England stormed into the semi-finals of the IFCPF World Cup on Sunday evening after a 4-2 victory over USA in Seville.
Andy Smith’s Para Lions came out on top in a thrilling game, with a seven-minute hat-trick from captain Matt Crossen in the second half helping to set up a last-four clash with Russia as they bid to improve on their fourth-place finish in 2017.
England had to show their character too, as despite having the majority of possession and many chances in the early stages, it was the Americans who found themselves 1-0 up inside 16 minutes when a scramble in the box led to a close-range finish from Cameron DeLillo.
The Para Lions finally got their long-awaited breakthrough after 23 minutes though, when Michael Barker stepped up from the penalty spot to equalise. He’s certainly making a name for himself from 12 yards!
Smith’s team continued to dominate possession and had numerous opportunities but it remained level at the break, to leave a big 30 minutes ahead for both nations.
And England’s dominance finally saw them go 2-1 up, thanks to a lovely finish on the angle from Crossen 41 minutes in.
Two minutes later, Crossen then took the ball from his own half before driving a shot into the net, a wonderful solo effort, to extend the Para Lions' lead to 3-1.
Yes, you guessed it, the captain then completed his hat-trick with another individual effort in the 48th minute to put England in the driving seat.
The Americans weren’t going to go down without a fight though, and a brilliant free-kick from Shea Hammond saw them pull a goal back just six minutes from normal time to give them some hope.
But it was that superb second-half display which secured England’s passage into the semi-finals, where they will now play Russia on Tuesday evening (8.10pm kick-off).
England: 1 Giles Moore, 2 Liam Irons, 6 Matt Crossen (c), 7 Michael Barker, 8 Dale Smith, 10 David Porcher, 12 Matthew Robinson
Subs: 3 Harry Baker for Robinson 57, 11 Jordan Twiss for Smith 51
Subs not used: 4 Martin Sinclair, 5 Karl Townshend, 9 George Fletcher, 13 Reagan McMillan, 14 Ethan Stone
Head coach: Andy SmithFIND OUT MORE ABOUT PARA FOOTBALL IN ENGLAND