Iceland beat Albania 2-1 at a sold-out Laugardalsvöllur stadium, Reykjavík, last night. With two games remaining, Iceland is now in a pole position to reach second place in Group E, and a place in the playoffs in the qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup.
Also in Group E, Switzerland beat Norway in Oslo 2-0 and Slovenia won over Cyprus, in an away game which ended with the same score.
After eight games, Switzerland tops the group with 18 points, Iceland is second with 13 points, Slovenia has 12 points, Norway 11 points, Albania ten points and Cyprus comes last with four points.
As Iceland’s coach Lars Lagerbäck said after last night’s game: “It’s fantastic, a very good result. Now it’s in our own hands to reach second place.”
The game did not start well for Iceland with Valdet Rame scoring the first goal after just eight minutes, putting Albania in the lead 0-1.
However, Birkir Bjarnason was quick to equalize after a brilliant pass from Birkir Sævarsson, who was also involved in the second Icelandic goal, scored by Kolbeinn Sigþórsson two minutes after the break. It was Kolbeinn’s 11th goal for Iceland in 17 games.
Iceland played 4-4-2 and the starting XI was Hannes Þ. Halldórsson in goal, Birkir Sævarsson, Kári Árnason, Ragnar Sigurðsson and Ari Freyr Skúlasson in defense.
In the midfield Jóhann B. Guðmundsson, captain Aron Gunnarsson, Birkir Bjarnason and man of the match, Tottenham’s Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson. Upfront was Kolbeinn Sigþórsson and Eiður Smári Guðjohnsen.
Iceland’s two remaining games will take place next month, first against Slovenia in Reykjavík on October 11, and four days later against Norway in Oslo.
Páll Stefánsson/Iceland Review