Iceland 0, England 1 – UEFA Nations League
Kyle Walker was sent off as England needed an injury time penalty by Raheem Sterling in Reykjavik to beat Iceland in the UEFA Nations League.Embed from Getty Images
It was a game of two penalties in a game of few chances as England, who had not had a shot on target since the 28th minute of a turgid affair, had to wait till the 91st minute to take the lead through Sterling’s penalty.
Amazingly, Iceland then earned their own spot kick a minute later but agonisingly missed the chance to equalise at the last gasp with ex-Aston Villa player Birkir Bjarnason blazing over even deeper into injury time.
Things had seemed set to go from bad to worse after Kyle Walker was sent off for a second booking after 70 minutes and the lack of VAR check over a disallowed Harry Kane goal in the 6th minute seemed set to cost England before the injury time drama that earned the some small measure of revenge for the Euro 2016 defeat.
Only four players had remained from England’s humbling in Euro 2016 against Iceland – Eric Dier, Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling, and Harry Kane – but the new crop of players found it equally as hard to break down their hosts.
Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden, 20, was handed his first senior England cap against Iceland and became the 31st player that England boss Gareth Southgate handed a debut to.
The 32nd was Mason Greenwood, who came on late in a game which for long periods looked like a glorified pre-season friendly, especially in the empty setting of the Laugardalsvollur Stadium in Reykjavik.
Kieran Trippier started at left back – a problem position since Gareth Southgate had picked no recognised left backs in his squad with Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw out injured.
Iceland frustrate England until injury time
England predictably had the majority of the ball and started strongly against the deep lying Iceland side who showed little ambition.
Harry Kane started early with a shot from wide that was collected and was flagged offside after tapping the ball in at the back post from Raheem Sterling’s cross after 6 minutes.
The England captain looked onside but the Icelanders were let off because VAR was not in operation for this game.
Walker’s deflected shot went into the side netting while Declan Rice mishit a pull back by Jadon Sancho.
The rest of the first half was neat and tidy by England who had dominated 81% of possession but lacked the extra zip to take the lead after the early disappointment.
Iceland only threatened from set pieces, and they had chances either side of the break with no luck – and finished the game with 1 shot on goal – and that was not on target.
Trippier’s free kick was headed past his own post by Kari Arnason as England continued to toil – having not registered a shot on target past the 28th minute.
Danny Ings made his first appearance for England since October 2015 when he came on for Foden after 68 minutes – a gap of 1790 days between caps.
But there was a blow to England’s chance of winning when Kyle Walker was sent off after 70 minutes for a second bookable offence, sliding in on Arnor Traustason, and immediately given his marching orders by the referee.
Walker, whose last England cap before today was in June 2019 against Switzerland, was guilty of being overenthusiastic in his attempt to win back the ball deep in Iceland’s half.
James Ward-Prowse had to drop back to right back briefly until Trent Alexander-Arnold was brought on for Jadon Sancho three minutes later.
Mason Greenwood made his senior England bow for a tiring Harry Kane with 12 minutes to go.
Raheem Sterling’s 89th minute shot was deemed to have been handled in the box by Sverrir Ingason who was booked and then also sent off for a second yellow card.
Sterling stepped up and coolly rolled the spot kick down the middle in injury time with Hannes Halldorsson diving to his left.
But the drama was not over as Joe Gomez was penalised for a sloppy foul after colliding with Albert Gudmundsson in the area.
Ex-Aston Villa player Birkir Bjarnason stepped up but blazed his effort over the bar with Pickford well beaten as the game came to a dramatic end.
GOALS – Iceland 0, England 1
Iceland 0, England 1: 90+1. Raheem Sterling coolly rolled the ball down the middle to beat Hanne Halldorsson after a handball call against Sverrir Ingasson.
MATCH STATS – Iceland 0, England 1
Iceland: Halldorsson, Hermansson, Ingason, Arnason, Magnusson, Traustason (Hallfredsson 76), Bjarnason, Palsson, Thorsteinsson (Sigurdsson 66), Gudmundsson, Bodvarsson (Fridjonsson 90+1)
Iceland Subs not used: Kristinsson, Runarsson, Fjoluson, Eyjolfsson, Fridjonsson, Anderson, Baldursson, AF Skulason
Booked: Ingason 42 (foul on Harry Kane)
Sent Off: Ingasson 89 (second yellow card for handball in the area)
England: Pickford, Walker, Gomez, Dier, Trippier, Rice, Sancho (Alexander-Arnold 73), Ward-Prowse, Foden (Ings 68), Sterling, Kane (Greenwood 78)
England Subs not used: Pope, Henderson, Mings, Keane, Grealish, Mount, Maitland-Niles, Coady, Phillips, Ings, Greenwood
Booked: Walker 33 (foul on Albert Gudmundsson); Gomez 90+2 (foul on Johan Berg Gudmundsson)
Sent off: Walker 70 (second bookable offence on Arnor Invi Traustason)
Goal: Sterling pen 90+1
Referee: Srdjan Jovanovic