Romelu Lukaku paid tribute to stand-in Iceland coach Arnar Vidarsson despite a defeat to Belgium that saw them relegated from Nations League Group A2.

Lukaku scored both Belgium goals in a 2-1 away success on Wednesday, his penalty proving decisive after Birkir Mar Saevarsson had levelled for Iceland.

Hosts Iceland perhaps deserved a point after pushing for a second equaliser after half-time, subjecting the world's top-ranked side to a tense finish midweek.

Despite their demotion, Iceland's performance was made all the more remarkable by the absence of their usual coaching staff amid coronavirus measures.

With head coach Erik Hamren and his assistants in quarantine, Under-21s boss Vidarsson flew in to lead the side.

Vidarsson spent the majority of his playing career in Belgium with Lokeren and Cercle Brugge, however, also taking coaching roles with both clubs and therefore having an insight into the away team.

Lukaku told VTM: "I have to congratulate coach Vidarsson.

"He set his men up very well today. Okay, he knows us very well, but he made it a difficult match for us tonight."

Vidarsson said: "I haven't slept much and it has been an interesting 24 hours but fun.

"The game plan was well set up and us stand-ins were comfortable with following it. We are proud and the boys can be proud of themselves.

"Overall, the performance was decent, but we wanted to get the equaliser in the end."

While Iceland will finish bottom of the group, Belgium regained top spot courtesy of defeat for England – winners against Roberto Martinez's men last week – at home to Denmark.

"We are top of the group again - now it's important to make the difference in the final two games," Lukaku added.

Romelu Lukaku scored twice as Belgium bounced back from a rare defeat against England on Sunday by beating Iceland 2-1 in the Nations League in Reykjavik.

The world's top-ranked side controversially lost for the first time in almost two years at Wembley to slip from the summit in Group A2, but they returned to the top of the pile with victory on Wednesday.

In the absence of Kevin De Bruyne following his injury last time out, Lukaku was predictably the star and netted either side of a Birkir Mar Saevarsson equaliser in the first half.

With England losing at home to Denmark, that brace proved enough for the Red Devils to reclaim control of the pool, surviving a slightly nervy stretch after half-time to condemn Iceland to relegation.

Lukaku quickly came to the fore and had the visitors in front after nine minutes, seizing on Hordur Magnusson's loose touch in the area and holding off Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson to slam a left-footed finish past Alex Runarsson.

But that lead lasted just eight minutes as Runar Mar Sigurjonsson's superb pass in behind Yannick Carrasco allowed Saevarsson to tuck in the equaliser.

Iceland pushed in search of a second, yet Eyjolfsson's rash lunge then saw Lukaku win a penalty for a second match running and, as against England, capitalise from 12 yards.

An entertaining first half gave way to a tense second and Belgium mustered only two attempts after the break but held on to deal Iceland a costly defeat.


What does it mean? Martinez's men made to work

Following the England game, victory was the most important measure for Roberto Martinez's side on Thursday. But having won each of their 12 prior meetings with Iceland - including two over the past two Nations League campaigns - Belgium might have expected a more straightforward success.

De Bruyne's drive was clearly missed in midfield and Iceland, typically a conservative side, would have had more than their 37 per cent of possession in the second half had they not gone direct in the closing stages.

Lukaku looks the part

Defenders simply have no answer for Lukaku right now. He has now scored six goals in his past five games for Inter and Belgium and was as dominant in Iceland as he had been in the first half in England.

As well as scoring with his only two shots and creating a further chance, the striker was involved in eight duels as he kept the home defence occupied.

Carrasco caught out

Timothy Castagne has been in fine form for Leicester City this season, but he dropped to the bench for this match, meaning Carrasco lined up as Belgium's left-sided wing-back.

Far happier in an attacking role, the Atletico Madrid man was preyed upon for Iceland's equaliser and failed to make a single tackle, clearance or interception.

What's next?

November brings another set of triple-headers. Belgium's focus will be on the return game against England but they first face Switzerland in a friendly, while Iceland have a do-or-die Euro 2020 play-off with Hungary.

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has left the Belgium camp with a reported muscle injury.

Courtois was deemed unfit ahead of the friendly against Ivory Coast on Thursday and will miss Nations League games against England and Iceland on Sunday and Wednesday respectively.

According to the Spanish media, the 28-year-old has an issue with his psoas muscle but is still expected to feature for Madrid against Cadiz next weekend.

Zinedine Zidane will hope that is the case after back-up keeper Andriy Lunin tested positive for coronavirus on Tuesday.

Courtois also withdrew due to an injury problem when he was called up by Roberto Martinez during the previous round of international fixtures.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claims England boss Gareth Southgate went against his wishes by calling up Mason Greenwood after the teenager's maiden senior international experience ended in disgrace.

Greenwood, 18, was selected for the Three Lions squad to face Iceland and Denmark in the Nations League at the start of this month.

He made his debut from the bench as England won the former game 1-0 but was then sent home along with Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden after the duo breached strict coronavirus protocols by entertaining women at the team hotel.

Speaking ahead of United's first Premier League game of the 2020-21 season at home to Crystal Palace, Solskjaer questioned England's approach to Greenwood's welfare and suggested he needed a mental break after the rigours of a superb breakthrough campaign, which continued deep into August as United reached the semi-finals of the Europa League.

"Yeah, of course I've spoken to Mason," Solskjaer said. "What we speak about and discuss will be between the two of us.

"The kid had a fantastic season, he's just come through. I've worked and the club has worked and all the staff here have worked really hard - when we gave Mason enough time on the pitch, when we gave him exposure in the media.

"Then you come to the end of the season and we've had less than two weeks off and he's called up to the national team."

Solskjaer seemed to take particular exception to Greenwood being assigned media conference duties ahead of his England debut.

"I have to be honest enough to say I tried my best to give him a rest over the summer, at the club we asked specifically and pointed out he should have had a rest," he added.

"He needs it mentally and physically after that season he had and the first thing that happens is one, he's called up and two, he's right there in the press.

"We've done whatever we can to protect him and I will keep on helping him. I know when he comes back into the daily routine of the club and what we do to him he'll be fine."

Greenwood scored 17 goals in all competitions last season, matching the best return for a teenager in United colours - a distinction he now shares with club greats George Best, Brian Kidd and Wayne Rooney.

Mason Greenwood accepted he showed "poor judgement" after footage emerged of the Manchester United striker appearing to show him inhaling laughing gas.

The video, which was published by The Sun, comes in the wake of Greenwood being sent home prior to England's Nations League contest with Denmark having broken coronavirus protocol rules after making his Three Lions debut against Iceland last weekend.

In the footage, teenager Greenwood can be seen filling a balloon apparently with nitrous oxide from a canister before inhaling.

Possession of laughing gas is not illegal but its use can be potentially dangerous and is associated with a risk of heart attacks or brain damage.

In a statement from Greenwood released via United, he acknowledged that his rise to prominence means his actions will be "judged to a higher standard".

"I have now been made aware of the health risks associated with this practice and accept that even trying it, as shown in these historical pictures, was poor judgement on my part. I strongly urge others not to follow my example," he said.

"As an 18 year old I am learning all the time, however,  this week I have also learned that I will be judged to a higher standard because of my career as a footballer and I must respect that in future. I am determined to repay the faith shown in me by my manager and coaches."

Greenwood, alongside Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden, was dropped by England after it emerged the pair had ignored coronavirus-prevention protocols following the 1-0 triumph over Iceland.

They remained in Reykjavik while the rest of the squad travelled to Denmark after an Icelandic website published a story where Greenwood and Foden appeared to be shown in a Snapchat video posted by one of the two girls with whom they were said to be socialising.

The Football Association (FA) has launched a full investigation into the matter, while Greenwood and Foden were condemned by their respective clubs.

Greenwood later issued his own apology, while England manager Gareth Southgate branded their actions as "naive".

Kevin De Bruyne could not wait to leave the Belgium bubble after their Nations League thrashing of Iceland so he could be reunited with his family and newborn daughter.

Manchester City playmaker De Bruyne, who was named PFA Player of the Year earlier on Tuesday, helped Belgium to a 5-1 victory in which Michy Batshuayi scored twice.

De Bruyne missed Saturday's 2-0 win against Denmark to be at the birth of Suri, his third child with wife Michele.

De Bruyne was back on duty for his country as they made it six points from two games in Group A2, helping Belgium recover from shipping an early goal to Holmbert Fridjonsson.

Man of the match Batshuayi's double and goals from Axel Witsel, Dries Mertens and 18-year-old Jeremy Doku allowed Belgium to cruise to an ultimately impressive win behind closed doors in Brussels.

"It was a great night for us. I am happy to be back on the pitch," De Bruyne said, quoted on UEFA.com.

"I don't think my newborn daughter will have seen the game tonight, but I can't wait to be back with her and my wife and kids."

Speaking to Belgian broadcaster RTBF, De Bruyne said Belgium were given problems by the team that lost 1-0 to England on Saturday.

"Iceland played with a compact block. It was complicated to find the solution at the start of the match," he said.

"But that did not surprise me given the match this team played against England.

"It's good to win two matches in these conditions because not everyone has participated in the same number of training sessions before joining the squad. I think we played well at times."

Toby Alderweireld completed a century of Belgium appearances in a largely empty King Baudouin Stadium.

"A 100th game without an audience, it's a shame," said the Tottenham defender. "I would have liked my family to be there, but I'm happy to have reached this bar."

Iceland head coach Erik Hamren, quoted by UEFA.com, said: "We need to face the fact that they are a better team than us. We had neither the energy nor strength to defend for each other throughout the game."

And while his Belgium counterpart Roberto Martinez admitted the visitors made life "complicated" early on, the Spaniard added: "After this delicate moment, we managed to find a way to hurt them."

Belgium moved two points clear at the top of their Nations League group as they came from behind to thump Iceland 5-1.

Roberto Martinez's men fell behind in bizarre fashion through Holmbert Fridjonsson's deflected effort that marked the first of three goals in seven minutes.

Axel Witsel promptly levelled and Michy Batshuayi made it 2-1 to Belgium, who spurned further first-half chances to extend the lead.

But Dries Mertens put Belgium firmly in command early in the second half before Batshuayi doubled his tally and Jeremy Doku bent home a brilliant first senior international goal.

It is a win that gives them breathing room from England in Group A2 after Gareth Southgate's men were held to a goalless draw by Denmark.

The flurry of goals started in remarkable fashion in the 10th minute when Fridjonsson's effort from the edge of the area deflected off Jason Denayer and over the head of a helpless Koen Casteels.

Iceland's lead lasted just three minutes when Witsel's effort crossed the line before being cleared, the Borussia Dortmund man pouncing after Ogmundur Kristinsson tipped Mertens' free-kick onto the crossbar.

And Witsel was heavily involved when the turnaround was completed in the 17th minute as Kristinsson could only parry his low effort as far as Batshuayi, who tucked home from point-blank range.

Belgium then could have put daylight between themselves and the visitors but Mertens fired over the bar.

Kristinsson denied Mertens shortly before half-time but five minutes into the second half, after Kevin De Bruyne's shot narrowly deflected wide, the Napoli forward atoned for his earlier miss.

De Bruyne was typically to the fore as, following the resulting corner, he slid a neat pass into Mertens, who cut inside off his left foot to fire into the bottom-left corner.

Casteels was forced off and replaced by Simon Mignolet following a collision with Jon Fjoluson but that was a minor blemish on a triumph that became more emphatic in the 69th minute.

Witsel was twice denied before De Bruyne played in substitute Yari Verschaeren, whose cutback was flicked home by Batshuayi.

Doku applied the finishing touches, collecting a wonderful pass from De Bruyne before coming in from the left and curling a sublime finish into the top-right corner.

Mason Greenwood has apologised to England manager Gareth Southgate for breaking coronavirus protocols in Iceland and vowed to learn from his mistakes.

Greenwood, 18, and Phil Foden, 20, were excluded from the Three Lions' squad after it emerged they had ignored coronavirus-prevention protocols in Iceland following England's 1-0 Nations League win on Saturday, when both men made their senior debuts.

The pair had to remain in Reykjavik as the rest of the squad travelled to Denmark after an Icelandic website published a story where Foden and Greenwood appeared to be shown in a Snapchat video posted by one of two Icelandic girls they were said to be socialising with.

The country's self-isolation rules prohibit such meetings, with England only granted certain exemptions so they could play in Saturday's match.

Greenwood and Foden were unable to train with the squad on Monday as a result of the meeting and were ordered to stay behind in Reykjavik before travelling home separately.

The Football Association (FA) has launched a full investigation into the matter and, following a statement from Greenwood's club Manchester United in which his actions were condemned, the teenager has released a public apology of his own.

"Having now had the chance to reflect on what's happened, I can only apologise to everyone for the embarrassment I have caused," Greenwood said in a statement posted to United's website.

"It was irresponsible of me to break the COVID-19 protocols which are in place to protect players, staff and the public.

"In particular, I want to apologise to Gareth Southgate, for letting him down, when he had shown great trust in me.

"Playing for England was one of the proudest moments in my life and I only have myself to blame for this huge mistake.

"I promise my family, the fans, Manchester United and England that this is a lesson I will learn from."

Phil Foden accepts his behaviour did not meet the expectations required of him as an England player as he apologised for breaching coronavirus protocol rules.

The Manchester City attacking midfielder made his debut in England's 1-0 Nations League win over Iceland on Saturday but was dropped alongside Manchester United star Mason Greenwood for Tuesday's clash in Denmark after breaking rules put in place to ensure player safety.

The pair have had to remain behind in Reykjavik after an Icelandic website published a story where Foden and Greenwood appeared to be shown in a Snapchat video posted by one of the girls they were said to be socialising with.

Iceland's self-isolation rules prohibit such meetings and England boss Gareth Southgate confirmed Foden and Greenwood were unable to train on Monday as a result and would not feature against Denmark.

Foden has made his first public statement since the incident was brought to light and vowed to learn from his error.

"Following the story which has emerged today regarding my actions in Iceland, I want to make a full apology," Foden posted on Twitter.

"I apologise to Gareth Southgate, to my England team-mates, to the staff, supporters and also to my club and my family.

"When I was called up by Gareth for these games, my first reaction was that of immense pride. To pull on that shirt for the senior team in my England debut was an incredible privilege.

"I am a young player with a lot to learn, but I am aware of the huge responsibility I have in representing Manchester City and England at this level.

"On this occasion I made a poor decision and my behaviour didn't meet the standards expected of me.

"I breached COVID-19 protocols put in place to protect myself and my England colleagues. As a consequence I will now miss the opportunity to travel to Denmark with the squad, and that hurts.

"I will learn a valuable lesson from this error in judgment and I wish Gareth and the team good luck this week."

Both City and United released statements condemning the actions of their players, while the Football Association said it will fully investigate.

Southgate described their actions as "naive" but was non-committal about how the incident will impact on their involvement with England moving forward.

"I think [to make a call on] those things, it's too early until I have all the information. I don't think I should be making those comments," Southgate told the media on Monday.

"I'm a father to young adults. I know young people get things wrong, we're not excusing that. We've got to assess everything else moving forward."

Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood will be investigated by the Football Association (FA) after the England duo breached coronavirus protocol while on international duty in Iceland.

Manchester City midfielder Foden, 20, and Manchester United striker Greenwood, 18, have been dropped for the Three Lions' Nations League encounter with Denmark in Copenhagen on Tuesday.

The pair have had to remain behind in Reykjavik - where they made their senior England debuts in Saturday's 1-0 win - after an Icelandic website published a story where Foden and Greenwood appeared to be shown in a Snapchat video posted by one of the girls they were said to be socialising with.

Iceland's self-isolation rules prohibit such meetings and England boss Gareth Southgate confirmed Foden and Greenwood were unable to train on Monday as a result and would not feature against Denmark.

Southgate met the press shortly after the story first emerged and the FA has now published a statement promising to look further into the matter.

"Whilst in Iceland, both Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood spent time outside of our private team area, which was a breach of our COVID-19 rules," an FA spokesperson said.

"While they did not leave the team hotel, it was an unacceptable breach of our protocol. They have both apologised for their serious lack of judgement.

"The FA will be launching a full investigation into the circumstances leading up to this breach. We have spoken to the Football Association of Iceland to offer our apologies for this incident and to assure them that we are taking the appropriate steps.

"We have also assured the Danish Football Union that all other players and staff members have been isolated within our group throughout this period.

"Our immediate priority now is preparing the team for the match against Denmark tomorrow."

Both City and United released statements expressing their disappointment at the actions of their players, while Southgate said he expected to speak with Foden and Greenwood after his news conference.

"Obviously they have been naive," Southgate said. "We've dealt with it appropriately.

"I recognise their age but of course the whole word is dealing with this pandemic and there's responsibility on every age group to make sure that they play their part in keeping each other safe and not spreading the virus.

"We're certainly not underestimating how important it's been to try and keep that bubble as we have."

Manchester United and Manchester City have expressed their disappointment in Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden respectively after the duo were dropped from England's squad for breaching coronavirus isolation rules.

The youngsters appeared to be shown in a video posted on Snapchat by one of the girls they were said to be socialising with in Reykjavik, shortly after making their respective debuts in the 1-0 Nations League victory over Iceland on Saturday.

Such meetings are forbidden as part of Iceland's self-isolation rules in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with England granted special exemptions for the match in Reykjavik. 

Icelandic media suggested England players had been exempt from a five-day quarantine but were subject to mandatory coronavirus tests at the border and were not allowed to meet with anyone outside of the squad or travelling contingent.

Manager Gareth Southgate later confirmed the pair will return to England separately and not take part in Tuesday's contest against Denmark in Copenhagen.

A statement from Manchester United read: "Manchester United are liaising with the Football Association and are disappointed with the actions of Mason Greenwood over this situation."

Stats Perform News understands the club believe Greenwood will not have to quarantine upon his return as the United Kingdom has no travel restrictions with Iceland, although a decision on when he can resume training is expected to be made in due course.

Manchester City added on Foden: "It is clear that Phil's actions were totally inappropriate. 

"His behaviour not only directly contravenes strict guidelines related to COVID-19, but also falls well below the standard expected of a Manchester City player and England international.

"The club supports the FA regarding this incident, and officials from the club are now in touch in relation to Phil's enforced early return to the UK.

"We have no further comment to make on this matter."

Southgate addressed the media on Monday and was keen to stress nobody from outside England's bubble had entered the area of the facilities that the team have been using, and that no one else within the party had come into contact with Greenwood or Foden.

When asked whether the breach would impact the duo's involvement with England moving forward, Southgate said: "I think [to make a call on] those things, it's too early until I have all the information. I don't think I should be making those comments.

"I'm a father to young adults. I know young people get things wrong, we're not excusing that. We've got to assess everything else moving forward."

Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood have been dropped by England and face disciplinary action after breaching coronavirus isolation rules following Saturday's win over Iceland, Gareth Southgate has confirmed.

The youngsters, who made their England debuts in the 1-0 Nations League victory, appeared to be shown in a Snapchat video posted by one of the girls they were said to be socialising with.

Iceland's self-isolation rules in response to the COVID-19 pandemic meant such a meeting was forbidden, with England granted special exemptions only for the match in Reykjavik.

According to Icelandic media, England players were subject to mandatory coronavirus tests at the border and, although they had been exempt from a five-day quarantine, they were not allowed to meet with anyone outside of the squad.

Southgate confirmed the players would be sent home, ruling them out of Tuesday's match with Denmark.

"Unfortunately this morning it was brought to my attention that the two boys have broken the COVID guidelines in terms of our secure bubble – we had to decide they couldn't have interaction with the rest of the team," he said. 

"They'll have to travel back to England separately."

The two players were accused of having people in their hotel rooms, though Southgate is adamant no one from outside of England's bubble entered the parts of the facility that squad use.

"Nothing has happened in the areas that we occupy in the hotel," he said.

"We're still getting to the depths of all the information as this was only brought to my attention a couple of hours before training and we've had to train. We are still getting to grips with some of the details.

"What is clear is there was a breach of the COVID guidelines. We spent a long time getting those measures in place. The whole squad have followed that to the letter.

"We've had four tests since we've been together. In that respect, we had no alternative but to do what we're doing."

Gareth Southgate hailed match-winner Raheem Sterling for standing tall amid a "mixed bag" of an England performance in Iceland.

With Harry Kane off the field, Sterling won and converted a 91st-minute penalty to secure a 1-0 Nations League victory in Reykjavik but there was a further twist in the tale.

Joe Gomez fouled substitute Holmbert Fridjonsson under a long ball in the England box, giving Iceland a chance to level deeper into stoppage time, only for Birkir Bjarnason to blaze wildly off target.

Both sides were down to 10 men by that point, with Kyle Walker and Sverrir Ingason having seen red.

While Ingason's second booking came when he handled Sterling's goal-bound shot in the decisive moment of the match, Walker departed 20 minutes from time for a rash tackle on Arnor Ingvi Traustason when he was already on a yellow card.

"The sending off is a key moment because I felt we were in even more control in the second half," Southgate told Sky Sports when giving an honest assessment of England's ultimately successful bid for a measure of revenge against the nation who humiliatingly knocked them out of Euro 2016.

"It's very difficult to win games of football at any level if you're down to 10 men. That's a lesson we have to learn, it was an unnecessary red card.

"Then the response was great, we managed to stay in good possession of the ball, looked a threat.

"We get the penalty and I thought Raheem's desire through that period and drive was outstanding. It was great that he took that penalty under pressure.

"And then another lesson we have to learn because to invite the ball as we did and defend it the way that we did was really poor play. In the end we get away with it.

"It kind of sums the week up. We've had so many challenges, it's been so difficult to piece everything together."

Walker did not feature for England last season and, in a frank interview with Sky after the game, he conceded he had done his long-term international future no favours following an incident for which he took full responsibility.

"He said the same in the dressing room," Southgate said. "He realises, as an experienced player, those sort of challenges invite the opportunity for the referee to make a decision and it was the right decision.

"I've no complaints in terms of the officials on the penalties or the red cards.

"We've talked a lot over the years about discipline. In tournaments especially, if you go down to 10 men, then the number of times we've gone out of tournaments because of that has proved critical.

"It's not something we want to see again."

Walker will be suspended when England continue their Nations League Group A3 campaign in Denmark on Tuesday.

Kyle Walker fears he could be near the end of his international career after being sent off during England's 1-0 win over Iceland in the Nations League.

The Three Lions overcame their Euro 2016 tormentors when a turgid affair exploded into stoppage-time drama – Raheem Sterling winning and converting a 91st-minute penalty as Sverrir Ingason joined Walker in receiving his marching orders before Birkir Bjarnason missed a subsequent spot-kick for the hosts.

England's increasingly laboured attempts to secure victory before that point were thrown into flux when Walker, already booked, launched into a rash challenge on Arnor Ingvi Traustason with 20 minutes remaining.

A mainstay of England's run to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, Walker did not feature for his country last season.

In that context and considering competition from the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kieran Trippier and the as-yet uncapped Aaron Wan-Bissaka, the 30-year-old Manchester City defender acknowledges his error could come with significant ramifications.

"To get sent off for your country is never a nice moment, especially after being out of the team for so long," Walker told Sky Sports.

"I have to take full blame. I'm an experienced player and I should know when I'm on a yellow card not to make a rash challenge like that.

"It's unacceptable from me.

"[Wanting to impress] possibly plays a big part in it but I don't want to blame that. I'm a seasoned professional and I've played a lot of games.

"So I should know how to manage a game if I'm on a yellow card. I put myself in a situation I shouldn't have been in. I think you have to say fair play to the lads for digging in and fighting and getting the win we desperately wanted."

Walker's City team-mate Phil Foden made his England debut with an assured showing in midfield, while Manchester United teenager Mason Greenwood came off the bench for a first senior cap – underlining the ever-evolving options at Southgate's disposal.

"It's brilliant for English football," Walker said. "Throughout the age groups they've gone and won things.

"Phil was involved in the [2017] World Cup win for the under-20. They're proving it at club level for big clubs.

"The world's their oyster. Obviously I know Phil - and Mason seems to be a very good player. He's sharp and can finish so I wish them all the best."

He added: "That's the sad thing about being a footballer. It does come to an end sometimes and I'm probably near the end on my international career

"I still feel very energetic, I feel like I've got a lot in the legs. Hopefully I will be back. It hurts."

Raheem Sterling praised England for finding "something deep within" as his penalty snatched a late 1-0 Nations League win over Iceland.

Gareth Southgate's side laboured for long periods against the nation who famously humiliated the Three Lions at Euro 2016.

Kyle Walker's 70th-minute red card further complicated matters but Sverrir Ingason joined the Manchester City full-back in receiving his marching orders when he handled Sterling's shot in the final minute.

With Harry Kane having been replaced by debutant Mason Greenwood, the responsibility fell to Sterling, who stroked his spot-kick down the centre of the goal.

"As soon as I got the ball I said 'straight down the middle'," he told Sky Sports. "It's the 90th minute, I knew the keeper wouldn't stand straight in the middle, so I was quite confident."

England then almost instantly threw away their hard-earned gains, with Joe Gomez clumsily impeding substitute Holmbert Fridjonsson in the box.

Birkir Bjarnason stepped up but blazed woefully off target, providing a somewhat fitting conclusion to what was often a slightly disorientating contest.

"We knew it would be difficult and we had to challenge ourselves, find something deep within," Sterling said. "We said if there's any setbacks in the game – we didn't expect the red card – we kept playing our football.

"We kept trying to probe, we kept trying to create chances, we kept compact. We got the penalty in the end.

"We shouldn't have conceded that sloppy penalty, but we got lucky at the end."

Sterling's club team-mate Phil Foden made his international debut in the starting XI and he feels the playmaker's breakthrough, along with that of Greenwood, points towards a bright future.

"Phil, Mason – he's a player I've been excited by and I'm glad to be playing with," the 25-year-old added.

"Phil is a player who gets on the ball, one or two touches, and he's sharp. It's a bright future ahead. We just need to keep growing as a team and each camp we can see that's happening."

Southgate's men return to action against Denmark in Group A2 on Tuesday.

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