England’s World Cup dream is still alive as they beat Sweden to reach the semi finals of the World Cup for the first time since 1990.
It was a superb performance from Gareth Southgate’s England side and perhaps the most accomplished win as the Three Lions looked solid defensively and dangerous going forward. That as well as Henderson superbly controlling the midfield gave England what was a relatively comfortable victory, but Jordan Pickford had to make several superb saves to keep England two goals ahead and in the comfort zone. But after a slow start, England were always in control of the game and will now look ahead to their biggest game in decades against Croatia in the Semi Final on Wednesday.
There were very few chances from either side in the first 20 minutes, the only real decent opportunity was when Kane’s effort flashed wide. However, once the nerves had settled England upped their game and took the game to the Swedes. And the Three Lions got the lead through Maguire’s header from Ashley Young’s superb corner, his first international goal and England’s fifth from a set-piece at this World Cup.
Sterling then had a massive opportunity chance to double England’s lead on the stroke of half time. Jordan Henderson’s through-ball, perfectly picked out Raheem Sterling but he failed to take it past Olsen, and then tried a quick shot but it was blocked. England lead at the break but should have really been 2-0 up had they have taken their chances…
Sweden didn’t have a good chance at goal at all in the first half but almost leveled within five minutes of the second. Marcus Berg rose above Young at the far post from Augustinson’s cross, but Pickford made his first magnificent save of the game, tipping the effort away. England regained control of the match not long after though and doubled their lead just before the hour mark. Alli netted his first goal of the tournament, nodding home from another great cross, this time by Lingard.
England generally were comfortable in the last half an hour, but Pickford was still called upon to make two fantastic saves to keep England two goals ahead. He was first called upon to keep out Viktor Claesson’s effort. The Everton stopper had to dive low to his right to stop the shot arrowing in to the corner. And not long after he had to tip over Berg’s effort as he shot on the turn inside the box.
From then, England looked solid and saw out the final stages in a professional manner to seal a relatively comfortable win compared to the drama of their Round of 16 penalty shootout win against Colombia. The win means England will play in their first tournament semi-final since the Euros in 1996.
Every England player played their part from, Pickford in goal to Kane’s great hold up play up front. Sterling made superb runs but will be disappointed not to have scored that great opportunity before half time. Henderson made some superb passes and bossed the midfield, while Maguire, Stones and Walker all looked very solid. Trippier showed again why he’s been one of the best players so far this tournament with great crosses. The players will have to replicate their great performances against Croatia on Wednesday, after beating Russia on penalties in the Quarter Finals.
Sweden will look back on what has been a successful tournament and a massive improvement on their Euro 2016 Campaign. However, having what was a very kind run to the final they will also look back with regret and wonder what could have been had they taken those second half chances.