Harry Maguire and Dele Alli have headed England into their first World Cup semi-final in 28 years, scoring either side of half-time to dispatch Sweden 2-0 in their Samara quarter-final.
Maguire scored the opener off England’s first corner of the match, the Leicester defender powering home Ashley Young’s delivery in the 30th minute. Alli then nodded home in the 59th minute after Jesse Lingard floated a delightful cross towards the back post.
Gareth Southgate’s side are now just one win away from the World Cup final. England’s semi-final opponents will be decided on Saturday night, when the host nation Russia face Croatia at the Fisht Stadium.
England fielded an unchanged side with Alli, who had missed two games in Russia with a left thigh problem, lining up alongside Lingard and Jordan Henderson for the third time in Russia, while Raheem Sterling again started ahead of Marcus Rashford.
Sweden, who knocked out Switzerland in last 16, named two changes: Seb Larsson returned from suspension to replace Gustav Svensson in midfield and Emil Krafth replaced the banned Mikael Lustig at right-back.
Jamie Vardy had been England’s main injury concern but the Leicester striker was listed among the substitutes. Three of Southgate’s starting XI – Kyle Walker, Lingard and Henderson – started the match one booking away from suspension, as well as the substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
England made a scrappy start, Young mis-controlling twice in the opening few minutes and Walker drilling a pass straight at Marcus Berg’s back. They did enjoy more possession, though, with Sweden inviting England on.
Sterling’s first forward run led to a free-kick which Henderson took quickly but hit it straight against a Sweden player. The referee waved play on but England immediately lost the ball attempting to switch the play wide on the left.
Alli dispossessed Krafth at the next England attack but his through-ball for Harry Kane ran too long and Robin Olsen easily gathered.
The game had taken on a sluggish pace when Viktor Claesson was given space to shoot from 25 yards as England backed off. The shot sailed high and wide but Jordan Pickford was furious with his defenders.
Space opened up in front of Claesson again on the quarter-hour but his ball into the box came off Henderson and allowed Maguire to clear.
In the 19th minute England broke with speed, Henderson shuttling the ball forward for Sterling. The Manchester City winger progressed upfield and stepped aside when his run brought him alongside Kane. The captain swept at goal from 20 yards but was a yard off target.
After a patient build-up Sterling finally took England inside the box and appealed for handball when his chipped pass hit Emil Forsberg but the referee Bjorn Kuipers waved play on. When England broke again Trippier crossed too close to Olsen, who smothered.
England won their first corner after half an hour following good work from Henderson, Alli and Trippier. It proved a goldmine for Southgate’s side, Young clipping a ball towards the penalty spot in Maguire’s direction. The Leicester defender attacked the space, leapt above Forsberg and powered home to make it 1-0.
Source – Guardian