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Iceland end Germany's title defence

Iceland 4-1 Germany
Germany's title defence came to a grinding halt in Hafnarfjordur as Eyjölfur Sverrisson's free-scoring Iceland side recorded a memorable victory.

Iceland celebrate their victory against Germany
Iceland celebrate their victory against Germany ©Getty Images

Germany's defence of their UEFA European Under-21 Championship title is over after Rainer Adrion's side crashed to a 4-1 defeat away to Iceland in Group 5.

The holders came into the match knowing they could only realistically clinch a play-off berth as one of the four best runners-up and that hope was dashed by an exciting Iceland side who have now scored a tournament-leading 28 goals in seven qualifiers.

Birkir Bjarnason put the hosts ahead after only five minutes, and though Kevin Grosskreutz drew Germany level four minutes after the restart, Iceland quickly responded with two goals in the space of a minute from Gylfi Thor Sigurdsson (53) and Kolbeinn Sigthórsson (54). Substitute Alfred Finnbogason hit the fourth six minutes from time to complete a memorable night for Eyjölfur Sverrisson's side; one Germany will want to forget.

The Czech Republic lead the section with a perfect 18 points from six games following their 5-0 rout of San Marino on Wednesday, with Iceland two points behind in second having played a game more. Germany are third on eight points from six games and can no longer catch either.

Germany knew what to expect after being held to a 2-2 draw against Iceland in their previous qualifier on 2 March, but they were soon chasing the game when Bjarnason turned in Sigurdsson's cross. The holders dominated possession thereafter but with Iceland goalkeeper Haraldur Björnsson on form, the visiting side had to wait until four minutes into the second half before drawing level through Grosskreutz's close-range effort.

Iceland, though, were soon back in front and a pair of goals in quick succession ended Germany's hold on the trophy they won 14 months ago with a 4-0 victory against England. Sigurdsson restored the home side's advantage with a delightful free-kick from the edge of the area in the 53rd minute before Sigthorsson burst onto a long ball out of defence and lobbed the advancing Tobias Sippel for the third.

Germany's misery was complete when substitute Finnbogason capitalised on a mix-up in their defence and rounded Sippel before shooting into the empty net. Iceland finish their Group 5 campaign away to the Czech Republic on 7 September, with Germany first in line to meet the group leaders four days earlier.

"Iceland showed a disciplined defensive performance," Adrion said. "We expected them to play long balls forward, but unfortunately made too many mistakes in defence and our offensive game was poor. Of course it's a disapointment we failed to qualify for the EURO."