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Euro 2016 produced two big upsets in the round of 16, as Italy defeated European champions Spain, while Iceland recorded a famous win over England.
Italy headed into their last-16 clash with European champions Spain as underdogs, but pulled-off a 2-0 win over La Roja. Italy were the first to show any attacking threat on eight minutes, as David de Gea saved a powerful header from Southampton forward Graziano Pelle.
The Azzurri were on control of the early exchanges with Emanuele Giaccherini hitting the post, only to for the officials to rule the Sunderland had produced a high boot. Despite the Italian domination early on Spain had an opportunity to take the lead on 20 minutes.
Nolito found Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas on the edge of the Italy area and the midfielder fired a low effort towards goal, only for Giorgio Chiellini to block the shot. Italy reasserted themselves, as Marco Parolo missed the target from a Mattia De Sciglio cross.
De Sciglio was again involved on 26 minutes, as another cross was sliced just wide of his own goal by Spanish defender Sergio Ramos.
Italy did take the lead on 33 minutes. De Gea was called into action once again to keep out a well-hit free-kick from Eder, but Emanuele Giaccherini was first to the rebound and poked the ball to Chiellini who could not miss from close-range.
Just before half-time De Gea produced a fantastic save to keep out Giaccherini and the European champions went in at the break just one goal down.
La Roja had a superb chance to equalise earlier in the second half, as Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata headed an effort straight at Gianluigi Buffon in the Italy goal. Italy came close to doubling their lead on 56 minutes though, as De Gea produced a good save from Eder, following a good touch from Pelle.
Spain then searched desperately for an equaliser with substitute Aritz Aduriz firing wide of goal. Veteran Italian ‘keeper Buffon produced two food saves to keep out long-distance effort from Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique.
As the game approached stoppage-time Buffon pulled-off his best save of the game. Barcelona defender centre-back Gerard Pique struck a volley towards goal and Buffon produced a superb stop to keep the effort out.
Italy wrapped up their place in the last eight in stoppage-time. The Azzurri hit Spain on the counter-attack and Pelle was there from a couple yards out to score his second goal of the tournament.
The Azzurri now face a quarter-final clash with Germany on Saturday in Bordeaux, as Antonio Conte’s underrated side look to topple another European giant at Euro 2016.
The other game of the day produced one of the biggest shocks in the recent history of the competition, as minnows Iceland defeated England 2-1 in Nice.
England starter the brighter of the two teams and were awarded a penalty kick on four minutes. Winger Raheem Sterling was found with a ball over the top of the defence and Icelandic ‘keeper Halldorsson came out and up-ended the Manchester City man.
England captain Wayne Rooney stepped-up and made no mistake from the spot to give the Three Lions the perfect start. The lead did not last long though, as the Nordic side were back on level terms on six minutes.
Aron Gunnarsson’s long throw was flicked on by defender Kari Arnason and Ragnar Sigurdsson was there to prod home from close-range. Iceland were in front on 18 minutes.
A good team move lead to the ball falling to Kolbeinn Sigthorsson on the edge of the area and the Nantes striker hit a rather tame effort towards goal, but somehow it squirmed under the hands of Joe Hart.
England continued to dominate the game without creating many clear-cut chances. Halldorsson saved a Harry Kane effort and Chris Smalling headed over the bar at the far post.
Roy Hodgson attempted to change things with the introduction of Jack Wilshere and Jamie Vardy in the second half. However, it was Iceland that came closest to finding the net, as Hart did well to deny Ragnar Sigurdsson a second goal from a bicycle-kick from close-range.
England midfielder Dele Alli fired over the bar from 12 yards, as Hodgson’s side desperately search for a way back into the game. On 79 minutes Kane headed straight at Halldorsson after a superb cross from Jack Wilshere.
Iceland came close to adding a third as Gunnarsson ran through on-goal, but his effort on goal was kept by Hart. Vardy came close to levelling the scores in stoppage-time, only for Arnason to divert the striker’s header just wide of goal.
Iceland were never overly worried and held on to secure a famous win and a place in meeting with hosts France in the quarter-finals on Sunday in Paris.
England exit the Euro 2016 Championships in what can only be describes as an abysmal performance against minnows of the tournament, Iceland.
England 1 – Iceland 2
Iceland, the smallest team in the tournament, and now giant killers, turned up the heat and put pre-match favourites England on ice with a detailed game both in attach and defence.
After only 3 minutes and with England piling on the pressure, Goalkeeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson comes too far out the box and concedes a penalty. Wayne Rooney' takes it and nets his 53rd goal for England putting them into the lead early on in the game, silencing the Icelandic fans.
However it only took a further two minutes for Ragnar Sigurdsson to equalise from a throw-in set piece, opening up the game and making the English defence show its first signs of weakness. Hodgson raging on the sidelines as the Iceland fans burst back and raise the decibels.
It was the 18th minute that saw the third and last goal of this thriller as Kilbeinn Sigthorsson taps a low shot past Hart who gets a hand to the ball but fails to keep it out. Again the England defence showing holes and the Icelandic players are keen to capitalise.
From there on in, both teams had chances to score with opportunities missed at both ends of the pitch but in the end the Icelandic defending kept out any hint, and there weren't many, of an England breakthrough.
The last few minutes were nail biting as England pushed as hard as they could with a technically inept team, lacking experience, to try and clamber another goal but it wasn't to be. With some English fans chanting, “you're not fit to wear the shirt,” it's clear what they thought of their teams lack of footballing skills on the pitch tonight.
A terrible English football performance against an Icelandic team who are living the dream and it's Iceland against France in the quarter-finals. Congratulations to Iceland.
Shortly after the match Hodgson, gave a statement to the waiting media acknowledging the English teams poor performance in France and knowing that he was in line for a sacking, fell onto his sword and resigned as Manager of England after 4 years.
As part of his resignation speech and after thanking the coaching team, players and fans, Hodgson said, “I am sorry it will have to end this way but these things happen. I hope you will still be able to see an England team in a final of a major tournament soon.”
Day 16 of Euro 2016 sees the second lot of last-16 ties being played, with hosts France facing Republic of Ireland in the early kick-off.
The hosts were unbeaten in the group stages, but needed late goals against both Romania and Albania to confirm wins. A draw against Switzerland confirmed Les Bleus as group winners and put them through to this tie.
Ireland are likely to be another team that will defend deep and restrict the space for France, although boss Martin O’Neill has revealed that he plans for his team to attack the hosts and not sit back like some of Les Bleus previous opposition.
France are likely to once again look to West Ham star Dimitri Payet for creativity and imagination. The former-Marseille player has scored twice on home soil and is likely to be a key player once again for Didier Deschamps team.
France heads into this clash as big favourites and Les Bleus are five games unbeaten against the Emerald Isles.
Ireland made it through to the knockout stages by finishing third in their group, drawing with Sweden and beating Italy in their final group game to set up this difficult last-16 clash with France.
Martin O’Neill’s side will be major underdogs heading into this clash, but the Irish have a tendency to enjoy being the underdog and could well frustrate the host nation for long periods.
Attention then moves to the second last-16 tie in Lille between world champions Germany and Slovakia.
Germany topped their group as expected with wins over Ukraine and Northern Ireland, while also drawing with Poland. Die Mannschaft have yet to concede, despite apparent worries over their full-backs.
Joachim Low’s side will be highly confident of winning this clash and the world champions look to be just getting warmed-up in France.
Slovakia made it through to the knockout stages by finishing third in Group B behind England and group winners Wales. Jan Kozak’s side defeated Russia 2-1 and then drew with England in their final game to confirm a place in the knockout stages.
In Napoli playmaker Marek Hamsik Slovakia have a player capable of creating and scoring goals, even if he has not yet quite hit top form in France. Slovakia may be underdogs, but they will be buoyed by the fact that they recorded a 3-1 win over Germany, although the world champions did field an experimental team in that clash.
The last game of the day is in Toulouse were surprise package Hungary faces Belgium.
Hungary managed to top Group F, despite the presence of more illustrious teams Portugal and Austria. Bernd Storck’s team recorded a win over Austria, before drawing with Iceland and Portugal in their last group game.
Hungary are underdogs to make the quarter-finals, but they will not mind that as the odds were against them in qualifying and the group stages as well.
Belgium finished second in their group having won games against the Republic of Ireland and Sweden and will fancy their chances of progression, especially as the Red Devils have won eight of the previous meetings against Hungary.
Highly-rated striker Romelu Lukaku will be looking to add to his tally of two goals in France and help his team to the last-8.
Euro 2016 day 17 last-16 review and preview
The first game of the day saw France defeat ten man Republic of Ireland 2-1 in Lyon to make it through to the quarter-finals of the competition. Ireland headed into this contest as major underdogs, but were handed an early boost, as they were awarded a penalty kick after just two minutes.
Shane Long was brought down by Paul Pogba and Robbie Brady’s low penalty found the net off the post and gave Martin O’Neill’s side the perfect start. Ireland held on to the lead until 57th minute. Bacary Sagna swung in a cross from the right and Antoine Griezmann powered a header past Darren Randolph.
The Atletico Madrid striker scored his brace four minutes later. Olivier Giroud won an aerial challenge with the two Irish centre-backs and Griezmann latched onto the ball and slotted past Randolph.
Ireland’s chances of getting back into the game diminished on 66 minutes as defender Shane Duffy brought Griezmann down when the striker was in on-goal for his hat-trick.
Ireland never really threatened Les Bleus goal and France substitute Andre Pierre-Gignac smashed an effort against the bar. France will now play the winner of the England v Iceland game next Sunday in the quarter-finals.
World champions Germany made light work of Slovakia in their last-16 clash, winning 3-0 in Lille.
Die Mannschaft took the lead after just eight minutes. The ball fell to defender Jerome Boateng on the edge of area and the Bayern Munich star volleyed powerfully into the bottom corner of the net via a deflection.
Germany had a chance to double their lead on 13 minutes from the penalty spot, but Mesut Ozil stepped-up and saw Slovakian ‘keeper Kozacik produce a very good save. Joachim Low’s team doubled their lead two minutes before the break.
Julian Draxler did well down the wing and found Mario Gomez at the near post who flicked the ball home from a few yards out. Germany made it three on 63 minutes. Mats Hummels header a set-piece to back post and Draxler produced a superb volley from close-range.
Die Mannschaft will now face the winner of Spain v Italy in Bordeaux in the quarter-finals on 2nd July.
Belgium produced a commanding 4-0 win over Hungary in a highly entertaining last-16 clash in Toulouse. The Red Devils took the lead on ten minutes, as centre-back Toby Alderweireld headed home from a pinpoint free-kick from Manchester City playmaker Kevin de Bruyne.
Belgium continued to dominate the game, but only doubled their lead on 78 minutes. Young Marseille striker Michy Batshuayi scored within seconds of replacing Romelu Lukaku. Eden Hazard produced a superb cross for the youngster to slot home from a few yards out.
It took just another minute for Marc Wilmots’ team to make it three. Hazard cut in from the left took on two defenders and from the edge of the area and curled home a fantastic effort past Gabor Kiraly in the Hungary goal.
The Red Devils scored a fourth in stoppage-time, hitting Hungary on the counter-attack. Radja Nainggolan played Atletico Madrid winger Yannick Carrasco in on goal, he advanced on goal and fired past Kiraly at the near post.
It was a highly-impressive display Wilmots’ side, who now face Wales in the quarter-finals on Friday in Lille.