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World Cup: England reach the semi-finals for the first time since 1990 after comfortable win over Sweden

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It has been 28 years since England performed this well at the World Cup, with Southgate’s side having sailed through the qualifying and knockout stages to reach the semi-finals.

England’s 2-0 victory over Sweden has meant the Three Lions will now move on to face Croatia on Wednesday.

With the final images of England manager, Gareth Southgate, orchestrating the fans version of Atomic Kittens ‘Whole Again’, it suddenly dawned on the entire country that the Three Lions was now one of the last four teams in the competition.

The entire game saw a relatively comfortable England side who dominated possession and consistently created chances, despite the match's dying moments where goalkeeper Jordan Pickford faced a few tests.

England took the lead at the half-hour mark when Harry Maguire’s expertly placed header sailed past the hands of Swedish keeper, Robin Olsen. The goal was Maguire’s first at an international level, marking a significant change from watching Euro 2016 with his friends to now scoring at the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

England has now scored five goals from set pieces at the World Cup, more than any other team in the competition. Southgate’s tactical brilliance in set pieces has edged the Three Lions attacking play into an incredibly dangerous threat, with future opponents surely looking to avoid these chances at all costs.

Sweden did have a sniff at the goal in the first half when Marcus Berg fired in a shot from outside the box, however, Pickford made an exceptional save that saw him lift the ball over the crossbar and out of danger.

As half-time drew in, the country felt comfortable. England was performing very well and even boasted a goal’s advantage, Southgate, however, would not have felt so sure. 

Memories of England’s 2-1 defeat to Iceland still hang in the air, and the England boss looked keen to double the lead to assure their victory.

The goal did not take long to come to fruition. Jesse Lingard placed a beautiful cross into the Swedish box, where Dele Ali got his head behind the delivery to bring the Three Lions up to 2-0.

With the Swedes on the back foot, England looked set to carry out the win. Their dominance was finally tested when Viktor Claesson’s flurry of chances inside the English box were all halted by England’s number 1, deservedly earning him the title ‘man of the match’.

Raheem Sterling has faced hefty amounts of criticism for failing to score from two clear-cut chances, but his sheer pace and dominance behind the ball was an undeniable threat to the Swedes, creating many more chances than ones he missed.

As the final whistle was blown, with the Swede’s graciously accepting defeat, elation and disbelief filled the English camp. It has been nearly three decades since England has reached this far in the competition, with Southgate’s poise and tactics being the Three Lion’s saving grace.

England will now face Croatia in the semi-finals after they defeated the tournament's hosts in penalties.

The winners of the match will then come up against either Belgium or France in the final in Moscow. 

Media Credit - Flickr Commons, Steve Johnson. Twitter. FIFA. 

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