Pearce's unlucky U21s fall to Icelandic raiders

England U21 1 Iceland U21 2
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The Independent Football

A below-strength England Under-21 side were beaten by Iceland in Preston last night as they continued their build-up to June's European Championship.

Stuart Pearce's side beat Denmark 4-0 last Thursday and they took the lead 13 minutes in last night through Nathan Delfouneso. But Arnor Smarason equalised three minutes before half-time and West Ham's Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson headed a winner in the 67th minute.

The England coach defended his team selection and said that the side paid a heavy price for some complacent defending. "I needed to see as many players as I possibly could to give myself an idea for the summer," he said. "We got our noses in front with a very good goal and then we got complacent. I don't think you can afford to do that at any level."

Pearce gave full debuts to Aston Villa defender Nathan Baker and 17-year-old Ipswich striker Connor Wickham while Chelsea midfielder Josh McEachran was given another chance.

The hosts dominated early on and took the lead when Danny Rose's through-ball was coolly dispatched into the bottom corner by Delfouneso. Pearce's side looked in control but on 42 minutes Iceland levelled when Smarason slotted the ball past McCarthy. And England fell behind midway through the second half when Smarason crossed for Eyjolfsson to flick a header just inside the far post.