Iceland too hot for hosts in inaugural China Cup

Last year’s Euro championship heroes prove too strong for the mainland with a 2-0 victory in Nanning in the four-team tournament

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 January, 2017, 3:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 January, 2017, 3:10am

Iceland reached the final of the inaugural China Cup in Nanning, defeating the hosts 2-0 at the Guangxi Sports Centre on Tuesday night before a crowd of 23,876.

China, buoyed by the news that their country’s hopes of reaching the World Cup finals in 2026 were boosted by an expanded 48-team format, failed to find the net against last year’s European championship heroes. Iceland defeated England 2-1 in one of the biggest upsets in footballing history in the last 16 in Nice.

Kjartan Finnbogason broke the deadlock in the 65th minute before 23-year-old striker Aron Sigurdarson doubled the tally a minute before time in cool weather conditions, which Iceland felt right at home in the southern Chinese autonomous region of Guangxi province.

China will play in the third-place play-off against either Chile or Croatia, who play in the other semi-final at the same venue on Wednesday night.

Iceland, meanwhile, progressed to Sunday’s final.

Organisers created a new international football friendly tournament in Nanning to foster new ties and help China prepare for their remaining qualifying games for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The Nanning event is expected to be an annual tournament with eight teams playing in future.