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Southgate says shock loss to Iceland will focus mind for England ahead of 2024 Euros

Gareth Southgate says England’s shock 1-0 loss to Iceland will focus the mind going into the 2024 Euros.

England Iceland

A well worked goal from Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson was the difference at Wembley as England’s likely starting back four for the upcoming tournament were undone.

England fans booed at the full-time whistle and will hope the team can perform better in their Euro campaign starting June 16 against Serbia.

Southgate said: “We haven’t had the full group together and on the pitch at any one point but it does focus the mind and any complacency that talent is going to get us this trophy and that we only have to stroll in.

“Football is not like that, you’ve got to be spot on in every aspect of the game to win any game at this level.”

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John Stones raised heart-rates when he went down, and stayed down, early on and was then replaced at half-time by Ezri Konsa.

Reassuring to England fans, Southgate said: “John we decided no point taking any chances as he’s a very important player to us and we’re very close to the tournament.”

However, with Luke Shaw yet to return to fitness and Harry Maguire dropped from the squad nursing a calf injury, Southgate said: “We can’t hide the fact that we have got a lot of physical issues, that’s plain for everyone to see.”

The Manchester City defender’s knock perhaps excuses how he got turned inside-out for the Iceland goal.

It was a superbly worked move by Iceland who played out from the back until Mikeal Anderson received the ball on the half turn in a three versus two scenario.

Anderson picked out Thorsteinsson to his left, who cut in and smashed the ball inside the near post through John Stones’ legs.

Southgate said: “When we let the goal in, I thought we lost a bit of confidence and composure.

“We have to accept that when you’re in an England shirt, they’re the moments as a group that we’ve got to react in the right way.”

Iceland’s playing out from the back almost cost them though, when Declan Rice pressured the Iceland keeper who cleared poorly into the path of Cole Palmer.

Palmer, inside the box, struck one goal bound but Daniel Gretarsson bailed his keeper out blocking the shot.

The Chelsea winger was a bright-spark for England and created the team’s best chance on the half hour mark as he lofted the ball into Harry Kane who skied the volley from only a few yards out.

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It was not as if Iceland’s goal was a stroke of fortune, more chances followed for the 72nd world-ranked nation including one Marc Guehi blocked towards the end of the first half and a tap-in skewed by Thorsteinsson in the second.

Anthony Gordon also looked bright at points, before being replaced by Bukayo Saka in the 64th minute, using his pace regularly to get in behind and cut from the by-line but his end product lacked on the day.

Trent Alexander-Arnold also came on in 64th as part of a quadruple change and injected some life into the England performance.

The right-backstroke midfielder will be raising the question of whether he has to start for the Three Lions, following on from his man of the match performance against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

It must be noted there was no Jude Bellingham. The La Liga player of the year will join the squad later after winning the Champions League and will be a key part of the side.

Nevertheless in a game that was meant to be a momentum builder and pleasurable send off, it resulted in Southgate’s England taking their first loss in a last game before a tournament. Will it be a forecast for what’s to come or just a wake up call?


  • Eduardo Tansley

    Trying to tell stories he would want to read, whether that's Dominican football or British basketball, Eduardo has interviewed sports people from CEOs to athletes on the rise. @tansleyeduardo