In Ice Age
lead for just 34 seconds before the knot in the pit of his stomach tightened again as the tumult inside the Allianz Riviera ratcheted up to another level.
What will have made the equaliser all the more galling was that it was everything England had been warned about, the main weapon in Iceland’s limited armoury coming to the fore.
Captain Aron Gunnarsson, of Cardiff, rolled out his long throw-in, Kari Arnason won the flick-on above Rooney and Ragnar Sigurdsson tapped home from four yards after giving Kyle Walker the slip. It was ridiculously sloppy, a mistake borne out of complacency, as England’s soft underbelly was exposed at the first sign of any pressure.
The second time it was prodded more mayhem ensued and Iceland’s fairy tale proceeded to treat itself to a new stunning chapter.
There was not a challenge in sight as Gylfi Sigurdsson found Jon Dadi Bodvarsson outside the penalty area and he swiftly transferred the ball to Kolbeinn Sigthorsson with Eric Dier ballwatching.
Still, there was no meaningful resistance, not least from Joe Hart who allowed the striker’s low shot to squirm through his hands. Hodgson stood stroking his chin, WHICH WAY TO THE AIRPORT? Hodgson and Neville try to work it all out assistant Ray Lewington bawled at the players to keep moving the ball, half chances came and went, Dele Alli coming closest with a rising volley.
As for the England supporters, they marked half-time with a chorus of boos.
There was little conviction in England’s attacking. Just what we had seen in the matches before at the tournament: little penetration and shots from distance.
Iceland’s defensive shell felt impregnable because of their rival’s inadequacies and Lars Lagerback’s side looked the likelier to score.
Hart’s blunder continued a poor personal tournament, but his save from Ragnar Sigurdsson’s overhead kick in the 55th minute after a set-piece had spread more panic in England’s backline felt crucial.
Jack Wilshere had replaced the out-of-sorts Dier at the interval and Jamie Vardy was introduced on the hour for Sterling, whose influence faded as quickly as it had appeared.
England offered nothing. Harry Kane smashed a 30-yard free-kick almost as far wide in a neat summation of his contribution to date and Rooney found playing in midfield harder going against the composed Gylfi Sigurdsson than against Russia and Wales.
The pot-shots continued to no avail. The sight of Iceland playing keep-ball at the end a fitting epitaph to what has been another wasted summer for England and their fans.