England got off to a winning start in the Nations League on Saturday, scraping past Iceland with a 1-0 victory in Reykjavík.
The Three Lions never got going in a dull affair and were handed a lifeline in the dying minutes when Ingi Ingason was adjudged to have blocked Raheem Sterling’s effort with his arm. Sterling converted the penalty himself, but the points were then put back into doubt when Joe Gomez dragged an Iceland forward to the ground and conceded a spot-kick of his own.
Fortunately for the Liverpool star, Birkir Bjarnason fluffed his lines and sent his effort high over the crossbar and England saw out the final seconds to claim a narrow 1-0 win.
Let’s have a look at the ratings on a dull afternoon in Reykjavík.
1. Goalkeeper & Defenders
Hannes Halldorsson (GK) – 7/10 – Came up with the big saves when required and marshalled his defence very well. Far from an easy game to manage, but Halldorsson was vital to Iceland’s stubborn rearguard.
Hjörtur Hermannsson (RB) – 7/10 – Never easy coming up against Sancho or Sterling, but Hermannsson stuck to his task and did a cracking job. Put in some crucial tackles and last-gasp blocks.
Kári Arnason (CB) – 7/10 – A proper centre back’s display. Marking Kane is no walk in the park, but Arnason kept the forward as quiet as possible.
Ingi Ingason (CB) – 7/10 – Another proper centre back’s display. Headed everything, blocked all of England’s efforts – but to his detriment. Sent off very harshly for handball late on, conceding a penalty. Hard to take.
Jón Dagur Thorsteinsson (RM) – 5/10 – Offered very little to the Iceland attack and struggled to get into the game. Substituted as the game went on.
Victor Palsson (CM) – 7/10 – Battled brilliantly in the centre of the park, keeping England at arm’s length and leaving everything out on the pitch. A strong display.
Birkir Bjarnason (CM) – 5/10 – Missed a last-minute penalty which could have secured a point. Summed up his game, really.
Arnór Traustason (LM) – 6/10 – Didn’t have the attacking quality to trouble England, but did his best to unsettle the Three Lions and was never shy of effort.
Dadi Bödvarsson (ST) – 6/10 – It must be no fun being a striker with so little ammunition, but Bödvarsson did his dirty work manfully. The forward battled, fought and scrapped for every ball and hassled the England defence.
Jóhann Berg Gudmundsson (ST) – 6/10 – Worked just as hard as his partner and dropped deeper to offer support to his toiling teammates. A tough defeat to take in the end.
Arnor Sigurdsson (CM) – 5/10
Emil Hallfredsson (CM) – 5/10
Aron Fridjonsson (ST) – N/A
5. Goalkeeper & Defenders
Jordan Pickford (GK) – 6/10 – Not tested during the first half and played his part when building out from the back. A very quiet and steady return to action.
Kyle Walker (RB) – 5/10 – Picked up a yellow card for a push in the first half after being caught out of position. Then received his marching orders for a rash challenge with 20 minutes to play. Daft.
Eric Dier (CB) – 7/10 – Like Gomez, Dier had very little to do, but he did it well regardless. Commanding in the air and solid on the ground, a respectable performance from the Tottenham star.
Kieran Trippier (LB) – 6/10 – Playing out of position on the left side of defence, Trippier had a solid if not spectacular game. Attempted to join the attacks, but starting on his weaker foot proved to be an obstacle.
James Ward-Prowse (CM) – 6/10 – Looked out of place and out of sorts at times. Never quite left his imprint on the match, but was not the worst on the pitch by a long way.
Declan Rice (CM) – 6/10 – Offered his usual industry and artistry on the ball, as he kept the game moving with some calm passing. Once again, didn’t offer enough to seriously affect the game.
Phil Foden (CM) – 5/10 – Was responsible for connecting the midfield with the forwards and injecting some pace and rhythm to the performance. In that aspect, Foden failed to make his mark. First to be substituted.
Jadon Sancho (RW) – 5/10 – Looked lively in the first half, but struggled to break behind his marker as Iceland sank deeper and deeper.
Harry Kane (ST) – 6/10 – Had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside early on, having shown good instinct to slide in at the far post. Did his usual best to link play whenever possible.
Raheem Sterling (LW) – 7/10 – By far the best of the three attacking stars, causing plenty of problems for his full back. Slotted home the penalty which clinched the three points.
Danny Ings (ST) – 6/10
Trent Alexander-Arnold (LB) – 6/10
Mason Greenwood (ST) N/A