England are into the semi-finals of a World Cup for just the third time after an heroic 2-0 victory over Sweden.
Harry Maguire headed them into the lead half-an-hour in, with Dele Alli making up for an indifferent display with another header in the second half.
Sweden caused them plenty of problems, with Jordan Pickford making a couple of important saves, as these players join the icons of 1966 and 1990 in reaching the World Cup last four.
Maguire gives England advantage in quarter-final
England were looking to justify the hysteria their run in the competition is causing, whilst the Swedes were aiming to catch them out to reach a fourth semi-final, having last done so in 1994. They made two changes from their last-16 win over Switzerland, with the suspended Mikael Lustig replaced by Emil Krafth and Sebastian Larsson returned in place of Gustav Svensson. England were unchanged from their tense penalty shootout victory over Colombia.
Gareth Southgate’s side looked to keep possession of the ball early on, but they weren’t very effective in using it and on a couple of occasions were guilty of giving it away – Alli a notable culprit. The best opening early on though did see Alli try to feed Harry Kane, with Robin Olsen beating him to the ball. The first shot in anger came from the Swedes, with Viktor Claesson’s strike from outside the box. It had Pickford diving through the air, but it was comfortably off target.
With 20 minutes gone England began to tentatively push forward, with Raheem Sterling’s pace notably causing Sweden cause for concern. Coming forward, he looked to have lost the ball to Larsson but Kane was able to get a shot away, albeit one that drifted wide. They were putting in plenty of crosses as well, with one promising Kieran Trippier cross just too far ahead of Kane.
There was just a sense that a goal was coming. Another ball from the right from Trippier led to what proved a vital corner. Ashley Young whipped it in, and Maguire rose above Emil Forsberg to head the ball home. It was his first goal in England colours, and he may never score a more important one.
They maintained control of the game up to half-time, but Sterling had three massive chances to score late on. An impressive long ball from Trippier found him in the box but surrounded in the box and Victor Lindelöf cleared. Then Jesse Lingard found him, he ran through and a hesitant shot was saved by Olsen, although he was ultimately offside. Finally, played through by Jordan Henderson from the centre circle, he rounded Olsen, but the goalkeeper got a touch, and despite Sterling reclaiming it, Andreas Granqvist eventually cleared the danger.
Alli settles England’s nerves as they cruise to victory
Janne Andersson got his side fired up for the second half and they sent out an early warning shot. A cross from Ludwig Augustinsson found Marcus Berg in the box. He outjumped Young but Pickford put a hand onto the head to keep it out. Even though Forsberg then put a cross-shot over, England began to take control again, with a Young free-kick causing big problems. Maguire got his head to it twice, with Sterling attempting an overhead kick that didn’t come off, but Sweden on that occasion cleared the danger.
Five minutes after that, with the Three Lions again in the ascendency, they moved the ball around the outside of the box, looking for the chance to put it in. Trippier on the right opted to pass to Lingard, positioned more centrally, and his ball into the box was perfectly weighted, finding the head of Alli to make it 2-0.
Sweden nearly got back into it shortly after as they quickly moved forward, however Claesson’s initial shot was kept out by Pickford, before a follow-up attempt was blocked. Substitute John Guidetti then found Berg with a cross, whose shot was impressive put over the bar by Pickford.
England looked to have remained in control otherwise, with Granqvist redeeming himself in between for a poor clearance from a Sterling shot by blocking up Alli’s rebound. They had to remain firm at the back, with Pickford remaining unbeatable and Young making a notable interception as well.
In the end they professionally saw the game out, with the only moment of danger being an Augustinsson free-kick that ended up sailing over. It was England’s first win at this stage of a World Cup since beating Cameroon in 1990, and they will now head to Moscow and the Luzhniki Stadium for Wednesday’s semi-final against either hosts Russia or Croatia.