Jordan Pickford was in inspired form as England beat Sweden 2-0 thanks to goals from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli to book their berth in the semi-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Saturday night.
The quarter-final got off to a rather sedate start, with Sweden defending deep and in numbers and it took a Harry, albeit not the one you’re thinking of, to break the deadlock with a thumping header in the 30th minute.
Kieran Trippier’s corner came in and Maguire lifted off right next to the penalty spot to register his maiden goal for country and the ‘football’s coming home’ chants started to ring around the Samara Arena.
Sweden hardly made any attempt to trouble Jordan Pickford in the first 45 minutes and could consider themselves lucky for only going into the dressing rooms with a 1-0 deficit.
For Raheem Sterling spurned a golden opportunity to double his side’s lead right at the end when he was one-on-one with the Swedish keeper and at that stage, it looked like England would come to rue that miss in the second-half.
Thanks to Pickford, who made a string of sensational stops, however, England didn’t get cause to revisit that glaring miss by the Manchester City winger.
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The second period made for better viewing for the Swedes were finally taking the game to the Three Lions but with all talent at Gareth Southgate’s disposal, there was always a danger that it would be 2-0 before it became 1-1.
And that’s exactly what happened when Jesse Lingard’s deft dink into the box found Alli and the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder made no mistake to nod in from close range to put the game beyond the reach of the Swedes.
Pickford would be called into action after Alli’s strike but the Everton custodian was in a mood and didn’t let anything get by him on the night to ensure the Three Lions came in sight of their first World Cup title since 1966.
France take on Belgium in the first semi-final on Tuesday, while England will take on the winner of the Croatia-Russia quarter-final (Later on Saturday) on Wednesday.