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Iceland 0-1 England: Sterling on the spot with late winner

Raheem Sterling's last-gasp penalty gave the visitors victory in Reykjavik.

Highlights: Iceland 0-1 England

England left it late to claim three points in their UEFA Nations League campaign opener with penalty drama at both ends in the final seconds.

Iceland vs England: as it happened

Match in brief

England celebrate their goal
England celebrate their goalAFP via Getty Images

There was an added-time penalty at either end in an eventful finish in Reykjavik. Raheem Sterling's 91st-minute spot kick clinched England's victory in the opening game of their UEFA Nations League campaign although Iceland's Birkir Bjarnason had the opportunity to level two minutes later when Hólmbert Friðjónsson was brought down by Joe Gomez, only for the substitute to lash over the crossbar.

Despite England's dominance in possession throughout the game, the tie remained goalless deep into the second half as the Three Lions struggled to find a chink in Iceland's armour. Both sides were reduced to ten men, Kyle Walker seeing red in the 71st minute followed by Sverrir Ingason's 89th-minute dismissal for the handball which led to Sterling's penalty winner.

Reporters' views

Birkir Bjarnason rues missing his late penalty
Birkir Bjarnason rues missing his late penaltyGetty Images

Andri Yrkill Valsson, Iceland reporter: After a scrappy start, Iceland were able to withstand England's threat until the final seconds. Without creating any real chances, Iceland will be disappointed not to have taken more advantage of set-piece opportunities and missing a penalty at the death will be heartbreaking. They can, however, be pleased with their overall defensive performance, underlining that even though key players were missing, their team spirit was very much present.

Simon Hart, England reporter: England snatched victory through Sterling's spot kick at the end of an often frustrating contest. After Kane's early disallowed goal, Declan Rice missed a clear chance from Jadon Sancho's low cross yet, despite dominating possession, England ran out of ideas and energy in the second period before the late drama unfolded in their favour. Sterling's 13th international goal was certainly lucky for his team but at this very early stage of the season, when players are short on match-sharpness, a win's a win.


Raheem Sterling enjoys converting from the spot
Raheem Sterling enjoys converting from the spotGetty Images

Erik Hamrén, Iceland coach: "I've been a coach over 40 years and this feels like one of the worst defeats. We knew we had to be good defending, we knew we were playing a good team and we knew we had to be really good together. And we did. Tactically we did. We didn't create so much in offence, but I have to say, they didn't either."

Kári Árnason, Iceland captain: "They didn't create much and that's what we wanted. It was difficult when Kyle Walker got sent off. You'd like to see the team pushing a bit further forward but after about 70 minutes of defending, we didn't have much in the tank."

Gareth Southgate, England manager: "The players were in the areas we asked them to be – we had probably the most creative players in English football on the pitch but everybody has to understand that players, whether they've had a two-week break or they're into their pre-season period, that sharpness in the final third is going to be the last bit to come so against a really stubborn, packed defence it's a difficult challenge."

England reaction: Sterling on win against Iceland

Raheem Sterling, England forward: "It was a tough one, I thought we dug deep – even with the red card we kept going and kept playing our football. You couldn't really tell that they had 11 men. We kept possession got our chance at the end and got a bit of luck at the end as well."

Jordan Pickford, England goalkeeper: "They're very tough to play, they haven't lost many games at their home ground. We just had to show resilience and keep being patient. The manager's words were, 'be patient, keep breaking them down and we'll get an opportunity'."

Key stats

  • England have only failed to score in one of their last 14 matches.
  • England have won 11 of their last 14 games (L2).
  • Iceland are still looking for their first ever points in the UEFA Nations League.
  • Raheem Sterling has scored 11 goals in his last 12 games for England.
  • Kyle Walker's red card was England's first since Sterling was sent off in a friendly against Ecuador in June 2014.


Iceland: Halldórsson; Magnússon, Árnason, Ingason, Hermannsson; Traustason (Hallfredsson 77), Bjarnason, Pálsson, Þorsteinsson (Sigurdsson 67); Guðmundsson, Bödvarsson (Fridjonsson 90)

England: Pickford; Trippier, Dier, Rice, Gomez, Walker; Foden (Ings 69), Ward-Prowse, Sancho (Alexander-Arnold 74); Kane (Greenwood 79), Sterling

Next up

Both teams are in action again on Tuesday, when England travel to Denmark and Iceland visit Belgium.