Sigurdsson helps Iceland to first World Cup Finals

Monday, 9 October, 2017 67comments  |  Jump to most recent
Iceland have qualified for the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia thanks to a 2-0 win over Kosovo but there was heartbreak for Wales and joy for Everton's duo Irish in Cardiff.

With Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy sidelined, Everton's playing representatives on the night, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Ashley Williams, had contrasting fortunes.

Sigurdsson set Iceland on their way to their second successive major tournament finals when he scored their first goal. Burnley's Berg Gudmundsson added another in the second half to book passage to Russia as the smallest nation by population to ever do so.

Williams, however, was at fault for the goal that saw Ireland secure a chance of qualifying via the playoffs when he was dispossessed in a dangerous area and James McLean scored the winner.

Wales needed at least a draw to finish in the playoff spot but it's Coleman's and McCarthy's hopes of playing in the World Cup that live on.  

Reader Comments (67)

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Peter Gorman
1 Posted 09/10/2017 at 22:31:59
Ashley Williams is an unfortunate donkey. Watching his clumsy lunges last season was bad enough; now he has developed a penchant for gifting possession to on-rushing attackers.

I personally thought he'd be solid coming off the back of a good season in the Premier League and with Wales but oh God I was wrong. To add to that, he has no leadership presence at all. An unremitting oaf of a man.

John Audsley
2 Posted 09/10/2017 at 23:10:34
Peter Gorman

Harsh but very, very true.

Jags back for the weekend and Williams on the bench. We should only play him if we get an injury.

He has been very poor and his leadership skills have evaporated. A real shame for us and for him.

Des Farren
3 Posted 09/10/2017 at 23:14:50
The slowness of movement and lack of awareness from Williams was there tonight for all to see. He effectively lost the game for Wales although the Irish seemed well aware of his deficiencies and knew how to profit from them.
Seamus McCrudden
4 Posted 09/10/2017 at 23:19:12
His confidence looks completely shot. Have you noticed he does this pulling his jersey above his nose thing that looks like he wants to hide when things go wrong? Could do with being taken out of the team for a while.
Jay Harris
5 Posted 09/10/2017 at 23:37:23
So we turn a celebration of Sigurdsson taking Iceland to the World Cup into an Ashley Williams bashfest.

Personally I think Ashley Williams has been playing great for Wales – he was just unlucky with the rebound which looked suspiciously out of play for me.

Anyway, well done, Siggy and Iceland.

Mike Keating
6 Posted 09/10/2017 at 23:58:51
We paid big money and top dollar wages for these two dolts and they have both underachieved.

Just glad I have no interest in the international bollocks apart from wishing Koeman didn't get a break and pleased for Coleman that the Republic got through.

Jim Jennings
7 Posted 10/10/2017 at 00:12:03
Jay (#5),

Williams was "unlucky with the rebound"?

Christ. Hendrick was all over him like a fly on shite because he knew the guy has a mistake in him every time he is under any sort of pressure with the ball at his feet.

Congrats to Sigurdsson and Iceland. Fantastic achievement. Here's hoping Seamie, McCarthy and former blue Shane Duffy join him at the World Cup.

Paul Holmes
8 Posted 10/10/2017 at 00:17:38
Ashley Williams's strength is that he is a stopper; he had Lukaku in his pocket in the Euros semi-final against Belgium and was playing great against Lukaku at Old Trafford until he gave the ball away to Fellaini which caused the goal.

He is not a ball-player like John Stones who has silky skills but can't defend. You have to play to his strengths which is not passing the ball about at the back.

Stick him on a man-marking job against most attackers and they will not score; leave the passing to Keane or Funes Mori (when he returns). Williams is similar to Dave Watson, would you keep passing to Dave Watson to play out from the back??

Brian Porter
9 Posted 10/10/2017 at 00:19:26
Congratulations to Gylfi and Iceland, but oh dear, Ashley Williams does it again, effectively costing Wales their place in the World Cup.

He really is nothing more than an accident waiting to happen now. His confidence is shot and Ireland were targeting him all night, knowing he was the weak link in the Welsh defence.

He needs dropping and shouldn't play for the first team again until he is back to something like normal. He is a long way away from that at present.

David Barks
10 Posted 10/10/2017 at 00:23:44
Iceland have no problem putting Gilfy in his natural position and continue to be rewards with goals and wins. Wonder if Koeman has ever watched one of his matches. Honest question, since Koeman seems to think he’s a winger.
Eddie Dunn
11 Posted 10/10/2017 at 00:31:40
Williams was without Collins alongside him. He needs a tall, commanding partner. He is a good player, but his form is poor, and Wales, like Everton ,have few options but to play him.

As others have said, he needs a spell on the sidelines to sort his game out. I wonder if our manager imparts much of his own wisdom to Ash?

Ireland, Northern Ireland (if they get through the play-offs) and England will fail dismally in Russia. Wales played a blinder in France but, in reality, the Home Nations stink.

James Stewart
12 Posted 10/10/2017 at 02:55:43
Not rocket science: play Sigurdsson in his natural position, surround him with runners, Vlasic, Lookman etc and reap the rewards.
Derek Knox
13 Posted 10/10/2017 at 03:04:35
I agree Eddie, I always admired Ashley Williams when he was both playing for Swansea and Wales, before we bought him,; I remember Wenger was after him too. He was never a spectacular player, but the model of consistency.

A lot of the fans have been saying waste of money on Siggy too, then he plays for Iceland, and scores. There is a common factor here: no Koeman.

I have said all the way along that Koeman has the reverse Midas touch with players, he gets them to come to Everton, by virtue of his reputation as a player; people assume that transcends to management – well it clearly does not, in his case specifically.

What I am trying to say, basically these players don't suddenly become second rate overnight!

Neil Cremin
14 Posted 10/10/2017 at 06:58:23
I feel sorry for Williams, confidence is shot and needs to get space to build it back up, not read some of the disgraceful comments here.

Unfortunately we do not have a manager who is a confidence builder. Whatever you say about O'Neill, he got a very average set of players playing well above the sum of its parts. Not pretty but wins. Koeman should take note.

John G Davies
15 Posted 10/10/2017 at 07:01:41
You're very much wrong there, Neil.

You should be enjoying the fact that an Everton player, captain of his country, has been knocked out of the World Cup.

Steve Solomon
16 Posted 10/10/2017 at 07:39:34
Agree with James@12.

Surround him with runners.

Vlasic, Lookman, Mirallas, Calvert-Lewin, Niasse. We have the players.

Liam Reilly
17 Posted 10/10/2017 at 08:51:56
Williams looked like he came back to preseason very unfit and his legs look to have gone.

That said, with confidence and when fit, he can do a solid job at the back, but Koeman needs to take him out of the firing line up allow him to rebuild his confidence.

Sigurdsson must be played in his best position and that means no Rooney or Klaassen .

Ray Smith
18 Posted 10/10/2017 at 09:08:35
I think Williams needs some time out. However, all the stick he's getting for last night's blunder came about when Hennessy sold him short.

I don't hear anyone knocking Hennessy for the awful throw to Williams in the first place.

Kim Vivian
19 Posted 10/10/2017 at 09:18:36
Ray - see my post number 9 on the Jagielka thread from last night.
Andy Crooks
20 Posted 10/10/2017 at 09:19:57
I thought that Shane Duffy had a good game last night.
Phil Walling
21 Posted 10/10/2017 at 09:21:58
Williams or Shane Duffy. Who would you rather see in blue?
Brian Hennessy
22 Posted 10/10/2017 at 09:29:47
Phil, it was sickening as a blue to watch the contrast in performances last night between Duffy and Williams.

I always rated Shane and he was superb against Wales, while Williams always looks like he can get caught in possession or give the ball away in a dangerous area just like he did last night

Brian Hennessy
23 Posted 10/10/2017 at 09:32:27
Ray (#18), I take your point about the throw from Hennessy which was poor. But Williams was incredibly slow to react after he gave the ball away and most definitely didn't do enough to stop Hendrick crossing the ball which led to the goal.
Sam Hoare
24 Posted 10/10/2017 at 09:34:23
I see Vlasic got two very nice goals for the Croatia U21s as well. There is some talent in the squad but it is being woefully mismanaged currently.
Dave Bowen
25 Posted 10/10/2017 at 09:44:26
Williams & Schneiderlin both played well last season. Now that Koeman has had time to work his 'magic' on them, they're both shadows of the players they were.

Williams is unfortunate in that every mistake he makes seems to result in a goal. That being said, Hennessey should never have thrown the ball to him with 2 players on him. As soon as he was closed down, you knew a goal was coming.

Ray Smith
26 Posted 10/10/2017 at 09:53:14
Kim 19

Well said sir.

Lee Brownlie
27 Posted 10/10/2017 at 10:08:44
Paul Holmes (#8)... Good point(s) well made, regarding Ashley Williams!

Not exactly a class 'footballing' defender, but then not the wayward donkey too many seem to want to paint him as lately. Confidence understandably near shot, though... but, then which Everton player's isn't after such an uninspiringly managed start?

Jim Knightley
28 Posted 10/10/2017 at 10:15:59
Sigurdsson hasn't been here long enough to underachieve – play him in the right position and he will do very well.

Williams on the other hand has lost it. His head has gone. He is scared – he doesn't want the ball. He is afraid to tackle. He reminds me of Chambers after Wenger played him at right back when he wasn't ready. Montero destroyed him at the liberty and it took him over a year to recover from it. Every time he played he was clearly scared. A similar thing happened to Eboue, but it was less pronounced – a negative Arsenal crowd do not help.

It is odd that it has happened to Williams, at his age. He is on the decline no doubt, but his issue is a mental one. We should take him out of the firing line for a while, when injuries permit. Play Keane and Holgate in a 2 or Jags in 3. Ultimately, we need another centre-back.

Liam Reilly
29 Posted 10/10/2017 at 11:14:30
Speaking of World Cup qualifying – see a sprightly Tim Cahill has just scored for Australia against Syria.

How we could do with a younger version as a talisman in this current side.

Liam Reilly
30 Posted 10/10/2017 at 12:26:33
Super Tim on the double now to oust Syria.


Ernie Baywood
31 Posted 10/10/2017 at 12:49:31
Australia are a great example of a team not playing to it's strengths. Trying to play possession football... they create plenty of chances but don't have the quality to finish in tight areas. Racking up huge numbers of shots and wondering why they aren't scoring more. It's not just bad luck.

I keep saying it, but they have a very average team with just one world class element – Tim Cahill's head. Get it wide and cross it in.

John Graham
32 Posted 10/10/2017 at 12:54:53
I agree with you Paul (#8) – he is purely a stopper. Think since he has come to us he has either tried to change his game or been told to change his game. He needs to out muscle the attackers more, get the tackles in quickly before anyone can get a run on him and stop messing around at the back trying to control it but and just get rid quickly.

This is why he played well at both Swansea and Wales over the past few years and this is why we bought him. If he's given too much time to think, he usually messes it up.

Danny Broderick
33 Posted 10/10/2017 at 13:07:15
There is only one position Williams can play – in the middle of 3 centre halves in a backs to the wall type defence. In fairness to him, he is good at this. He is good at getting blocks in – he is an old fashioned stopper. This is why he did well for Wales in the Euros.

The trouble is, this limits the team. The higher up the league you go, the more you need to be able to handle a football. Williams cannot play any other system – he gets exposed in a back 4 due to his lack of pace.

We'd probably be best off cutting our losses on him in the summer if we could get a few million for him...

Mike Doyle
34 Posted 10/10/2017 at 13:49:42
Great to see Tim Cahill still making those runs into the box – and out jumping taller opponents. Always up for the battle.
Trevor Lynes
35 Posted 10/10/2017 at 15:31:00
What is really obvious to me is that playing Sigurdsson and Rooney in the same starting eleven is ludicrous. Sigurdsson surely was bought as our playmaker, so he should be more central. Rooney should be benched and brought on if needed. Until we get a top goal scorer, we will struggle unless one of the youngsters comes good soon. Otherwise we will be in the doldrums until January.It was a disastrous mistake to let Lukaku leave without a replacement. We should have insisted on a player exchange or kept him. The money has been used on the defence and midfield which is a blunder of great magnitude IMO. We now have loads of defenders and defensive midfielders with next to nothing up top.As fans we have been let down badly and in all honesty I was very nervous before the season began with this present squad. Barkley and Mirallas are badly unsettled and we have Bolasie and Coleman out. Koeman does not know his best centre back pairing which is ridiculous.
Declan Martin
36 Posted 10/10/2017 at 15:58:14
Last night's Ireland v Wales play-off showcased two Everton centre backs - one currently with the team and the other foolishly sold.

While the hapless Ashley Williams creaked and cranked about the place, before losing the ball away for the winning goal (he does that a lot), at the other end Shane Duffy was imperious in clearing away the Welsh bombshells – particularly in the final period when it was backs-to-the-wall stuff.

Could we swap them now?

David Currie
37 Posted 10/10/2017 at 16:29:33
Before the season started, I came on here and said Williams should never play for us again and should be sold. He is not Premier League standard, he will only do well in a back 3 where his team defends deep and plays backs-to-the-walls defending. As a youth coach for over 22 years I can't believe that Koeman still picks him.

Declan (#36), I very much doubt Brighton would want him but nice comment.

Tony Everan
38 Posted 10/10/2017 at 16:41:57
Williams should not be first choice. He should be a squad player and used as a sub. He is definitely part of the problem this season.
Daniel A Johnson
39 Posted 10/10/2017 at 16:48:59
Too many people jumping on the Williams bandwagon with this story.

It was Hennessey who should be called out, not Williams. That throw to Williams with two players on him was suicidal. Unfortunately Williams seems to be carrying the can for what was a Hennessey brain fart.

I agree, Williams has been poor this season, but he was blameless for this one.

Tony McNulty
40 Posted 10/10/2017 at 17:01:07
Derek (#13),

There are a number of horrible, unpalatable truths in your post. I really hope you are wrong, but so far I see little evidence that you are.

The trouble is, that if you are correct about our manager, any improvement will only flatter to deceive, and extend our torture for months, perhaps years.

Peter Gorman
41 Posted 10/10/2017 at 17:10:59
Jay Harris @5 – celebration of Sigurdsson taking Iceland to the World Cup? Until the man starts to show anything like the form to justify his fee to Everton, I frankly couldn't give a tinker's cuss what he does for Iceland.

As for Williams, I could almost live with his habitual clumsiness if there was some trade-off in the form of commanding presence (as a former Swansea and Wales captain, I for one expected him to be capable of this) but he barely says a word to the other half-hearted meffs who currently wear the jersey. Massively underwhelmed.

John Pierce
43 Posted 10/10/2017 at 18:03:42
C'mon folks! A colander would look twice as good when compared to Williams at the moment. Sure in the context of the game Duffy looked competent.

Imagine him back at Goodison? Nah. Ironically, he has exactly the same ball playing issues as Williams. And he also looked decent because Ireland choose to soak it all up.

We just need a new CB dominant and can handle the the ball neatly and under duress.

I've watched the Icelanders last three qualifiers since Sigurdsson joined. He just is a No 10, end of. You can play him in a four in midfield or behind a striker.

His talent is clear, so naturally you might think he's good enough to squeeze in somewhere else. Don't. That by the way I believe is a strength to be good at whatever your main job is.

Utility men like the glorious Alan Harper were useful in the era of 1 or 2 subs but there's no need now. Just play the lad in the strongest position.

I would personally like to see a four across the park. Left to Right; Vlasic, Gana, Sigurdsson, Davies. A straight up and down central midfield pair of Gana and Sigurdsson.

I'd be tempted in home games to play Baines, Keane & Holgate behind them.

As Baines withers on the vine, he looks more like a left CB we could use at the moment. A touch left field but worth a try until January.

James Hughes
44 Posted 10/10/2017 at 18:11:22
You should be enjoying the fact that an Everton player, captain of his country, has been knocked out of the World Cup.

John G. I have been puzzled by that post. Do you not want our players in world tournaments, playing against the best national players? It may make them better players for the future.

Neil Cremin
45 Posted 10/10/2017 at 18:15:06
Aged John (#42)
Andy Crooks
46 Posted 10/10/2017 at 18:16:35
John (#43), Duffy can only be judged in the context of the game. How else could I come to the conclusion that he played well last night? I get your point but I would argue that this season he has been superior to any of our central defenders.

The hapless Martinez should never have sold him. I would have him back tomorrow because he is not a frightened rabbit; and unfortunately our team has too many of them.

John Pierce
47 Posted 10/10/2017 at 18:29:51

I'm sure you've seen Duffy play for Everton on the odd occasion he was selected and he is a stopper like Williams. That was what I was getting at, last night was not the only time surely most people have seen the lad play. And yet??

Where was the clamour for him before this game?

False flag I'm afraid. Two modest sides that churned out a pretty dour game really. Nobody on that pitch ex-Everton or otherwise merits any envious glances from ourselves to replace what we have.

Williams is so poor because like many of our squad they are being asked to do something they are not good at.

Duffy limited as he his would look just as poor as Williams put in the same situations. They are essentially the same player I would suggest.

Eddie Dunn
48 Posted 10/10/2017 at 18:40:17
John (#43). Baines is too short to play as a left centre-back.
John G Davies
49 Posted 10/10/2017 at 18:52:36
James (#44),

I know sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.

Phil Walling
50 Posted 10/10/2017 at 18:58:48
Only 6/4 against an Everton win at Brighton. So we'll have some of that as Koeman starts a great run.

I hope.

John Smith
52 Posted 10/10/2017 at 19:19:42
Williams might have been groggy after being headbutted. FIFA are looking into an incident in the 61st minute.
Peter Laing
53 Posted 10/10/2017 at 19:27:34
Unfortunately Williams is finished. We signed him on the back of a good Euro tournament and he was a Steady Eddy prior to that for Swansea. No great loss, £12 million with no potential sell-on value.

We needed another Centre Half as a minimum to go with Keane given the injury prone Funes Mori, ageing Jagielka and failing to impress Williams, but again the board failed to recruit. Koeman has been hung out to dry but his defensive options are seriously limited.

John Smith
54 Posted 10/10/2017 at 20:01:23
Funes Mori isn't injury prone. He plays his heart out and got injured once.
Eric Paul
55 Posted 10/10/2017 at 20:20:34
John @42,

There lies the problem.

Martin Mason
56 Posted 10/10/2017 at 20:42:46
I've seen Duffy play for Brighton and know that Brighton fans rate him although he'd had a bad time at Blackburn, far better than his £4M transfer fee would suggest. He is a very steady, reliable defender who shouldn't be mixed up with Williams who is neither.

He'd be perfect for Everton at the moment as we don't really have a defence or a tall centre-back like Duffy, who may be able to reduce our comical vulnerability to crosses.

Martin Mason
57 Posted 10/10/2017 at 20:53:54
Sorry, meant to add that he took a lot of flack for calling Martin McGuinness a hero in a town who'd suffered an atrocious bombing by the IRA. Nobody said that defenders had to have a brain though.
James Hughes
58 Posted 10/10/2017 at 21:34:12
John G. My apologies – the sarcasm went over my head and has just landed in Reykjavik.

Lately I've seen too many posts that have been similar but no sarcasm has been intended.

Declan Martin
59 Posted 10/10/2017 at 21:40:25
John (#46), I think this may have happened around the time he was transferred to Everton.

Hopefully FIFA will recommend we get our money back.

Michael Farrelly
60 Posted 10/10/2017 at 22:08:40
While discussing the World Cup qualifiers I sat through Bosnia v Belgium the other day. Our man Besic played 66 minutes in central midfield for Bosnia and basically trotted around in a circle for the whole time. He did absolutely nothing, barely touched the ball.

For a player who has missed so much football over the last four seasons, you would think, now finally fit, he would be relishing the opportunity to play in front of his countrymen.

Belgium, in a 'Bobby Brown Shoes' defensive train wreck master class finally took home the bacon 4-3. Already qualified they barely got out of 2nd gear. Our man Besic unfortunately appeared to be stuck in neutral for the entire time he had on the field. This guy is just not at Premier League level, and never was really. He is taking up a valuable spot on our playing roster.

Barry Jones
62 Posted 11/10/2017 at 01:05:47
Brian Hennessey, totally agree with you about the Williams calamity for Wales. First, your namesake made a terrible decision to throw the ball out to Williams who was already reasonably closed down.

Second, another terrible decision, this time by Williams, to try to play the ball forward when it wasn't on.

Lastly and most criminally, Williams could have easily closed Hendricks down and blocked the cross, but he made a pathetic half hearted effort to do so.

Players make mistakes, they are human, but a lack of effort in a situation like that is unforgivable.

Jamie Crowley
63 Posted 11/10/2017 at 03:08:28
Well, I'll be rooting for all the Blues in World Cup 2018...

Fucking distraught tonight! USA shits the bed.

I'm just absolutely gutted.

Go Ireland, go Blues representing. Hoping Mexico doesn't make it out of their fucking group.

Fuck me.

James Brand
64 Posted 11/10/2017 at 18:41:12
Help us to 3 points and start repaying the transfer fee and the people who actually pay your wages would do nicely Gylfi!!
John Audsley
65 Posted 11/10/2017 at 19:02:12
Duffy is a very good defender and I agree we should have never sold him. Isn't he left-footed as well or am I wrong?

Williams needs benching, he looks emotionally spent and even a week or two away from the game might help to clear his head.

New centre-back needed, Ronald, and a striker, if you can be bothered to make the effort.

John Roberts
66 Posted 11/10/2017 at 22:30:09
I've been posting all season, Ashley Williams is awful! So so clumsy in his tackling, his decision making and his distribution are also a lot to be desired! Needs dropping but we have nothing in reserve – that's the problem.
Neil Cremin
67 Posted 12/10/2017 at 00:30:00
John (#47),

I thought us selling Duffy was madness when our centre-halves were aging and we were very vulnerable to crosses (Stones). I think they would have made a great partnership. Said so on threads at the time.

As for two modest sides, I agree, but nobody on pitch merits envious glances to what we have, you must be joking. If we could harness half the bottle, fight and will to win that the Irish showed, we would not be in the dire situation we find ourselves in and I fear will continue to be in so long as Koeman is in charge. Peter Reid recognises that.

Jamie Evans
68 Posted 13/10/2017 at 17:52:53
Ashley Williams is an imposter. A kopite imposter. How many games has he played for us ? About 50 ? You can count the number of good games he has had for us on 1 hand. His body language has stunk since he arrived. I can only remember him cracking a smile once after he scored against Arsenal.
Chris Kelsall
69 Posted 13/10/2017 at 18:37:02
Jamie (#68), grow up, fella... Williams a Kopite??? What planet are you on? He's made errors, so has everybody in our team.
Jamie Evans
70 Posted 14/10/2017 at 08:03:12
Chris, unfortunately I don't have the IT skills to send you the link so just Google it mate. Full kit circa early 90s.

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