Euro’s tournament dark horse, Italy played a must-win game but was held to a stalemate by an inexperienced Icelandic side in their second game in Group D.

Aside from their mauling against the French the Italian side has been on a reasonable run of form, only losing once in their past five games, with Iceland matching their opponent’s form stride for stride.

Le Azzurre manager Milena Bertolini made five changes after their 5-1 loss to France with defender Lucia Di Guglielmo replacing Elisa Bartoli, Flaminia Simonetti and Martina Rosucci moving into the midfield and forwards Martina Piemonte and Valentina Giacinti starting the game.

But Iceland’s long throw by Sveindís Jane Jónsdóttir in the box undid Italy in just the 2nd minute with Karólína Lea Vilhjálmsdóttir’s strike putting the underdogs ahead unexpectedly.

Le Azzurre were the favourites to win this encounter considering they haven’t lost in the five times they have played Iceland, although their friendlies before the tournament in Italy 1-0 and 1-1 show how close these two sides actually are.

Despite going behind very early in the game Italy had 66 per cent of the ball possession and Iceland touched it 34 per cent of the time. The Italians also created the most chances with 21 shots on goal compared to Iceland’s 10.

Captain Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir’s shot towards goal in the 6th minute almost led to another Icelandic goal after Italy failed to properly deal with a set piece.

During the pre-match press conference for the Iceland fixture, Italian players called the massive loss to tournament favourites, France a “debacle”, “disaster” and “first half blackout” while Iceland manager Jón Þór Hauksson promised that his team won’t give the Italians any time on the ball.

Italian head coach Milena Bertolini said in his pre-match press conference that the team was ready to show that result had strengthened their resolve and they were a different team. Whether they achieved that against Iceland is debatable.

Both teams created goal scoring chances but missed them with Jane Jónsdóttir blasting the ball near the post in the 22nd minute and Italy’s tournament’s only goal scorer Martina Piemonte missing another that could’ve levelled them in the 24th minute.


The Icelandic side exploited Le Azzurre’s defensive weakness to long throw-ins throughout the game.

Italy had all the possession in their enemy’s territory but rarely troubled Sandra Sigurðardóttir in the Icelandic goal in the first half.

As the game progressed to the second half, Italy was starting to see the writing on the wall and to stop the rot, they brought on two forward players, Barbara Bonansea for midfielder Arianna Caruso and Cristiana Girelli replaced Piemonte in the 50th minute.

Iceland substitute midfielder Alexandra Jóhannsdóttir spurned a golden opportunity in the 60th minute to extend their lead to two, which she regretted seconds later, from another un-cleared set piece by the Italians.

Le Azzurre caught Iceland sleeping on the job and quickly countered with Bonansea’s impressive run leading to Valentina Bergamaschi’s goal in the 61st minute making it 1-1.

Both teams made a raft of changes in the second half in both hope and desperation to cancel out the other by winning the game and technically packing the other’s bags to the airport and being sent home with immediate effect.

After equalising, Italy was on the ascendancy and laid siege to the opposition’s goal with Sigurðardóttir reaching Bonansea’s shot with her fingertips and then hitting the post before being cleared out in the 72nd minute.

Another chance fell to a player who was impressive during the game having been left out of the starting 11 in the first game. Midfielder Simonetti’s shot went inches wide of the target in the 73rd minute.

Bonansea became a problem to the Icelandic defence that was protecting their soon-to-be-gained point and started playing keep away by kicking the ball far away from their box as possible.

In the closing minutes, Iceland’s limited opportunity towards the Italian goal fell to scorer Lea Vilhjálmsdóttir, but the youngster only managed to scuff the shot wide.

All roads in Group D led to the final group stage games for all three nations of Italy, Iceland and Belgium still in with a chance to qualify from the group, with already qualified France waiting for other teams in different groups to face them.

Image: screenshot from Optus Sports.