Iceland qualifies for World Cup for first time

Less than 18 months after sensationally knocking England out of Euro 2016, Iceland qualified for the World Cup for the first time on Monday following a 2-0 win over Kosovo.

Iceland’s Gylfi Sigurdsson celebrates after scoring against Kosovo in Reykjavik on Monday.   -  AP

Less than 18 months after sensationally knocking England out of Euro 2016, Iceland qualified for the World Cup for the first time on Monday following a 2-0 win over Kosovo.

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Needing victory to guarantee top spot in European qualifying Group I, goals from Everton star Gylfi Sigurdsson and Johann Gudmundsson ensured Iceland would be on the plane to Russia 2018.

It was only two years ago that Iceland qualified for a major finals for the first time, taking advantage of a tournament expanded to 24 teams but nonetheless knocking out the Netherlands in qualifying.

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From there the team from the tiny island of just 330,000 people stunned Europe by not only negotiating their group but also upsetting England in the last 16, before going out to hosts France in the quarter-finals.

Now, the World Cup in Russia will also be graced by the popular northern Europeans and its colourful fans who started a clapping trend at the Euros that is sure to make its mark next year.

The fireworks blazed into the sky at the Laugardalsvollur stadium after the team coached by Heimir Hallgrimsson completed their expected victory over the European minnows Kosovo, ranked 184 by FIFA.

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The result left Iceland ahead of Croatia, Ukraine and Turkey after yet another impressive qualifying campaign.