Euro Wrap: Debutants Iceland Stun England, Italy Knockout Spain
Defending champions Spain knocked out in the round of 16 on a night first-timers Iceland shock England
Iceland pulled off one of the biggest shocks in European Championship history when they stunned England 2-1 in their last-16 clash on Monday leading losing manager Roy Hodgson to resign.
Earlier in the night, Italy broke a 22-year hoodoo to end Spain’s bid for a record third successive European title with a deserved 2-0 win over familiar foes in an absorbing last 16 clash between the two heavyweights.
Iceland beat England 2-1
Anyone with no prior knowledge of the two teams’ history watching Monday’s game would have been hard-pressed to decide who were the former world champions and who were the tiny nation of 330,000 competing at their first major tournament.
After falling behind to a fourth-minute Wayne Rooney penalty, Iceland levelled almost immediately through Ragnar Sigurdsson and struck again in the 18th with a shot by Kolbeinn Sigthorsson. They then survived without great distress as England struggled to build any sustained pressure and barely tested goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson.
“This is probably going to be a day that we will talk about for the rest of our lives,” said Iceland joint-coach Heimir Hallgrimsson, who runs a dentist surgery in his spare time.
Iceland are the smallest country ever to appear in a major tournament and their reward is a quarter-final against hosts France in Paris on Sunday, with the prize for the winner being a semi-final against European heavyweights Germany or Italy.
England will be watching from home - again - after a defeat that extends their miserable run in the Euros where they have won one knockout match, on penalties at home to Spain in 1996.
David Cameron stepped down as British Prime Minister after the result of last week’s referendum that unsettled the country and the whole of Europe. England coach Roy Hodgson did the same after overseeing yet another humiliating campaign in a major tournament.
“Now is the time for someone else to oversee the progress of this young, hungry and extremely talented group of players,” Hodgson said. “They have been fantastic.”
Italy Knock Out Champions Spain
Italy triumphed with goals from Giorgio Chiellini and Graziano Pelle and will face Germany in the quarter-finals on Saturday in Bordeaux in another battle between a couple of powerhouses in European football.
The Italians, who had not won a competitive match against Spain since the 1994 World Cup and were humiliated 4-0 by their old rivals in the Euro 2012 final in Kiev, were the better side on a damp evening, especially in the first half.
Italy, better organised and more aggressive before the break, had wasted several chances when defender Chiellini put them ahead after 33 minutes, following up to tap in after goalkeeper David De Gea failed to block Eder’s free kick.
The Italians suffered in the second half and had been resisting sustained Spanish pressure when striker Pelle connected with a Matteo Darmian cross to volley home from close range, doubling their advantage in added time.
They were probably better. They don’t play great football but they are strong in the air, very physical and they were dangerous. We tried everything but we couldn’t score.Vicente del Bosque, Spain coach
Spain‘s defeat marked the end of an era for a side who had established themselves as the dominant force in Europe by winning the European Championship in 2008, after knocking out Italy in the quarter-finals, and repeated the success in 2012.
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