Despite taking an early lead through skipper Wayne Rooney’s penalty, two quick-fire goals from Lars Lagerback’s side turned the game in Iceland’s favour to send them into a quarter final tie with hosts France.
And it means England return home early, much to the disappointment of the thousands of fans who provided magnificent support on France's south coast, despite the setback and despair on the pitch.
England 1-2 Iceland
UEFA Euro 2016
Round of 16
Monday 27 June 2016
Stade de Nice, France
It had all started so well for Roy Hodgson’s men too, as Raheem Sterling got in behind the Iceland defence to latch onto Daniel Sturridge’s pass into the box, only to be bundled over by goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson for a clear penalty in the fourth minute.
Rooney made no mistake from the spot, shooting low and hard into the bottom corner to give his side just the start they were looking for but that was as good as it got for England.
The lead lasted less than two minutes, as England were caught out when Aron Gunnarsson launched his well-rehearsed long throw into the area. It was flicked on by the head of Kari Arnason for Ragnar Sigurdsson to turn home from close range with the Three Lions’ defence left flat-footed.
England didn’t let that setback cause a stutter though, as they were quickly back on the front foot with Spurs duo Dele Alli and Harry Kane flashing attempts narrowly off target.
But there was another setback for England as they slipped behind in the 19th minute when a neat move from Iceland ended with Kolbeinn Sigthorsson hitting a lot shot at goal, which Joe Hart couldn’t quite grasp and saw the ball slip past him and roll into the bottom corner.
Again, England tried to rally and Kane saw a well-struck volley from another Sturridge pass turned over by Halldorsson before the same player delivered a free-kick into the area where Chris Smalling guided a header over.
Iceland went in at the break with their lead in-tact and England left frustrated, knowing they had 45 minutes to rescue their Euro campaign despite their domination of the ball.
But it took a fine reaction save from Hart to keep Iceland’s tally at two, as he blocked Sigurdsson’s close-range overhead kick to keep England in with a chance as Hodgson’s side kept attacking.
The manager turned to Jamie Vardy on the hour mark, with the Leicester City forward replacing Sterling but even the Premier League winner couldn’t breach the Iceland backline as the clock ran out.
The game ended with England throwing everything at Iceland, but Halldorsson remained untested as the Three Lions were left floored to reflect on what could have been.
England: 1 Joe Hart (Manchester City); 2 Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur), 5 Gary Cahill (Chelsea), 6 Chris Smalling (Manchester United), 3 Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur); 20 Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), 17 Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), 10 Wayne Rooney (capt; Manchester United); 7 Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), 9 Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), 15 Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool).
Substitutes: 18 Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) for Dier 46, 11 Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) for Sterling 60, 22 Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) for Rooney 87.
Substitutes not used: 4 James Milner (Liverpool), 8 Adam Lallana (Liverpool), 12 Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), 13 Fraser Forster (Southampton), 14 Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), 16 John Stones (Everton), 19 Ross Barkley (Everton), 21 Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), 23 Tom Heaton (Burnley)
Head coach: Roy Hodgson
Goals: Wayne Rooney 4 (pen)
Cautions: Daniel Sturridge 47
Iceland: 1 Hannes Halldorsson; 2 Birkir Saevarsson, 6 Ragnar Sigurdsson, 7 Johann Gudnundsson, 8 Birkir Bjarnason, 9 Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, 10 Gylfi Sigurdsson, 14 Kari Arnason, 15 Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, 17 Aron Gunnarson (capt), 23 Ari Skulason.
Substitutes: 18 Elmar Bjarnason for Bodvarsson 77, 21 Arnor Ingvi Traustason for Bodvarsson 89
Substitutes not used: 3 Haukur Heidar Hauksson, 4 Hjortur Hermannson, 5 Sverrir Ingason, 11 Alfred Finnbogason, 12 Ogmundur Kristinsson, 13 Ingvar Jonsson, 16 Runar Mar Sigurjonsson, 19 Hordur Magnusson, 20 Emil Hallfredsson, 22 Eidur Gudjohnsen.
Head coach: Lars Lagerback
Goals: Ragnar Sigurdsson 6, Kolbeinn Sigthorsson 18
Cautions: Gylfi Sigurdsson 88
Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)