England makes semi-finals: Southgate praise for prototype Pickford

Sergio Cunningham
July 8, 2018

England will face Croatia in the semi-final in Moscow on Wednesday in what will be their first appearance in the last four of the World Cup since 1990 .

Croatia now await in just England's third-ever World Cup semi-final, with headers either side of half-time by Maguire and Alli securing a comfortable 2-0 quarter-final win against surprise package Sweden.

Harry Maguire opened the scoring for England - heading the ball home from an Ashley Young corner half an hour into the game.

In the second half, Sweden looked risky as England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was forced to produce a stunning save after Marcus Berg's towering header looked destined for the back of the net.

Mikael Lustig's absence was notable in the Swedish defence that, for the first time at this World Cup, had troubles in the air. "We looked like we controlled the game".

Forward Raheem Sterling has faced some criticism over his struggles to score for England and just before halftime his doubters were handed ammunition when he was twice left alone to bear down on Sweden keeper Robin Olsen.

England sent in some crosses after but those signs of life were fleeting as Sweden's resolute team shape strangled a side sloppy in possession.

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Belgium will need their wing backs to be operating at full tilt if they are to get back and assist. He said: "Everybody knows Didier Drogba is a bit of a big brother to me".

With all this in mind, it was inevitable that the man chosen to oversee England's next game would be under a little more scrutiny than is usually expected. "I have the greatest respect for them, and congratulations to England".

Sterling got hold of the loose ball but his shot was deflected over.Sterling's movement was very good, though, causing Sweden's slow defense problems throughout. It was England's eighth set-piece goal of its 11 in Russian Federation, and the center back's first in worldwide soccer.

England's match against Sweden is their biggest since their last World Cup quarter-final twelve years ago, against Portugal at Germany 2006.

'I am not sure anything went wrong, as such, ' he said. I don't feel this was my best performance on the pitch but for the team and the country to be in a semi-final is awesome.

In 20 years" time, your kids/grandkids are going to turn to you and ask: "Where were you when England made it to the semi-finals of the World Cup?'

David Baddiel - the man who sings the second verse of the adopted national anthem - gave us a massive build-up. "We worked on that in training so credit to the staff".

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