Iceland forces England exit to continue miracle run at Euro 2016

Henry Bushnell
FC Yahoo

There are upsets. There are sporting fairytales. And then there is this: an island closer to Greenland than the European continent stunning one of the continent's soccer powers to reach the quarterfinals.

[ FC Yahoo: Hear Iceland commentator squeal while calling the winning goal ]

Iceland toppled England 2-1 in the Round of 16 at the European Championships on Monday and, in doing so, waltzed farther into a dreamland that not even the tiny island nation of 330,000 could have known existed. The Icelanders continue to defy both logic and expectations and next face host nation France in the last eight on Sunday.

[ FC Yahoo: Soccer Twitter revels in England misery with Brexit jokes, memes ]

The result had an immediate impact for England, with manager Roy Hodgson resigning after the game.

[ EURO 2016 | Predictions | Scores/Schedule | Standings | Teams ]

England actually went ahead three minutes in, which makes Monday's story more remarkable. Daniel Sturridge put a through ball into the path of Raheem Sterling's penetrating run, and the Manchester City winger was brought down by Iceland keeper Hannes Halldorsson. Wayne Rooney converted the penalty, and 30,000 Icelanders inside Nice's Allianz Riviera felt like they had been snapped out of daydreams.

But two minutes later, Iceland hit right back with a beautifully worked set play off a throw-in.

With the goal as an announcement of intent, Iceland played without fear. Defenders and midfielders alike rebuffed England attack after England attack. The resilience was inspiring.

On 19 minutes, Joe Hart's resilience was anything but.

Seventy minutes remained, but England's meltdown commenced. Roy Hodgson's sacking seemed to be imminent. England bossed possession but not much else. "Brexit part two" jokes bombarded Twitter.

England's attack was ponderous all game. Harry Kane looked a shell of himself. Sturridge's influence waned as the game progressed. Rooney was mistake-prone playing in midfield.

England had its chances all the way up to the final whistle. Jamie Vardy nearly got on the end of a Sturridge cross in the final minute. On the resulting corner, a free header was fluffed.

At the final whistle, Iceland's squad ran as one to its fans in the corner of the stadium. Their rhythmic clapping routine reverberated not just throughout the stadium, but also throughout the soccer world.

This isn't Leicester City winning a Premier League title. This is its own giant-killing. Euro 2016 will always be remembered for Iceland. And you never know, the French could be next.

 

 

 

 

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