England loses to Iceland in its last friendly before Euro 2024, hosts Germany beats Greece

AP , Saturday 8 Jun 2024

England was booed by some of its own fans after losing 1-0 to Iceland on Friday in its last friendly before the European Championship, while host nation Germany recovered from a goal down to beat Greece 2-1.

England players react after losing to Iceland (AP)

Jón Dagur Thorsteinsson left defender John Stones standing as he scored for Iceland in the 16th minute to bring back memories of one of England’s lowest points of recent years, its 2-1 elimination by Iceland at Euro 2016.

England created few clear-cut chances against Iceland and nearly conceded a second goal when a promising Icelandic counterattack ended with Thorsteinsson slipping as he shot.

“We learned a lot and we know the performance wasn’t good enough,” England manager Gareth Southgate told broadcaster Channel 4. “Equally we needed the game; there’s a lot of players that we’re managing their minutes and it was obviously a disjointed and disappointing performance and we didn’t show enough character.”

England, which beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-0 on Monday, gets its tournament under way June 16 against Serbia in Group C.

Germany needed substitute Pascal Gross’ 89th-minute goal to secure the win over Greece a week before it opens Euro 2024 against Scotland in Munich.

Georgios Masouras gave Greece the lead in the 34th on the rebound after goalkeeper Manuel Neuer failed to hold a shot from Christos Tzolis. Arsenal forward Kai Havertz leveled in the 56th when he shot on the turn and it went in off Manolis Siopis.

After Benjamin Henrichs sent a shot off the bar in the 83rd, Germany finally took the lead when Gross hit a fierce shot from outside the box.

With a flat first-half performance and a late recovery, the win over Greece continues a mixed bag of form for Germany, which beat France and the Netherlands in friendlies in March but has also lost to Japan, Turkey and Austria within the last 12 months.

Neuer’s error for the Greece goal came shortly after Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann confirmed he was cutting Stuttgart goalkeeper Alexander Nübel as he finalized the 26-player squad for the tournament. Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Hoffenheim’s Oliver Baumann are the two other goalkeepers in the squad.

Nagelsmann committed in March to having Neuer as his first-choice goalkeeper for Euro 2024, even though injuries meant the Bayern Munich goalkeeper only played his first game under Nagelsmann for Germany in Monday’s 0-0 draw with Ukraine.

Also Friday, Poland beat neighbor Ukraine 3-1 with three goals in the opening 30 minutes and Scotland drew 2-2 with Finland after giving up a 2-0 lead.

Romania failed to beat one of Europe’s smallest nations, Liechtenstein, in a 0-0 draw. The Czech Republic cruised to a 7-1 win over Malta. Albania beat Azerbaijan 3-1.

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