Harry Maguire and Dele Alli scored headers on either sides of the half as England defeated Sweden 2-0 in the quarter-finals of the World Cup 2018. The result meant the Three Lions qualified for the semi-finals for only just the third time, and for the first time since 1990.
It was a quite a routine win for the 1966 champions, who saw Maguire and goalkeeper Jordan Pickford put an excellent display. As for Sweden, they were just not good enough on the occasion.
Both the teams made a quiet start as they adopted a safe approach. Chances from open play were very limited, so set-piece was very crucial for the two teams. And the first goal came from a corner.
Ashley Young swung a ball into the box from a corner on the left side. The Sweden defense were so engrossed in marking Harry Kane that they allowed acres of space to the 'other Harry'. And Maguire made them punish, hitting a powerful header to give his team the lead.
The rest of the first half went ahead at a slow pace, with England content with their lead and Sweden struggling to create chances. Pickford had nothing to do the whole half, but it changed within the first two minutes in the second half.
A good cross was put in the English box, and Marcus Berg rose the highest to meet the ball with his head. It seemed that will be the equalizer, but Pickford produced a stunning one-handed save.
England woke up from this scare, and again took the attack at the Swedish defense. And the second goal came in the 58th minute. Jesse Lingard played a lovely chipped ball in the box, where Alli made a great run at the far post, and headed the ball past an hapless Robin Olsen.
Sweden tried to reduce the deficit right away Viktor Claesson, but Pickford was at it again with another stunning save. From that moment till the end of the match, England had numerous chances to increase on their lead, but failed.
Their opponents also had another brilliant chance in the 72nd minute, but again saw the England shot-stopper rescue his team.
When the final whistle blew, it was a relief for the England fans and players alike. Finally, after 28 years, the nation had qualified for the semi-finals of a World Cup.