England beat Sweden to reach World Cup semi-finals

World Cup quarter-final, Samara Arena – England 2 (Maguire 30′, Dele 59′) Sweden 0

England produced an extremely efficient performance to beat Sweden 2-0 and reach the semi finals of the World Cup for the first time since 1990.

Goals from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli gave Gareth Southgate’s side a comfortable win, with the Three Lions managing the game from start to finish. Jordan Pickford was called upon to make a handful of important saves, but beyond that Sweden didn’t offer much.

Maguire’s bullet header gave England a first half lead after a dull and dreary start to the match, getting on the end of a corner kick delivery from the left side. From that point on, England looked comfortable with Alli adding a second just before the hour mark, finding space at the back post to head home a Jesse Lingard cross.

England will now face one of either Croatia in next week’s semi final, with Southgate’s side looking forward to the country’s first World Cup semi final since Sir Bobby Robson’s team made it to the final four at Italia 90.

TALKING POINT

Dele Alli finally came good at this World Cup. The sight of Alli in the starting lineup for this match was somewhat surprising. There had been strong rumours that he would drop out of the side having struggled to find form and fitness at this World Cup. But Southgate kept faith with Alli and that faith was repaid. Finally, the Spurs playmaker came good at this tournament. He scored England’s second goal and was a threat throughout. Alli found his groove at just the right time.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Jordan Pickford (England) There were a number of standouts for England in this quarter final triumph, with Maguire and Kieran Trippier both impressive, but Pickford was the star man for the Three Lions. There were questions over the young goalkeeper heading into this World Cup, but Pickford has been key for England in Russia. While England dominated large spells of the match, three saves in the second half were crucial in setting up a semi-final date for Southgate’s side. Pickford’s height has been talked about a lot, but he is becoming a giant.

PLAYER RATINGS

Sweden – Olsen 5, Lindelof 7, Granqvist 6, Augustinsson 5, Krafth 6, Larsson 5, Ekdal 5, Forsberg 6, Claesson 5, Berg 6, Toivonen 5. Subs – Olsson 5, Guidetti 5, Jansson.

England – Pickford 9, Maguire 8, Stones 7, Walker 6, Trippier 8, Young 6, Henderson 8, Alli 7, Lingard 7, Sterling 7, Kane 6. Subs – Delph 5, Dier 5, Rashford 5.

KEY MOMENTS

31’ GOAL! Sweden 0-1 England: England have taken the lead! What a header from Maguire! He powered in there and got on the end of a corner kick delivery to smash a header past Olsen in the Sweden goal! What a huge goal for the Three Lions.

45’ IT JUST WON’T GO IN! This time Sterling is onside from the pass from Henderson. Sterling’s touch was great, he tries to round Olsen, he took too long to take the shot and the block is made!

48’ BIG PICKFORD SAVE! A warning for England. Berg beat Young at the back post and powered a header towards the goal, but Pickford got down really well to make the strong save!

59’ GOAL! Sweden 0-2 England: England have a two-goal lead! They are edging closer and closer to a World Cup semi final! Trippier plays it back to Lingard, who finds Alli at the back post completely unmarked and he heads past Olsen! Well-worked goal.

63’ WHAT A SAVE! Pickford has just saved England there. The play from Sweden in the box was excellent. Berg’s backheel found Claesson, but his low shot was saved brilliantly by Pickford and the rebound was blocked.

72’ ANOTHER PICKFORD SAVE! Berg does well to control a pass that was played behind him, he turns and sends the snapshot towards goal. But Pickford does well to tip over his bar!

KEY STATS

England have made the semi finals of a World Cup for the first time since 1990.

Eight of England’s 10 goals at the 2018 World Cup have been scored via set pieces.

Dele Alli became the second youngest player to score a World Cup goal for England, behind only Michael Owen.

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