I have just returned home to Devon. On Saturday I was up in the midlands seeing my son who graduated this weekend. Great timing eh? Actually it was perfect! The festivities finished at 2.45pm so we were able to leg it round to his digs to see the game.
England turned out an unchanged team, which was a little surprising as a number of knocks were reported. However that consistency seems to be helping the side. After a bit of a scrappy start, the Swedes got an early chance but it came to nothing.
England started to build a bit of pressure with some good moves started in their own half. Trippier and Stirling seemed to really worrying the Swedish back four. Then on 30 minutes, England won a corner. Young delivered a superb cross which Harry powered in via his head. Not not that Harry, the other one! Maguire moved really well to create space to enable him to head the ball sweetly in for his first England goal. 1-0 England! Apparently Maguire is the first player to score his first England goal in a World Cup knock out game, since Rio Ferdinand in 2002 who scored against Denmark.
Not long after, Henderson put a brilliant ball through for Stirling who controlled the ball, but the keeper managed to smother it and although Stirling got a second half chance, he couldn’t extend the lead. England finished the half strongly, seemingly having the measure of the Swedish defence.
The Swedes started the second half stronger, really they had no choice if they wanted to get back into the game. Pickford had to make a superb one handed save from Berg to keep the scores level. However England slowly started to build momentum again. Kane was fouled and Young delivered a great cross Maguire hit the ball across with his head but England couldn’t capitalise. England were now building pressure again and looked the most likely to score.
Just after the above chance, England passed the ball looking for the opening and it eventually came to Trippier, (my man of the match), who put a superb cross in which found Ali who headed the ball in just before the hour mark. England were now 2-0 up and in control.
In Croydon, they went nuts. Who can afford to through beer around – TWICE!
However give Sweden credit, they came back and not long after the second goal, Berg had another great chance, but again Pickford saved using one hand, this time the other way.
England then broke again and won a corner the ball bounced around and eventually fell to Maguire who had a clear shot at goal and he blazed it over. THEN Berg again had another chance, this time Pickford tipped it over the bar. (Is this the goalkeeping equivalent to a hatrick?!)
It was end to end. Sweden did win a free kick on the edge of the box but it sailed high over the bar. Right at the end England broke again, but this time they kept the ball and this time the ref blew and England we in the Semi-finals! Cue pandemonium in my son’s house.
Keiran Trippier was brilliant, however Stirling, Young, Henderson and Pickford all played well too. Pickford’s saves kept our first clean sheet in the competition.
So now we have to prepare for Wednesday’s game against Croatia, who knocked Russia out on penalties.)
There are no easy games now, however when you get this far, anything can happen.
It’s coming home!