World Cup: England beat Sweden to reach semi-finals, Gareth Southgate parties with fans | Football | Sport

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Harry Maguire and Dele Alli struck either side of half-time, both with headers, as nerveless England coasted to a routine 2-0 win.

Gareth Southgate’s side will now face Croatia in Moscow on Wednesday at 7pm.

It’s only the third time England have reached the last four and their first since Italia 90 they have made the semis.

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Boss Southgate punched the air at the final whistle and conducted the England fans in a rendition of his own song, to the tune of Atomic Kitten’s smash hit Whole Again, in joyous scenes after.

Southgate promised to take things one step at a time as he bids to bring football home.

“We will enjoy tonight, I hope everybody at home enjoys tonight because as we know, it is not very often that it has happened,” he said.

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World Cup: Gareth Southgate celebrates with England fans at the final whistle

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World Cup: Gareth Southgate celebrates with England fans at the final whistle

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World Cup: England’s travelling supporters celebrate the win over Sweden

“All I know is the managers who have got to semi-finals (with England) are ones I hugely respect and to be involved at this stage with England now is an incredible feeling.

He then paid tribute to his players and said: “I cant speak highly enough of the whole squad and whole group of staff because it is so united in there.

“The level of work has been great and their commitment to each other, you don’t get through with just 11 players. They are all top people and are the reason we are in the semi-final just as much as any other.”

England’s tally of 11 goals equals that set at the 1966 World Cup, which they won as hosts.

Captain Harry Kane, who leads the race for the 2018 Golden Boot with six goals, is determined not to get carried away.

“We know there is still a big game ahead with the semi-final, but we are feeling good and confident,” the Tottenham forward said on BBC One.

“We just have to go again, keep doing what we are doing and make the country proud.”

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World Cup: Gareth Southgate soaks up the atmosphere after England beat Sweden

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World Cup: Lewis Hamilton celebrates England’s win over Sweden

Kane added: “So much preparation went into it and I thought we were fantastic today.

“It was a difficult game, Sweden made it tough – long balls, different to what we have faced so far.”

While goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, who made some important saves as Sweden rallied in the second half, felt England had shown a mental strength to progress.

“We knew it was going to be difficult and what they bring to the party, and we managed it very well,” he said.

“It just showed how our ability is coming out and also the mental part of our game.

“We can go and create our own history, but now it is about rest and recovery for the next game.

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Dele Alli nodded England into a 2-0 lead over Sweden

“It is not going to be easy, but we will work hard enough and our ability should show.”

Before England’s second, Sweden missed a golden opportunity to level right after the restart but Pickford, who was named man of the match, made an outstanding save, palming Marcus Berg’s close-range header away.

He denied the Swedes several more times in the second half and was praised by their coach Janne Andersson.

“The (England) keeper made great saves yet again. You have to respect you are faced with a good keeper,” Andersson said.

“England are absolutely good enough to win the World Cup. They are forceful and well organised. Congratulations to both the team and the coach. They are a good side, who did not give a lot of openings.”

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Harry Maguire scored the first in England’s 2-0 win over Sweden

At Wimbledon, fans broke into a “football’s coming home” chant at Wimbledon after learning of England’s opening goal against Sweden – and celebrated again at the final whistle.

Simona Halep’s match against Hsieh Su-wei had just finished when Harry Maguire headed England ahead, prompting some spectators to burst into song in the Court One stands.

There were then loud cheers on Centre Court when the World Cup match ended in Samara, which came just after Angelique Kerber’s match with Naomi Osaka had reached a conclusion.

But England’s appearance in their first World Cup quarter-final since 2006 otherwise hardly registered at the home of tennis.

Wimbledon chiefs once again stuck to their guns, refusing to show the football on the big screen in front of Henman Hill.

A smattering of people in England shirts were on the hill among the thousands watching Rafael Nadal’s win over Alex De Minaur on the screen.

Over on Court 14 a man sporting a retro 1982 England shirt stared at his phone while his companions watched the men’s doubles.

Sir Bobby Charlton, an England World Cup hero of 1966, was in the Royal Box throughout, watching Nadal’s match and Kerber’s win.

Nadal came off Centre Court at around 3.20pm, and admitted afterwards: “I am excited to watch some football, and to see if it is coming home or not.”

The Spaniard did not hold his media conference until around 4.50pm, once England were assured of victory.

Wimbledon’s policy of not showing the football did not extend to the media centre, where some journalists kept an eye on the World Cup action.

Window blinds were closed to prevent fans peering in to watch.

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England fans celebrate wildly after the win over Sweden

BIG MATCH VERDICT – from Richard Tanner in Samara

Two summer ago Harry Maguire was supping pints and singing songs in the bars of France with his mates form Sheffield as England flopped in 2016.

The big defender – then with Hull in the Championship – could not have dreamed then that he would be the toast of the country as he set the Three Lions on the way to their first World Cup semi-final in 28 years and fuelled the belief that it really is coming home.

Alan Shearer said before the game this was a career-defining, life-changing moment for England’s players.

After all, England have only ever progressed past the last eight stage only TWICE in their 14 World Cup finals tournaments.

Now Maguire’s first international goal will be remembered just like Geoff Hurst’s winner in the 1966 quarter-final against Argentina and Gary Lineker’s two penalties and David Platt’s headed against Cameroon in 1990.

And it could not have been better timed as England had laboured to break down a negative Swedish team that set out as if they were happy to take it to penalties.

Inevitably, it came from another well-worked England set-piece – that’s nine out of 11 goals so far stemming from set-plays.

No wonder they call him “Slab Head.” With his team-mates making decoy runs all over the box, there was no stopping Maguire as he got the run on Emil Forsberg and planted a thumping header into the corner of the net.

Quite part from giving Gareth Southgate’s team the lead, it gave them the confidence to stamp their superiority on an average Swedish team.

Player for player, England knew they were better than Janne Andersson’s workmanlike but didn’t seem to believe it for the first half an hour.

But after Maguire’s goal they were a team transformed. They should have been two-up but for Raheem Sterling’s continuing hesitation in front of goal.

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World Cup: Harry Maguire celebrates after helping into into the World Cup semis

The worry for England was that in all their four previous tournament clashes with Sweden they had always thrown away the lead. And but for Jordan Pickford’s save from Marcus Berg’s header early in the second half it might have happened again.

Even when Dele Alli gave England the cushion of a two-goal lead with another header, this time from Jesse Lingard’s cross, England needed Pickford to twice deny the Swedes.

Apart from those two scares though England were in control as they secured last four clash with Croatia in Moscow’s Luznicki Stadium on Wednesday.

If they get through that one – and who would bet against it now – they will book their place in the same stadium four days later and be right on the brink of ending 52 years of hurt.

They also did the world a favour as they buried their bogey team. Sweden might have beautiful women but their football is ugly.

The city of Samara built the Soviet rockets in the space race days of the 1960sa nd the impressive Cosmos stadium here is designed like a huge flying saucer, a homage to the space-age heritage.

It’s fair to say that Southgate’s rocket men had stars in their eyes last night as the country went into orbit.

England star Harry Maguire celebrates the winGETTY

England star Harry Maguire celebrates the win

Never mind coming home, England are heading over the moon.

England reached the World Cup semi-final for the first time since Italia 90 as Harry Maguire and Dele Alli struck either side of the interval to beat Sweden in Samara.

Gareth Southgate’s side will now face Croatia in Moscow on Wednesday after overcoming a stubborn Sweden challenge in this quarter-final, with help from a magnificent display by goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

Croatia beat Russia this evening following a thrilling penalty shoot-out.

It finished 2-2 after extra-time, with Croatia winning on penalties to stun the host nation.

England’s semi-final clash against Croatia will be shown on both BBC and ITV on Wednesday (7pm kick-off).



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