Rating the players: Iceland 0-1 England

Matt Stead

Football is stumbling home with all the awkwardness of a Harry Kane team talk. He was a bit rubbish. So were England as a whole.


Didn’t have a save to make, including from 12 yards. But celebrated that late penalty miss with all the determined and relieved conviction of Peter Schmeichel keeping his sheet clean against Newcastle in March 1996 after a heroic performance. Good on him.


All that good work undone with one moment of foolishness. Making that tackle in any circumstance was ill-advised but the spectre of his earlier yellow card made it plainly stupid. Before then he was better than most will give him credit for and one of the better outlets for England – although that says more about the team performance than his individually. Southgate will remember that red card over anything else Walker produced; that daunting gap to Trent Alexander-Arnold is right-back where it started.


Not bad at all. Not bad at all. Not bad at all. Mate why have you done that have you never seen professional football. Full-time. Gomez did well for large periods, erring only towards the start and right at the end of the second half. Whether the penalty was harsh or not is immaterial considering his positioning and reaction time created the problem to begin with. But his interceptions and range of confident passing from deep was impressive.


He was fine. Did a few passes, launched himself into a couple of headers with the sort of fury he tends to reserve for the stands after games against Norwich, and generally fulfilled the role of Gary Cahill by playing 90 whole earthly minutes without doing anything of actual note. Some will say that is a sign of a good defender. It might be as much to do with the opposition getting collective nosebleeds when crossing the halfway line.

No player had more shots, which sums up this match more than any other sentence could wish to.


Is not a left-back, so feels slightly cruel to judge him as such. His inclusion led to obvious limitations in terms of width and impetus and his tendency to drift centrally did not help. But Trippier’s cross for Ward-Prowse in the first half was excellent. It was just a shame he could not combine so well with Sterling and Foden. This was proof, if needed, that this experiment need only be brief.


One of the best England players defensively, even if that task was akin to a bully ruthlessly kicking a small child’s sandcastle as soon as the foundations had been laid. Also started a couple of moves with interceptions and tackles in Iceland’s half that his teammates contrived to waste, much like he himself did when Sancho squared to him after a quarter of an hour. They would have won 1-0 with or without him. Either play him as the only defensive midfielder in games against such reserved opponents or don’t play him at all.



Ah balls. Fell asleep. I remember back in about Year 9 we had a friendly during P.E at school, with selection in an upcoming game against our bitter rivals providing plenty of incentive. Towards the end of the match and with the scores level, I had ghosted in unmarked at the near post. The cross was perfect and my run was timed excellently but I skied it from about five yards out because I was and am shit at football. I was overlooked and my career fizzled out from there.

James Ward-Prowse has a slightly stronger relationship with Gareth Southgate than I did with my teacher so will likely get another call-up down the line. But he should have done so much better from Trippier’s cross towards the end of the first half. He was used out of position and earned shithouse points for scuffing up the penalty spot but shouldn’t be a part of the squad when everyone is fit.


Welcome to international football, and teammates who play for West Ham and Southampton where Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva used to be. Foden was fine enough, particularly in the opening 20 minutes, but struggled for the stasis of those ahead of him and the uninventiveness of those behind. No shots or chances created before his substitution is difficult to spin as anything more than average, even against the lowest of blocks. But he was pretty good with his longer passes, which is not his most obvious trait.


All foreplay and no penetration. The working title of my autobiography is by no means a finished article and it sometimes needs reminding that nor is Sancho. He still flits in and out of matches and that is to be expected but his end product and decision-making was uncharacteristically poor here. Can’t wait for Ed Woodward to leak something to his usual journalist friends about Sancho’s agents demanding too much and forcing United to walk away.


He completed as many dribbles (8) as the other 27 players combined, so that’s something. He also won and scored the winning penalty in perhaps the most lenient use of that phrase ever recorded. Sterling spoke after the game of how few training sessions he had actually had and while it showed, he at least got the basics right. That is more than can be said for a few of his peers.


Sorry, but he was bad. While unfortunate to have an early goal ruled out for offside, Kane was otherwise detrimental to the attack as opposed to pivotal. He seemed to drop for the ball less due to Foden’s presence, which impacted his link-up play and limited his effectiveness. The general inability to create that England encountered starved him of his other world-class ability – finishing – and his first touch was often abysmal. He probably awkwardly swore loads in the team talk at half-time, though.



DANNY INGS (on for Foden, 68)
Pics or it didn’t happen.


TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD (on for Sancho, 73)
His delivery was a bit rubbish. Has presumably just signed a contract with Hermes.


MASON GREENWOOD (on for Kane, 78)
Introduced with about 15 minutes left as the only Manchester United player on the pitch. Two penalties were awarded thereafter. Just saying.

Matt Stead