Iceland’s EURO Dreams Shattered Following 2-1 Loss to Ukraine

Icelandic fans at the World Cup in Russia in 2018

Iceland’s dream of a spot in the UEFA European Championship in Germany this summer was shattered in Wroclaw, Poland, last night. Iceland lost 2-1 to Ukraine, despite an admirable performance.

Tense atmosphere

The atmosphere in Wroclaw was considerably more tense compared to that of Budapest last Thursday, where Iceland secured their place in the playoffs final by beating Israel. Ukrainian supporters outnumbered those of Iceland in the stands.

Åge Hareide made three changes to yesterday’s squad since Thursday, with Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, Jón Dagur Þorsteinsson, and Andri Lucas Guðjohnsen entering the starting lineup. Both teams had decent opportunities in the opening minutes of the match, which were marked by some nervousness.

Iceland scored the opening goal of the match, with the team executing a clever passing sequence that ended with Albert Guðmundsson – who scored a hat-trick against Israel – received the ball at the edge of the penalty area. Dancing nimbly with the ball, he carved out space for a shot, with his left foot finding the bottom corner.

Almost ten minutes later, Ukraine managed to equalise. However, the goal was rightfully ruled offside. The score remained 1-0 at halftime.

Heartbreak in the second half

Ukraine started the second half brightly. In the first five minutes of the second half, they earned three corners, which the Icelandic defence managed to repel. As noted by Vísir, just as the Icelandic team seemed to be weathering the storm, Ukraine struck; Iceland launched a promising attack that fizzled out after a good run by Jón Dagur Þorsteinsson. The Ukrainians were quick to counter. Viktor Tsygankov found space on the right and placed the ball into the far corner, past goalkeeper Hákon Rafn Valdimarsson. 1-1.

As the second half wore on, Ukrainian pressure mounted, and the Icelandic team found themselves increasingly pinned back. Ukraine eventually found the winning goal, exploiting lapses in the weary Icelandic defence. Viktor Tsygankov found Mykhailo Mudryk with too much space in the penalty area, with the latter slotting the ball into the far corner.

The Icelandic team did everything they could to equalise following the goal, but Ukraine was savvy and slowed down the game effectively. Iceland launched one final attack in the dying moments of extra time, creating danger in Ukraine’s penalty area – to no avail. Ukraine secured a 2-1 victory, with fans and players alike celebrating the win passionately when the referee blew the final whistle.

It was a heartbreaking result in Wroclaw last night, especially given Iceland’s first-half lead. The dream of a place in the UEFA European Championship this summer has fizzled.