In our first World Cup quarter final since 2006, Gareth’s Southgate's Three Lions showed their teeth, beating Sweden by 2-0 with two magnificent headers from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli and some remarkable saves from Jordan Pickford.
The Swedes have never won a match when they’ve trailed at half time and today was no exception. After a tentative 15 minutes, England quickly found their feet, maintaining composure throughout. Manager Southgate has ensured a strong sense of togetherness, positive team spirit and hard work shone through.
“We knew it was going to be such a different game to Colombia, to come back after having extra time and penalties – the emotion of it, the energy of it – and to have to lift ourselves through, today was a completely different test," he said.
"It’s always a scrappier game against Sweden, they don’t let you play, we had to withstand a lot physical pressure, but the resilience and togetherness of the team today was crucial.
“We knew we’d have the majority of the ball, it was just whether we could break them down, and we’d identified a few areas where we might do that and we got the goals from both of them.
"Yes, they were set plays but we were getting into good areas of the pitch. The Swedes are a really well organised team, they make life really tough and over the years we’ve underestimated them, but today I think our spirit was as good as theirs and our quality was a little bit better.”
England 2 - 0 Sweden
- Harry Maguire and Dele Alli scored
- England now through to the semi-finals
- Next match: Wednesday 7th July at 7pm against Croatia
“We made critical saves at crucial times - a goal at that stage and you’ve got the ball raining in your box probably for the last 20 minutes, so Pickford has been excellent, his distribution today as well has been superb".
“What we’ve said to Dele is that he’s best making the runs he made for the goal. He’s got to get in the box, he’s got to run in behind the forwards, and he can finish. I’m really pleased for him because that’s some drought he’s had for England, but what a good day to finish it!"
“I can’t speak highly enough of the whole squad and the whole group of staff, because it is so united and their level of work and commitment to each other has been great.
"You don’t get through with just 11 players. Some of the guys haven’t had a lot of time on the pitch, but their mentality to training, people like Jones, Cahill and Welbeck are top, top people and they’re as big a reason that we’re in this semi-final as any other.
“I think we’ve approached every game individually, we don’t know who we play yet. Russia in Moscow would be an incredible game to be involved in but let’s see. We’ve enjoyed tonight, I hope everyone back home enjoyed tonight because it’s not very often that this has happened.”
“The managers who have got to semi-finals before are people I hugely respect and to be involved with the team now at this stage is an incredible feeling.”