- Harry Maguire scores his first international goal to give England lead at 30′
- Dele Alli seals semi-final berth with headed goal at 59′
- They will face Croatia in Semi-final
After a tiring opening half hour, Harry Maguire beat his marker Forsberg and make a powerful header of floated Ashley Young corner to give the Three Lions the lead. Dele doubled England lead when he timed his run at the back post and headed in a cross delivered by Jesse Lingard.
Seven reasons which differentiated both the teams in England vs Sweden match,
- Defensive Football by Sweden: Sweden has nothing new to offer.They barely attempted to attack until they fell two goals down and were make to look ordinary. If England rely on set pieces as much as Sweden, at least Gareth Southgate tried to force the issue with possession and territory. Passive football was punished emphatically. As in case of Portugal and Uruguay too, they depended on defensive, counter attack based football, but eliminated in Round of 16 and Quarter-final respectively. Janne Andersson, Sweden coach might wonder whether a little more direct football might have helped.
- Conviction of Southgate :Throughout this tournament, there have been calls to change the team from pundits who thought that Raheem Sterling, Ashley Young and Alli should all be left out in favour of better options. Southgate continued with his preference of starting XI from opener against Tunisia on 18th June. Despite criticism, he held his trust on his team. Though later two contributed in the score-line, Sterling missed few easy chances. Southgate defended Sterling saying, his runs off the ball that create space for teammates and himself and he is convinced with excellent performance against Sweden. Southgate also assed, “In the last five or six games, with the change of system, he has been key. His movement, his ability to run at teams from deep, his inter-changing of position with the other forward players is very important.”
- England Goalkeeper Pickford: Sweden will reflect on the save that Jordan Pickford made from Marcus Berg’s header at the start of the second half and, though he was needed only sporadically, this was another splendid performance from England’s goalkeeper, showing again that he can handle the big occasion.
Pickford pulled off another brilliant save at 2-0, when Viktor Claesson had the chance to change the complexion of the match. It was England’s first clean sheet of the tournament and there was never a concerted spell when Sweden – willing but limited opponents – managed to pin them back.
- Young England team never run out of Scoring Options: Harry Kane, the leading goal-scorer could not add one in his tally today. He is at 6 and another goal from England’s leading scorer would have meant him Surpassing Paolo Rossi (Italy, 1982), Gary Lineker (England, 1986) and Toto Schillaci (Italy, 1990). But today Harry Maguire and Dele Alli scored to eliminate Sweden. Maguire, who score maiden international goal, had awesome statistics for areal challenges in this World Cup. His beat his marker Emil Forsberg, who is 7 inch shorter, to score the goal. Penalties and corners aside, Kane’s teammates are not creating enough chances for their principal scorer.
- Talent of Current England Team: In comparison, England were the better team here by some distance and deserved the victory. But they were not alone in standing tall. There was John Stones, now a leader in defence, there was Jordan Henderson, controlling midfield and there was Raheem Sterling who may have missed a golden chance but who stretched the Swedes when all they wanted to do was stay compact and grind this out to a closer finish. And there was Kieran Trippier who is a kind of English Cafu with a David Beckham delivery. The young brigade is constantly improving under Southgate.
- Striking ability of Sweden: Sweden suffered as they did not have a genuine striker. Though they looked good till Round of 18, and managed to score through counter-attack, they were exposed against quality opponent. They scored six goals from four matches in World Cup prior to quarter-final, that include two goals from penalty, one own-goal and one deflection. Was Zaltan Ibrahimovic missed?
England could have better scoreline in Quarter-final, if some of England’s better chances had fallen to Kane rather than Raheem Sterling. His first one-on-one with Olsen ended in a late offside flag, but by the time flag was raised he surrendered the opportunity. The second would have made it 2-0 before interval. Though it was largely inconsequential in the end, but this England cannot afford in Semi-final against Croatia.
What comes next? Can they bring it home as they did 52 years ago? England keep getting told they will have to play better but there are now only four countries who can be crowned world champions and they are one of them.