Euros roundup: Iceland stuns England, Italy ousts Spain
Nice, France — Gary Cahill was lying face down on the field in disbelief. Dele Alli was squatting on the turf with his head in his hands. It was utter humiliation for England.
First-time finalist Iceland embarrassed the stars of the Premier League on Monday, dumping them out of the European Championship in the round of 16.
And the man who presided over yet another night of English ignominy immediately quit.
Roy Hodgson’s four-year contract was due to expire after Euro 2016 but he accepted immediately after the 2-1 loss to Iceland that there was no way he could stay in the job.
“I would have loved to stay on another two years. However, I’m pragmatic and know that we’re in the results business,” Hodgson said.
“My 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.”
Those players will probably now have this mortifying night in Nice to contend with for the rest of their careers.
The final score read 2-1 but, in the heat of the French Riviera, England melted away against Iceland, lacking creativity and technically deficient.
Harry Kane, the Premier League’s top scorer last season, leaves France without a single goal. Wayne Rooney, England’s all-time leading scorer, failed to find the net from open play in four games — but converted his team’s fourth-minute penalty on Monday.
The scale of Iceland’s achievement, as the smallest country to ever qualify for a major tournament, is incredible.
Without any professional clubs in their domestic league and with a population of only 330,000, the Icelanders managed to upset the country which hosts the world richest and most popular soccer competition and where 1.8 million people play the game every week.
There will be much head-scratching among baffled English soccer leaders, though they have been through similar inquests before after heavy blows to national pride.
In the last decade, the English didn’t even qualify for Euro 2008 and they have also missed out on trips to World Cups. They made a group stage exit from the 2014 World Cup.
Hodgson was allowed to stay in charge despite England failing to win a single game two years ago in Brazil.
The English Football Association may now be regretting that decision.
Qualification for Euro 2016 was secured with a clean sweep of 10 wins, with the tournament expected to see the fruits of his four years in charge flourish, with a vibrant young team.
Instead, the squad Hodgson brought to France was found to be desperately lacking in width and ideas.
It flies home with only one win in the group stage, against Wales, and the country is still waiting for its first knockout stage victory at a tournament since the 2006 World Cup.
“I’m sorry it’s had to end this way with another exit from the tournament, but these things happen and all I can do is wish everybody the very best and hope that you will still be able to see an England team in the final of a major tournament fairly soon,” Hodgson said.
England has won only one major tournament - the 1966 World Cup, on home soil. The country will host the final three games of Euro 2020 at Wembley Stadium, though it’s unclear who will be in charge of the national team by then. There are no obvious candidates to succeed Hodgson.
“Like the nation, we are disappointed to lose this evening and that our run in Euro 2016 has come to a premature end,” the FA said in a statement. “We had high hopes of progressing through to the latter stages of the competition and accept that we have not met our own expectations or those of the country.
“We back Roy Hodgson’s decision to step down as England manager and will discuss next steps imminently.”
Italy 2, Spain 0: At Saint-Denis, Spain’s era of dominance at the European Championship came to an end when Italy beat the two-time defending champion.
Italy deserved its victory and was impressive from the start, dominating in all areas of the field and creating several scoring opportunities.
Goals in either half were enough for Italy to avoid its third straight elimination at the European Championship to Spain and secure a quarterfinal clash against another old foe, Germany.
Giorgio Chiellini put his team ahead in the 33rd minute, when he poked the ball across the line after Spain goalkeeper David de Gea couldn’t hold on to a free kick by Eder.
Graziano Pelle sealed the victory — Italy’s first competitive triumph over Spain since the 1994 World Cup — with his second goal of the tournament after a cross by Matteo Darmian in second-half injury time.
It was Italy’s first win over Spain at the European Championship since it was defeated, 4-0, in the 2012 final.
Poland 1, Switzerland 1 (Poland advances 5-4 on PKs)
Portugal 1, Croatia 0 (OT)
Wales 1, Northern Ireland 0
Belgium 4, Hungary 0
France 2, Ireland 1
Germany 3, Slovakia 0
Iceland 2, England 1
Italy 2, Spain 0
Poland vs. Portugal, 3 p.m.
Wales vs. Belgium, 3 p.m.
Germany vs. Italy, 3 p.m.
France vs. Iceland, 3 p.m.