Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 28th 2016 Contents A44
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, June 28, 2016
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NICE---Iceland pulled off the biggest
shocks in European Championship
history by beating England 2--1 in the
round of 16 on yesterday, continuing
the astonishing run of the smallest
nation at the tournament.
England slumped to its most embar-
rassing loss in a generation after taking
the lead in the fourth minute through
Wayne Rooney s penalty.
Ragnar Sigurdsson and Kolbeinn
Sigthorsson took advantage of defensive
shortcomings by England to put Iceland
ahead by the 18th minute, and the Ice-
landers defended superbly in the second
half to earn the biggest victory in their
The country of 330,000---featuring
in its first ever major tournament---
next plays host nation France in Saint-
Denis on Sunday, while England heads
home early again for another post-
tournament inquest. England s players
slumped to the ground after the final
whistle, their heads in their hands.
For a soccer nation of England s
standing, its record in major tourna-
ments is woeful. The English have still
never won a knockout-stage game
abroad in the European Championship
in eight attempts and haven t won a
match beyond the group stage of a
major tournament since 2006.
This defeat will probably go down
as England s most humiliating since
losing 1--0 to the United States in 1950
Even more so since its team of Pre-
mier League stars took the lead on a
balmy night at the Stade de Nice after
Raheem Sterling---a contentious pick
by Hodgson on the left wing---was
clipped by goalkeeper Hannes Hall-
dorsson as he prodded the ball past
him. Rooney converted the penalty into
the bottom-left corner.
Iceland struck back immediately
through Sigurdsson, volleying in at the
far post after Kari Arnason s flick-on
from a long throw. Sigthorsson then
took advantage of more slack defending
by England, getting time and space to
shoot from just inside the area. Goal-
keeper Joe Hart got a hand to the effort
but the ball squirmed in.
Iceland was relatively untroubled in
the second half as England s passing
and touch deserted its players, with
Rooney especially culpable.
Following the loss, coach Roy Hodg-
son resigned, saying England needed
a new coach.
Hodgson s four-year contract was
due to expire at the end of the tour-
nament, which has ended in the round
of 16 after losing to Iceland.
Hodgson said "I would have loved
to stay on another two years, however
I m pragmatic and know that we re in
the results business."
He added his contract "was always
up after the Euros, so now is the time
for someone else to oversee the progress
of this young, hungry and extremely
talented group of players. They have
been fantastic and they have done
everything that has been asked of
the World Cup and now at the
European Championship, Spain
coach Vicente Del Bosque
believes his team can soon reign
The evidence of Spain s 2--0
loss yesterday to slick, hard-
working Italy in the round of 16
told a different story.
"No, I don t think an era is
finished," said Del Bosque, who
became coach after the two-time
defending champion s first trophy
win in 2008.
"Spanish football has a great
"We have the style of football
to keep going for many years and
achieve many things," the 65-
year-old coach said through a
An aura that faded with Spain s
early exit from the 2014 World
Cup was further tarnished at
Days after losing 2--1 to an
injury-hit Croatia side, Spain
slumped to back-to-back defeats
just like two years ago. Then, it
was routed 5--1 by the Nether-
lands and outplayed 2--0 by Chile
in the Maracana Stadium in Rio
There were similarities to that
Chilean defeat at Stade de France,
where Italy gave a lesson in sharp
passing and smart tactics.
"We were a bit timid in the
first half, without a lot of con-
fidence, without a lot of deter-
mination," Del Bosque acknowl-
edged, though adding: "You can t
doubt our good intentions.
"Sometimes the opponent is
better, but it s not because we
have played without enough
hunger," he said.
Critics could point to the fact
Del Bosque, coaching Spain for
the 113rd time, picked the same
starting lineup for the fourth
straight match here---one that
featured four veterans with more
than 100 international appear-
Del Bosque s loyalty to some
players, while leaving young tal-
ents on the bench, was a fault at
the World Cup.
Still, he was proved right here
by picking goalkeeper David De
Gea, who made his 13th appear-
ance on Monday, over the 167-
times capped Iker Casillas, a cap-
tain in the trophy-winning years.
De Gea made three high-qual-
ity saves in the first half, and
another in the second to limit
the score at 1--0 from defender
Giorgio Chiellini s 33rd-minute
poacher s strike in the goal-
Italy got the result it deserved
in second-half stoppage time
when Graziano Pelle was
unmarked to shoot emphatically
past De Gea.
Del Bosque insists era not over for Spain
England coach Roy Hodgson
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