A young English side continued their dream run as the Three Lions qualified for the semi-final for the first time since 1990 beating Sweden 2-0 in the 2018 Fifa World Cup quarter-final at Samara Arena in Russia Saturday. Harry Maguire and Dele Alli both scored from headers in the either side of each half as England find themselves two wins away from lifting the trophy for only the second time in history, after 1966.
England have now scored 11 goals in this World Cup, equaling their performance from 1966. Sweden showed great spirit but failed to finish well. The Swedes were also denied by a superb Jordan Pickford, who was later adjudged player of the match.
Sweden manager Janne Andersson fielded his regular 4-4-2 formation with no room for major surprises, as he promised in the pre-match press conference. Emil Krafth replaced the suspended Mikael Lustig while Sebastian Larsson returned to the starting XI in place of Gustav Svensson.
In contrast, Gareth Southgate fielded the same starting XI that played against Colombia in the last 16. England went in with a 3-5-2 formation, with Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling upfront.
From the onset, both the teams tried to take control of the game and were well aware from conceding an early goal. Most of the time, the two teams grafted hard to keep possession in midfield and attack through slow build-ups.
In the 12th minute, Sweden midfielder Viktor Claesson got some free space in midfield and smashed an ambitious shot from midfield that went over the top of Pickford’s net. It was an early warning for the English defence.
Eight minutes later, the Russia World Cup’s highest scorer with six strikes, Kane got the opportunity to add to his tally after Sterling sent a cross from the right flank. Kane though missed the left side of the post while a dangerous Ashley Young cross from the left wing was cleared by the Swedish defence.
Four minutes later, Kieran Trippier slalomed inside the box but his low cross from the right side was gathered well by a diving Robin Olsen.
In the half-hour mark, the Three Lions got the all-important goal and there were no surprises in the way they bagged the goal. From a Young corner, Maguire jumped high and headed home to give England yet another goal from a set-piece. Among 10 English goals at that point, eight came from set-pieces.
Scoring against this Swedish defence and Olsen is no easy task, just ask the Germans. But the Leicester City defender got himself in a good position and smashed home a powerful header, leaving Olsen stranded.
The last five minutes of the first half was all about England, especially Sterling, who missed a couple of glorious chances. The City forward received a wonderful long ball deep inside the box from Trippier, but it was cleared before he could take control.
Sterling also missed a one-on-one opportunity with Olsen but it was later called off-side by the linesman. Minutes later, he got a golden chance to double the lead but failed to beat Olsen. The block set another chance for the City lad but this time around, he sent it over the bar.
Just after resumption, Sweden got their best chance of the game. But a fantastic Marcus Berg header in front of Young on the far post was denied by a quick reflex from Pickford.
England heaped more pressure on Sweden in the set-pieces and Maguire, in the 54th minute, headed the ball across the goal twice but found no support on each occasion.
At the hour-mark, the Three Lions got their second goal from another header. This time it was Alli, criticised in the last few days for his ineffective performances. He was set up nicely by Jesse Lingard inside the left side of the box.
Sweden came close to scoring several times but a lack of good finishing hurt the men in yellow and blue. Following a wonderful build-up inside the box by Ola Toivonen and Berg, it was nicely set up for Claesson, whose attempt from close range was saved by a desperate Pickford in the 62nd minute. Ten minutes later, substitute John Guidetti sent a dangerous ball to Berg but this time as well Pickford was there to thwart Sweden.