Consistency is key in major tournaments but Iceland were left frustrated by their second 1-1 draw of the Euros under the east Manchester sunshine. Karolina Lea Vilhjalmsdottir should have won the match late on against Italy but shot wide from close range with the goal gaping to give Italy hope of qualifying from the group.
Vilhjalmsdottir had opened the scoring but her goal was cancelled out by Valentina Bergamaschi as Italy collected their first points in England. Both sides will feel they should have won it but a lack of composure ensured a draw was the fair result.
After conceding five goals against France in their opening match, Italy’s defence looked nervous and it cost them in the third minute. Poor defending of set-pieces has been a theme throughout the tournament and Italy were the latest to pay the penalty when they failed to deal with Sveindis Jonsdottir’s throw-in which was struck into the top corner on the half volley by Vilhjalmsdottir from inside the area to the backdrop of an Icelandic roar.
An inability to deal with a corner soon after almost brought the second when pinball ensued after two defensive clearances went straight out rather than out but on this occasion Vilhjalmsdottir could not find the net, sending a shot wide on the spin.
Another poor piece of defensive play just after the hour mark should have resulted in a second when a free-kick from the right was allowed to trickle along the six-yard line to the feet of substitute Alexandra Johannsdottir but she failed to compose herself, despite being unmarked, and jabbed the ball wide.
It was an error Iceland were forced to pay for moments later when fine wing play on the left by Barbara Bonansea created panic at the opposite end for once and a roaming Bergamaschi found space 10 yards out and kept calm to sidefoot home for an equaliser.
The goal swung the momentum in Italy’s favour. The Icelandic thunder clap and drumming was deployed in the stands in an attempt to turn the tide back in favour of Iceland. The Italian turnaround was almost completed in the 72nd minute thanks to a rapid counter-attack which went from the edge of one box to the other in a blink of an eye. The ball found its way to Cristiana Girelli but despite her shot finding its way under Sandra Sigurdardottir she had to watch it bounce back off the base of the post. The crowd held its breath in the 86th minute when Sveindis Jonsdottir got the byline to pull the ball back for Vilhjalmsdottir in the centre of goal to miss when scoring seemed easier to cost her side two points, something Iceland could regret with France to come in their final group game.
July 14, 2022 at 11:54PM Will Unwin at the Academy Stadium