Reborn England reach World Cup semifinal

Reborn England reach World Cup semifinal
Dele Alli celebrates with his teammates after scoring the match-clinching second goal. (AFP)
Updated 07 July 2018

Reborn England reach World Cup semifinal

Reborn England reach World Cup semifinal
  • Maguire and Alli score for Southgate's side
  • England through to first World Cup semifinal in 28 years

LONDON: England’s stunning resurgence under Gareth Southgate scaled new dizzying heights on Saturday after they charged into the World Cup semifinal for the first time since 1990.
England were rank outsiders for the tournament at the outset, given no chance on the back of their lousy record in knockout football, but they have, slowly and stealthily, gathered momentum and are now just 90 minutes away from their first World Cup final since they thrillingly won the tournament in 1966.
Harry Maguire’s magnificent header after half-an-hour and one from Dele Alli just before the hour won it with something to spare for Southgate’s remodelled and youthful side against Sweden. They now progress to the last-four clash on Wednesday with absolutely nothing to fear. In fact, other teams might start to fear them after this performance. In a World Cup full of surprises, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that England could win the whole thing. Who, after all, thought Greece would win the European Championships in 2004?
Stiffer challenges will await England in the semifinal and possibly the final, but Sweden are no mugs. Let’s be clear about that. They qualified ahead of Holland, beat South Korea and Mexico in their group and then dumped out Switzerland in the last 16. They played the tag of underdogs all week but they never really got to grips with the magnitude of the occasion in Samara and ran out of steam. The direct nature of their play was meat and drink to England’s defenders who are used to this tactic week in, week out in the Premier League.
England were a bit more sophisticated in their approach and could have scored more than the one they did, Raheem Sterling going particularly close in the first half. Sweden had their moments and it took a brilliant, flying one-handed save from Jordan Pickford to stop Marcus Berg from scoring with a header at the start of the second half and Pickford denying the same player again soon after with a save low to his right. It was world-class goalkeeping.
England were just that bit more ruthless in front of goal, Maguire powering in a header from an Ashley Young corner and then Alli planting one in from a Jesse Lingard center.
England needed extra-time and two penalties to beat Cameroon the last time they won a World Cup quarterfinal in 1990. Here they had the whole thing done and dusted after an hour. It was all too easy.