FIFA World Cup 2018: England reach semis for the first time in 28 years

Jul 08, 2018, 11:36 IST | Simon Peach

Harry Maguire's first international goal and Dele Alli's header take Harry Kane & Co into World Cup semis for the first time in 28 years

FIFA World Cup 2018: England reach semis for the first time in 28 years
Harry Maguire is ecstatic after scoring England's opening goal against Sweden in Samara on Saturday. Pics/Getty Images, PTI

England are in dreamland after making it through to their first World Cup semi-final in 28 years thanks to goals from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli against stoic Sweden. Days after laying their penalty ghosts to rest against Colombia, Gareth Southgate's men diligently went about their job to continue this extraordinary summer and bring the fantasy of replicating the heroes of 1966 closer to reality.

Headers either side of half-time by Maguire and Alli secured a comfortable 2-0 quarter-final win against surprise package Sweden. The Three Lions followed manager Southgate's advice to grab the chance of a lifetime and produced an industrious display that made a mockery of Swedish quips about entitlement in the build-up. Maguire epitomises the graft this squad have put in over the years and headed home his first international goal after 30 minutes, continuing his rapid ascent from fan in France at Euro 2016 to England hero in Russia.

Sweden's Emil Krafth expresses his dejection as England's Dele Alli (right) celebrates his goal with teammates in Samara on Saturday
Sweden's Emil Krafth expresses his dejection as England's Dele Alli (right) celebrates his goal with teammates in Samara on Saturday

Alli has also come up the hard way and helped put a frustrating tournament behind him by wrapping things up after teammate Raheem Sterling wasted chances and Jordan Pickford superbly denied Sweden's Marcus Berg. Fresh from his heroics in Tuesday's shootout, the goalkeeper's latest fine display helped England keep their first clean sheet of the tournament as this band of brothers reached the semi-final without incurring a suspension or any real injury concerns. It was a mature display after the 120-minute slog against Colombia, with Southgate plumping for an unchanged side on an afternoon when those exertions initially took their toll.

Four
Harry Maguire becomes the fourth player to score his first England goal in a World Cup knockout match

22y 87d
Dele Alli's age, making him the second youngest player to score a World Cup goal for England, after Michael Owen (18 yrs 190 days v Romania in 1998)

Sweden team affected by hotel fire alarm
England's World Cup quarter-final opponents Sweden had a surprise early wake-up call when a fire alarm went off at their luxury hotel on Saturday morning. Hours before the Scandinavian side faced England, they were forced to evacuate their rooms at the five-star Lotte Hotel, in central Samara, at around 8 am. The Swedish stars, including midfielder Seb Larsson, were said to be looking tired in the lobby after the false alarm.

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