a tougher region to qualify has caused them to miss WCs, but they were no where near the low quality of Iceland in the past. This is their greatest generation that they’ve ever produced though, and the two tournaments in Russia are probably there last chances for World glory. By next Summer Vargas and Sanchez should be the countries all-time top 2 goal scorers and Bravo already is the cap leader.

  2. This was not about minnow Iceland winning because they were better than England. This was about a collection of strong, yes excellent, England players (Rashford excepted) playing the worst, most embarrassing game I have ever seen. England earned the humiliation.

  3. “The Manchester City goalkeeper parried the shot right into the net, leaving England 2-0 down.”

    Um, no. England was never 2-0 down.

    • Just read the articles on ESPN or Goal or somewhere else and then come here for the discussion. Even at our worst we are usually more civilized than the comments on those sites. It is still better writing than SBI Nation, most of the time.

  4. Chile would absolutely kill it in the Euros. There is something to be said for having a lot of quick incredibly fit players who flat-out hustle every second they are on the pitch. I know “hustle” is seen as a naive thing in some quarters, but Chile converted every 50-50 ball into a 60-40 ball in their favor throughout the entire Copa. They were fun to watch. And they won it all.

  5. I only England had pro/rel, a real youth development program, no wasted college years, more players in the EPL, and a manager who is a part-time dentist.

    • But much like MLS most of the EPLs stars aren’t English. Only 5 out of the top 20 goalscorers were English and two of them weren’t called in to the national team. Assists and clean sheets were equally dominated by internationals. Of course Spain has the best league in the world and crashed out just the same, but to Italy not Iceland.

    • The funny thing is that English fans simply use the same logic as many clueless American fans, the over simplified logic of “player A plays in this better league so he is automatically better than any players that play in these leagues”. Almost all English players play in the Premier League so of course they think they are better. As I said most U.S. fans actually agree with that logic, even though they would tell an English fan that England is not better than the U.S. As usual it just depends what is convinient at the time.

      • I am one of those who subscribe to the, “if they play in this league they must be better than someone who plays in this lesser league.” However, soccer is a game between two 2 teams of 11 players each. If you have a bunch of individuals who don’t play together, how good they are individually may not count for much. I think England has had a problem for quite a while with what a lot of fans, even English fans, see as English players being rather selfish, spoiled, and not committed enough. In fact, it looked like only that kid Rashford who came on late was playing with real passion and he almost made a real difference. Effort still counts and it is the best team that usually wins, not just the best collection of players.

  6. i know it’s an easy stat to throw out there, but we really need to get over this idea that a country’s total population has much to do with how good they are at a certain sport. soccer-wise, iceland isn’t some unheard-of minnow, and this wasn’t some inconceivable upset, just a normal one.

    • Just to support your comment, Holland has 16 million, or less than half of California and they were a world power for almost 40 years. Paraguay and Uruguay are both small and Chile has only 17 million. Belgium has 11 million, Croatia slightly over 4. Many instances of small countries producing good or better soccer teams.

    • No one on this site is arguing that there is any correlation between the size of a country and its soccer prowess. Quite the contrary. Iceland is a prime example that careful planning and investment in youth programs can pay huge dividends.

      • Not today, but its a pretty regular argument that we should never lose to anyone with a population less than name average size state and victories over said countries don’t really count because its not fair they don’t have more people. I believe the argument was floated as recently as the Ecuador or Bolivia friendlies.

      • second sentence in the article:

        “Facing off with Iceland, a nation populated by just over 300,000 people, England suffered Euro 2016 elimination via a 2-1 scoreline.”

        it’s not explicitly stated (in this article), but the obvious implication is that it’s so crazy that a country with a small population could beat england. and my comment wasn’t specific to this site; look at pretty much any article on iceland’s success and it will mention their population.

      • Nate: even though I’ve followed soccer for 30 years and have seen big upsets, I still have to admit I’m a little stunned by this result. Iceland’s emergence in soccer is well documented (they played a part in keeping France out of the ’94 WC so this isn’t new), but it’s still a big deal (and pretty cool that it’s against England).

        Count me as a fan of this expanded Euro field. It’s brought more positives than negatives imho.

  7. When uninformed Americans ask why the USMNT, with a pool of 300+ million people, can’t just go out a win the world cup, show them this game.

    Oh how I wish Iceland was playing Portugal in the Quarters and have a chance to cram pretty boy’s words down his throat… Instead, I will be rooting for the motherland to extinguish this incredible story.

      • djdj- You just made my point. Population size doesn’t matter. Try to keep up.

        PS: China is not even 4 times as big as the US. That one was on the house.

      • I didn’t read the parent comment so that is on me. My mistake. That being said, since you want to talk down to me the US population is 317 Million. The population of china is at LEAST 1.3 Billion. 317×4 which is <1.3 Billion so you must be wrong. Next time be correct when you decide to correct someone lest you look like an arrogant dumbass.

      • djdj- yeah that was on you. Next time, instead of rushing to post what you think is a clever comment, take a long breath and pause for a minute. Not to quibble on numbers, but I was still way closer in my comparison of population than you were it. And good one on the name calling. That’s usually a sure sign of having a winning argument

      • Again with the name calling… I really didn’t want to do multiplications this late at night, but here we go: actual population of US is 323M. Population of China is 1.377B. Four times the population of US is 1,292B but five times the population of US is 1,615B. So yeah I was off by about 85M but you were off by 240M.

        Can’t wait to see what clever name you respond with, should be good…

    • Apples to oranges.

      Our sporting landscape & athletic pool is unrivaled and incredibly unique. The U.S.’s greatest liability is the best athletes more often chose different sports after their youth. I think that trend is on the verge of adapting/changing with MLS gaining traction, but it won’t be any time soon.

      • That “best athletes” idea needs to be retired. Its wrong. Soccer is unique sport that requires a specific set of skills–and being small and quick is often a huge asset. Pele, Maradona, Messi, Suzaez, Iniesta, Xavi and tons of other world class players are short or average and weigh next to nothing compared to an average college running back or corner, and look nothing like basketball players. Soccer players run many miles a game and every position requires intense quickness– being smaller and especially lighter helps. Spain and Brazil have pretty good basketball teams, but those players don’t look anything like their footballers.

      • It’s crazy that Landon Donovan had never even heard of Bayer Leverkusen before they signed him. I mean how many kids even 10 years ago just didn’t even think there was real path to becoming a professional soccer player. The more generations growing up with EPL UCL MLS and everything in between on TV is whats changing the landscape.

      • I disagree this topic needs to be retired.

        Pele, Maradona, Messi, Suzaez, Iniesta, Xavi

        I understand that sort of reasoning and I should have clarified. I’m not exclusively refering to physical specimens like a LeBron James. I’m talking just purely good athletes. I consider Xavi an outstanding athlete. There’s no denying the training regiment he’s been a part of, but Xavi has tools that can’t be taught…just like elite athleticism.

        Once we show a consistent ability to retain said elite athletes I’ll refrain from the topic. Until then, we have far too many pay-for-play style “athletes” and not enough actual athleticism.

      • You can’t tell me that most American football players who are 6’3 and below couldn’t have been soccer players. They weren’t 250 lbs – 300 lbs as kids, had they chosen soccer and developed as kids they would certainly have a chance. NFL DBs are the prototype size for soccer, they’ve trained to add muscle so they can slow down 230 lb rbs, but if they were building lean muscle and training for the cardio that comes with soccer they would be fine. Obviously, they would have to develop soccer specific skills, but Yedlin is almost the prototype NFL CB maybe an inch short.

        Peter Crouch scored around 100 EPL goals and 22 for England at about an inch shorter than LeBron James, you are telling me you couldn’t train LeBron to head balls into the net better than that if he had started when he was 9 and put all his energy into that instead of basketball he wouldn’t have bulked up to 250 he’d be around 215 to 220. Zlatan is 6’5 210 a pretty normal size in the NBA, Ronaldo is 6’1 175 an NBA point guard size and Suarez is 6’0 180 which is a pretty big NFL CB. No one is talking about Gronk or JJ Watt sized athletes running around midfield at 280+

        Put the best athletes argument to bed, put the we need the kids that are two short for Cross Country argument to bed.

      • I thought SBI was above the …if only our best athletes played soccer argument. Stereotypically stupid American thinking. We are so inherently superior to the rest of the world that we’d dominate if we simply chose to do it. Somehow if we had Lebron James and Kobe Bryant play soccer we’d win.

      • toughest thing we run into coaching these kids is the tactical awareness part, the awareness of how, when, where, why to move off the ball. Growing up watching games all the time is the biggest help towards changing this in the US imo…and it’s happening. There’s so many games on and now more of the parents actually like to watch too, which is huge in the minds of their kids.

        other tactical things we generally struggle with imo involve massaging the clock and tactical fouling which again, to me, is indicative of the US soccer culture that simply did not have soccer on the TV 24 7 like in so much of the rest of the world to see and learn all of this stuff. It’s nuanced, you know?

        Anyway, when I lived in Italy in the 80s it was non stop, and the sports newspapers were ubiquitous dailys that covered only calcio. All of Europe was psycho for soccer all the time.

        the technical stuff we can teach them, the physical too, and yes the tactical, but not the way a kid learns so much of that by watching a million games growing up

        anyway, that’s what we’re seeing

        but we’re getting there over here

      • oh and of course, we’re not at a national level for playing pickup soccer every day either after school, at aschool, although that too is changing and bigger in places but a long way to go

      • Danny no one is saying throwing them out there at age 18 or 19 without training would work, look at Chad Ochocinco trying to make SKC. However, if guys like Kobe or Lebron had started at age 7 or 8 they certainly would of had as good of chance of developing as any other kid and probably better based on their athleticism if they had put in as much time in soccer as they did in basketball. Saying only short skinny kids can play soccer is being a pure soccer snob.

      • Adam- You do know that when football, soccer and basketball players are 10 years old they all look the same size right? Each sport athlete builds his body to fit the needs of the sport. Yes, if you are 6’11 and want to play soccer you have keeper as a position and that’s about it (Hakeem Olajuwon and Manute Bol).

        I guess by your logic US soccer is middle of the road because are players are too big.

        GK-Guzan 6’4 210
        LB-Johnson 6’0 165
        CB-Wall of Brooks 6’4 couldn’t find weight has to be at least 2 bills
        CB-Geoff Cameron 6’3 185
        RB- Deandre Yedlin 5’8 150
        MF- Ale Bedoya 5’10 160
        MF- Jermaine Jones 6’0 180
        MF- Michael Bradley 6’1 180
        MF- Gyasi Zardes 6’2 175
        FW- Clint Dempsey 6’1 170
        FW- Bobby Wood 5’10 175

        Everyone of those guys with a couple months training would look right at home in an NFL locker room, they would all look normal in MLB clubhouse, and six of eleven of them have the size to play in the NBA.

      • Johnnyrazor, you’re not wrong, but you’re line of thinking is off. Yes, had lebron, curry, etc. Grew up playing soccer, they probably would be fine players, but because these guys have the drive and will to become elite, not because of their size and strength.

        I would also suggest an alternate way to look at someone’s physical strength and speed. I saw an awesome episode of sports science that was a real eye opener. They compared CR7, one of the fastest players both with a ball and without, and had him race a sprinter from Barcas track and field team. He lost, and I wouldn’t call it a blow out, but it wasn’t close. If I remember correctly, the sprinter wasn’t all that great either, I don’t think he even qualified for the London olympics.

        Next, they had them race not in a strait line sprint, but a slalom course. In this race, CR7 destroyed him. He won because while he was not an elite sprinter, he had an elite foot turnover rate. He has very quick feet, which is what allows guys like CR7 and Messi to have a close dribble, even in a full sprint. They don’t need to take long strides, they just take more steps. No need to boot the ball forward just to maintain your speed. Running backs, who are so good at shortening their stride and chnage direction as they approach opposition, with a soft touch would probably make far more elite players than a someone with lebron height and size (even without the addef bulk), or someone with Usain bolt speed, but and inability to cycle their feet faster (this is why yedlin will never be a good winger, just a great wing back.)

  8. How is this shocking? When was England actually good at football? 1966, the early Middle Ages?

    One cannot equate the overhyped, overpaid and severely overrated PL players with a good national team.

    The media machine that makes the PL what it is can only do so much when the national team “performs”.

    How is this any different from them being bounced off by Costa Rica in the group stage 2 years ago in the WC?

    Move along, nothing to see here…

    • I don’t think anyone is surprised, just happy it happened! By minute 10 even the English commentators (Ian Darke) would not stop talking about how low this national team is and how great Iceland is. England has been in this rut for a long time now and it’s really enjoyable! I thought this infusion of younger players would bring some change to their side but I guess not!

  9. Somewhere Aron Johannsson is looking at a picture of a smiling Klinsmann and looking at Iceland making history and then asking himself, “What have I done?”

    • There’s a reason why we called him in before they did, Iceland has some good players and nearly qualified for Brazil. He’s just got worry about getting back on the field at this point.

      • AJ played for the Iceland U-21s and had been called into the Iceland senior team in 2012, but had to withdraw due to, as you might expect, injury.

        And as I’ve said before they have so much quality at his positions, that I’m not sure he makes this Iceland 23.

      • As I recall, Iceland were going all out to secure AJ. I distinctly remember him turning down call-ups from Iceland in the months leading up to him being cap-tied with the US. I also remember Iceland being bitter through the media, too, regarding his decision.

        They very much wanted his services.

      • @Old School, not only did they complain to the media, but the Iceland FA actually brought a formal complaint to FIFA that USSF had tampered with one of their players (Johannsson) because Klinsmann had been in contact with him for months courting him to play for USMNT. They absolutely wanted Johannsson on their team.

    • Iceland still hasn’t made the World Cup and we have made 7 in a row, going on 8. If he weren’t injured so much, he might be an important part of the team. He shouldn’t have any regrets. If he stayed with Iceland, he would still be injured and not playing at all for anyone right now.


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