SAMARA Russia (Xinhua) --
England qualified for the semi-finals of the
World Cup for the first time in 28 years on Saturday with a 2-0
win against Sweden thanks to a 30th minute goal from
Harry Maguire and a 59th minute goal from midfielder
Maguire opened the
scoring with a powerful header from a corner taken by the
impressive Kieran Trippier, and the right back was again the
supplier as Ali’s header doubled England’s lead just before the
Pickford also made a telling contribution with three magnificent
saves to deny Viktor Claesson and Marcos Berg as Sweden looked
to get back into the game.
Heroes a plenty in Samara as
England qualify for the
World Cup semifinals for the first time in 28 years
By Paul Giblin SAMARA Russia (Xinhua)
-- The city of Samara, so closely
linked to the Russian space program, has had its share of heroes
over the years and there plenty of the city’s high-rise blocks
with murals of Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space on their
sides. Just for a short time on Saturday, however, Gagarin was
no longer the biggest hero for England fans in Samara and they
could be forgiven for thinking a painting of Harry Maguire would
very nice on the side of one of those buildings.
Maguire rose like
the Soyuz rocket that stands in the main street of Samara to
power Kieran Trippier’s corner into the Swedish net after half
an hour to open the scoring as England beat Sweden 2-0 to
qualify for the semifinals of the World Cup for the first time
England have other
candidates for a mural: goalkeeper Jordan Pickford built on his
penalty save against Colombia with 3 vital stops to keep the
Swedes at bay, while full back Trippier produced two assists and
Jordan Henderson was both a dynamo and calming influence in
With Dele Ali and
Ashley Young recovered from slight physical issues during the
week, England named an unchanged side, while Emil Krafth
replaced the suspended Mikael Lustig for Sweden and Seb Larsson
returned after suspension.
The game got off to
a cagey start with Sweden’s 4-4-2 setup closing down spaces in
midfield, while England’s timid probing for a way through wasn’t
helped by some wayward passes, with Dele Ali too often the
It wasn’t until the
19th minute that England created a chance as Raheem
Sterling’s run from halfway set up Kane to fire narrowly wide
from 25 yards, shortly before Trippier’s low cross was smothered
by Robin Olsen as England appeared to come to life, with the
tricky Sterling and the right back at the heart of their best
Half an hour in
Trippier’s cross was put out for a corner which Maguire headed
powerfully into the net. It was the eighth goal England have
scored from a set piece in the tournament.
Sterling should have
increased England’s lead after finding space behind the Swedish
defense, but Olsen got down well to force him wide.
Sweden had created
nothing in the first half, but it needed a fine save from
Pickford to stop Marcus Berg’s powerful header in the first
minute after the break. It was a huge moment; England breathed
again and resumed control.
In the 59th
minute a patient move ended with Trippier crossing from the
right and Ali peeled off at the far post to plant a powerful
header past Olsen to make it 2-0.
Then it was
Pickford’s turn with another stunning save to deny Claesson as
Sweden looked certain to score, before he tipped Berg’s effort
over the bar as England suffered a brief wobble before seeing
the game comfortably over the line.
No room for egos as Southgate’s
‘Band of Brothers’ marches on
By Paul Giblin SAMARA Russia (Xinhua)
-- England captain Harry Kane spoke of
a “band of brothers” when he addressed the press on the eve of
England’s 2-0 win over Sweden in the Samara Arena on Saturday
afternoon. He spoke of a squad of players who will do anything
for each other and who want to work and to learn.
With six goals so
far in the World Cup, Kane is the leader of the England side on
and off the pitch, but on Saturday, although he worked hard and
led the attack intelligently, he wasn’t the hero; England had
plenty of heroes.
One of the
achievements of coach Gareth Southgate is to take a young side
and to give belief in a set of players, some of whom play for
the biggest clubs in the Premier League and others at smaller
Two years ago
central defender Harry Maguire was celebrating helping Hull City
to the Premier League by following England in the 2016 European
Championships, now at Leicester City after suffering relegation
with Hull a year ago, he is on the way to being one of the
players of the tournament.
Pickford, whose save in the penalty shootout against Colombia
changed the fortunes of a generation of England sides, made
three more outstanding saves to keep Sweden at bay in Samara.
A season ago he was
part of a Sunderland side which suffered the heartbreak of
relegation, while his start to this season at Everton was far
from easy as his new club struggled for form.
Meanwhile right back
Kieran Trippier, who came to Russia with barely a handful of
caps, has established himself as a key player in the team: not
just for his pace in defense, but for his countless forward runs
and his crossing.
It was Trippier’s 30th
minute header that Maguire thundered into the net, rising like a
Soyuz rocket to give Robin Olsen no chance and England a vital
opening goal against a side that was giving little away.
Just before the hour
Trippier was again the provider with the cross that saw Dele Ali
double England’s lead.
Others are finding
maturity under Southgate; John Stones hardly put a foot wrong in
central defense where Kyle Walker showed pace and awareness in a
role he doesn’t usually play and Jordan Henderson is mature an
hard working in midfield, providing a perfect foil as Jesse
Lingard flits and probes for openings.
“We are one of the
youngest teams here, but we are an improving side and want to
make history. We are an emerging side, an evolving side: a long
way from perfect,” said England coach Gareth Southgate.
They are also a side
that shows unity, both with each other and also with the fans,
maybe because that unity they show among themselves touches a
chord that recent England sides, aloof and distant and
ultimately underachieving failed to touch.
Fire alarm means
early start for Swedes on quarter-final day
SAMARA Russia (Xinhua) --
Sweden’s preparations for Saturday’s World Cup
quarter-final were interrupted this morning when the fire alarm
went off at their team hotel.
The alarm at the
Lotte hotel in the center of Samara sounded at 8.30 am local
time leading the building and surrounding buildings to be
evacuated and video images show members of the Sweden team and
other guests in the lobby of the building.
It was a false
alarm, which was caused by someone either smoking in their room
or hitting the alarm button by accident, but not the best way to
start preparations on the day of a big match.