Iceland had been looking under the gun in the second half as a rejuvenated Nigeria surged forward time and again, building up a 2-0 lead. The gritty performance to come from behind against Lionel Messi’s Argentina was all but forgotten until Alfreð Finnbogason surged forward with just seven minutes left and was tripped up to win a late penalty.
All day long Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson had shown off his wand of a right foot, delivering setpieces with unerring accuracy and zesty fizz into the box, but his teammates kept wasting the chances. And now he stepped up to take the penalty looking to halve the deficit and give his countrymen hope.
Alas, we all know what happened next as his shot fizzed up and over the bar with the goalie well-beaten, and the match was lost. Nigerian counterpart William Troost-Ekong came up to give him a hug, understanding his misery while goalie Francis Uzoho screamed at his Icelandic rivals.
What a miss by Gylfi Sigurdsson!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 22, 2018
The Icelandic no. 10 skies his penalty to keep Nigeria up 2-0. pic.twitter.com/1xNrgJNwSh
After the game, Sigurdsson spoke to Goal.com about his disappointment -
“It’s tough to take. It’s probably the toughest moment of my career. Hopefully I can put it right and score in the next game.
”It was a game of two halves. We were good in the first half and very organised defensively. I don’t think they had any shots in the first half. We created numerous chances in the first half that we probably should have scored from.
”In the second half we were unlike ourselves. We were very open, especially after the first goal and we had to go and get something out of the game. Overall it’s very disappointing.
”We were impatient in trying to win the game instead of letting it happen naturally. We’re very disappointed because we felt after the first half the game was there for the taking.
”We’re just going to have to get something out of the next game to get through.”
Iceland’s fate lies in others’ hands at this point, sitting in third place as they are.