England vs Sweden Match Review and Result: World Cup 2018 Round of 8 clash: Samara Arena – July 7, 2018
England vs Sweden Result: England 2, Sweden 0
England made it to the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time after WC Italy 1990 by beating Sweden 2-0 at the Samara Arena on Saturday.
Unlike their previous games where they set off on a quick tempo and took the game to their opponents, the English labored a little to settle in until they got their first goal in the 30th minute. It was Harry Maguire who gave the Three Lions control.
The 25-year old Leicester City back powered England ahead with a magnificent long-range header from a Ashley Young corner that left the Swedish goalkeeper Robin Olsen stranded to the spot.
Once the equalizer came, there were only fleeting moments when the Three Lions looked to be in any danger.
Gareth Southgate's decision to bring in Deli Alli in place of his Tottenham Hotspur team-mate Eric Dier paid off handsomely. Alli had missed the games against Panama and Belgium after sustaining a thigh injury in the opener against Tunisia. The 22-year old Spurs forward vindicated his inclusion into the side by getting Three Lions' their second goal of the match with a well-directed header to the far post from a Jesse Lingard cross. England had more than one chance to add to their tally with opportunities coming the way of Raheem Sterling and a rather subdued Harry Kane.
Sweden weren't exactly taking things lying down. They threatened to come to even terms in the second half, but a couple of sensational saves in the second half by goalkeeper Jordan Pickford off a Marcus Berg header and a Viktor Claesson scorcher deprived the Swedish from narrowing the deficit. No wonder the Everton custodian was adjudged Man of the Match by critics.
This was England's first clean sheet of the tournament and apart from the Panama game, the first in which they didn't feel pinned back by opponents for concerted periods.
The Three Lions had 58 per cent of the possession and made 12 attempts on the goal compared to their opponents' six. Their only two shots on targets materialized into goals. England now have 11 goals in the tournament, which equals their tally when they won the World Cup in 1966.
The Three Lions now look an increasingly confident side going ahead, even prompting Sweden coach Janne Andersson to say ” They are a forceful and well organised side who did not give a lot of openings. England are absolutely good enough to win the World Cup”
As for Sweden, the England game was their most disappointing one in Russia, but the quarter-final entry was the best show the Scandinavians put up since coming third in the USA 1994 World Cup.
Southgate's boys now head to the Last four where they meet Croatia who were made to grovel in their win over Russia at Fisht Olympic Stadium in a match that went into penalty shoot-outs.