Gylfi Sigurdsson pays the penalty with a 6 as Iceland's vikings are vanquished in Volgograd

Matt Jones 22/06/2018
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The vikings of Iceland felt the hammer come down on them in Volgograd as the euphoria of their opening 1-1 World Cup draw with Argentina was replaced by negativity following a 2-0 defeat to Nigeria.

Nigeria were second best in a first half dominated by the tiny European nation, but they were revitalised after the break and broke the deadlock when Leicester City forward Ahmed Musa thundered a ferocious effort into the roof of the net after Victor Moses had supplied a fine cross following a flowing counter-attack.

Musa later hit the bar before netting his second goal moments later after latching onto a long ball and utilising his pace, rounding goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson before stylishly sidefooting home.

Iceland’s talisman Gylfi Sigurdsson had the chance to get his side back into it but surprisingly skied his spot kick and that was that.

Here we rate the Iceland players.

ICELAND (4-4-2)

Hannes Halldorsson – 7:

After heroics in the opener against Argentina, would have been content with a quieter day. But still had to be bright to keep out Ndidi’s effort.

Birkir Saevarsson – 7:

A threat in attack, his crossing caused havoc in the Nigeria box as he looked to support at every opportunity. Musa caused havoc for him in defence though.

Kari Arnason – 5:

Won four aerial duels but had a tough time tracking Musa in the second period. Lack of pace exposed horribly by the quicksilver forward for his second.

Ragnar Sigurdsson – 6:

Injured after half-time but of course tried to carry on, eventually replaced though. How Iceland missed his leadership as Nigeria swarmed.

Hordur Magnusson – 7:

Carried on from where he left off excellently against Argentina. Had more freedom to roam forward here and gave Moses a testing afternoon.

Rurik Gislason – 6:

High with his shot after a fine run through Nigeria’s midfield as Iceland fought back. Not surprising perhaps that he doesn’t have an international goal in three years.

Aron Gunnarsson – 6:

Anchored midfield brilliantly and showed off a delectable array of passing, nice to see that he can play a bit of football as well as take throw-ins.

Gylfi Sigurdsson – 6:

Sublime delivery as always, teammates should have taken advantage in the first half. You would have had him taking a penalty if your life was on the line, but miss means Iceland’s knockout chances are now on life support.

Birkir Bjarnason – 7:

A constant attacking outlet down the left for his side, full of industry and ingenuity. His 90 per cent pass success led Iceland’s starters.

Jon Bodvarsson – 6:

Brought in as an extra attacker alongside Finnbogason and worked tirelessly to pull the Nigeria defence out of position. Won four aerial battles.

Alfred Finnbogason – 5:

Lively and in the thick of the action as Iceland dominated the opening 45 minutes, but looked isolated and faded badly in the second half.

SUBS:

Sverrir Ingason – 6:

Eventually replaced the banged up Ragnar Sigurdsson but could do little to prevent his side falling 2-0 behind.

Bjorn Sigurdarson – 6:

Replaced the hard-working Bodvarsson as Iceland desperately looked for a way back in.

Ari Skulason N/A

Thrown on with minutes to go, with the game already lost.

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Brilliant Ahmed Musa sparks Nigeria to 2-0 win to leave Iceland's World Cup hopes hanging by a thread

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Ahmed Musa's brilliant two-goal performance led Nigeria to victory.

Nigeria stunned Iceland in the second group stage fixture for both sides on Friday, with a brilliant Ahmed Musa scoring twice to lead the Super Eagles to a 2-0 victory.

Iceland, finding themselves in the rare position of being the favoured side at an international tournament, couldn’t handle the pace of Musa and his attacking colleagues, while Nigeria’s midfield and defence nullified their opposition’s attacking threat.

Everton star Gylfi Sigurdsson missed a late penalty that could have sparked a comeback, or at the very least mitigated the damage to Iceland’s goal difference.

The result leaves Nigeria on three points, ahead of Iceland and Argentina who have one point apiece, with Iceland ahead only on goal difference. Current group leaders Croatia have six points and have already qualified for the knockout stages.

Iceland will face Croatia on the final matchday of the group, while Nigeria will play Argentina knowing a win will seal qualification.

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England set to take on Panama in David vs Goliath clash at World Cup

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England and Panama face off on Sunday.

England face World Cup debutants Panama on Sunday in a David-versus-Goliath clash.

Here, we compare the two nations ahead of their meeting in Nizhny Novgorod.

POPULATION

The estimated population of England is 55,268,067, according to the Office for National Statistics, which makes it one of the 30 most populated countries in the world. In terms of nations at the World Cup, only nine have greater populations.

In contrast, Panama is home to just over four million people, which the United Nations estimates is fewer than Ireland and only marginally more than Moldova and Georgia. Uruguay and Iceland are the only two less populated nations competing in Russia this summer.

Panama are well-represented in the World Cup stadiums despite their small population.

Panama are well-represented in the World Cup stadiums despite their small population.

PLAYER SALARIES

Several players in Panama’s squad ply their trade in Major League Soccer, where players’ salaries are published. Seattle Sounders defender Roman Torres, who scored the qualifying-clinching goal that booked his nation’s place in Russia, is paid $645,000 (£485,620) in total annual compensation. Michael Murillo, selected at full-back in Panama’s first game, makes only $88,754 (£66,823) per year with New York Red Bulls.

In contrast, England captain Harry Kane‘s new deal with Tottenham is rumoured to be worth £200,000 a week – around three times as much as Murillo makes in a year.

Kane's salary dwarfs that of Michael Murillo and his teammates.

Kane’s salary dwarfs that of Michael Murillo and his teammates.

DOMESTIC LEAGUES

Liga Panamena Futbol has 10 clubs and three of Panama’s 23-man squad at the World Cup play their football in their domestic league. Independiente won their first league title last season and their striker Jose Fajardo, who scored 19 times but is not in Russia, recently trained with MLS side Dallas.

In contrast, England’s Premier League is viewed as one of the world’s most premier divisions. Anibal Godoy, likely to line up in midfield against the Three Lions on Sunday, told Press Association Sport that “every Panama player watches the Premier League every week”.

Panama's players love watching Premier League football.

Panama’s players love watching Premier League football.

SQUADS

In terms of average age, Panama have one of the oldest squads in Russia and they lean heavily on their experienced players. Blas Perez is expected to once more lead the line at the age of 37, though Jose Luis Rodriguez, who has just turned 20, could be included again having impressed on his debut against Northern Ireland in the build up to this tournament.

Even their manager Hernan Dario Gomez is managing at his third World Cup. In contrast, England boss Gareth Southgate has selected a relatively green group in terms of international experience.

Panama manager Hernan Gomez has a more experienced side to call upon.

Panama manager Hernan Gomez has a more experienced side to call upon.

FAMOUS SPORTING FIGURES

Football may viewed as the major sport in Panama this summer, yet they are more renowned for the three Bs – baseball, boxing and basketball. Mariano Rivera was a 13-time All Star with Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees, boxer Roberto Duran won world titles at four different weight classes and Panama City-born Rolando Blackman made such an impact with the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks his number 22 jersey is retired. Irving Saladino is the only Panamanian to ever win an Olympic gold when he claimed the long jump title in Beijing in 2008.

England, meanwhile, has a wealth of world champions, Olympic gold medallists and, over half a century ago, even a World Cup-winning football team in its history.

Mariano Rivera is arguably Panama's best-known sports star.

Mariano Rivera is arguably Panama’s best-known sports star.

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