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Published 10 May 2021 4 min read

Match Centre: Iceland 0-1 England: UEFA Nations League

Written by:

The FA

  • S. Ingason (42′)
  • S. Ingason (89′)
  • B. Bjarnason (93′ MISSED PEN)
UEFA Nations League League A
Saturday 05 September, 05:00 PM Laugardalsvöllur
0 1
HT: 0 - 0
  • R. Sterling (91′PEN)
  • K. Walker (33′)
  • K. Walker (70′)
  • J. Gomez (92′)

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Raheem Sterling’s late penalty and Birkir Bjarnason’s even later miss from the spot gave England victory in a helter-skelter finale to their UEFA Nations League opener against Iceland.

Kyle Walker was sent off for the Three Lions on what was developing into a frustrating evening in Reykjavík, only for Sterling’s late strike, and then Bjarnason’s skied effort, to salvage three points.

The visitors enjoyed the bulk of possession but were unable to penetrate a resolute Iceland defence for much of the contest, until Sverrir Ingi Ingason conceded a penalty - and received his second yellow - in the 89th minute and Sterling confidently placed the ball down the middle.

But when Joe Gomez tangled with an Iceland player at the other end it looked as though England’s persistence would count for nothing, only for former Aston Villa man Bjarnason to fluff his lines and send the Three Lions home with victory.

Southgate’s men bossed the opening exchanges and were unfortunate not to go ahead on six minutes, as Harry Kane’s strike at the far post was chalked off for offside.

A chance for England against Iceland

There was no VAR in operation in Reykjavík and replays showed the captain was marginally onside, as Sterling’s pinpoint cross and England’s early possession were unable to get the reward they deserved.

Jadon Sancho was a continual menace down the right as the Three Lions grew into the contest, and Declan Rice missed a golden opportunity after Sterling and Phil Foden - who was making his Three Lions debut - also combined.

The sides went in with the scores level at the break and the second half developed into similar pattern as the first, as England enjoyed sustained possession but were unable to find a breakthrough.

Southgate’s side went close on 64 minutes after a dangerous free-kick from Kieran Trippier was almost diverted into his own net by an Icelandic head.

Danny Ings was added from the bench to bolster England’s firepower but just two minutes later came Walker’s dismissal, as the England right-back received his second yellow card for a sliding tackle on Arnór Ingvi Traustason.

Kyle Walker is shown a red card against Iceland

Walker’s dismissal did little to distort the pattern of the game and 20 minutes later came the penalty decision for England, as the ball fell to Sterling from a corner and Ingason was given his second yellow for handling the ball.

With the usual penalty taker Kane being substituted, Manchester City forward Sterling deputised in style, by coolly passing the ball down the middle to hand England just reward for their hard work.

However, the game had a further twist in store, as Gomez conceded a penalty straight down the other but Bjarnason was unable to emulate Sterling’s composure from the spot, blazing his effort over to ensure Southgate’s side opened their Group 2 account with a win.

England: 1 Jordan Pickford (Everton), 2 Kyle Walker (Manchester City), 3 Kieran Tripper (Atlético Madrid), 4 Declan Rice (West Ham United), 5 Joe Gomez (Liverpool), 6 Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), 7 Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), 8 James Ward-Prowse (Southampton), 9 Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), 10 Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), 11 Phil Foden (Manchester City)

Substitutes: 21 Danny Ings (Southampton) for Foden 68, 12 Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) for Sancho 73, 23 Mason Greenwood (Manchester United) for Kane 78

Substitutes not used: 
13 Nick Pope (Burnley), 14 Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), 15 Michael Keane (Everton), 16 Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), 17 Mason Mount (Chelsea), 18 Ashley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal), 19 Conor Coady (Wolves), 20 Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United), 22 Dean Henderson (Manchester United)