De Futebol England Wins! Up Next the Semifinals of The World Cup!

England is on to the semifinals of the World Cup. Three Lions shutout Sweden 2-0. Goals by Harry Maguire header in the 30th minute and the stake in the heart of Sweden by Dele Alli noodled home the winner in the 58th minute pushed England to the semifinals of the World Cup semifinals for the first time since 1990.

The Daily Mail:”It didn’t have anything like the drama of the Colombian shoot-out, nor was it quite the spectacle when an England team beat Cameroon at this stage in 1990. And it was nowhere near as controversial as their progression from the quarter finals against Argentina in 1966,

But make no mistake. In the Samara Arena, situated on the banks of the River Volga in a far-flung corner of the sprawling Russian Motherland, an England team made history.

Few gave them any serious chance when they left for Russia last month. Now they will contest a World Cup semi final on Wednesday night in Moscow. It will be only the third time they have done so since England deigned to appear at this tournament in 1950.

A young team which seemed devoid of real ego or heavyweight stars a month ago will now forever go down as one of the best.

Gareth Southgate, a seemingly unassuming man yet deceptively determined, who was parachuted into this job amidst chaos twenty-two months ago, will join Sir Bobby Robson as the only Englishman to guide a team to this stage of the World Cup in foreign territory.

What is truly enticing is the realistic prospect that he might go one better than Sir Bobby, a man who would visit him when he was struggling to find his feet at Middlesbrough manager. He has come a long way since then, Southgate, as he bestrides the world stage now.

His team have travelled far too, scaling previously unimagined heights. Harry Kane, of course, has been the breaththough act though this wasn’t so much his day.

But Harry Maguire is a secret no more. The world is awake to his talents, which go far beyond his headed goal. And Jordan Pickford has grown, figuratively if not literally in this tournament. He may always be 6’1” but his riposte to Thibaut Courtois questions about his height have been perfectly timed.

Sweden were extraordinarily limited and initially unambitious and yet it still took three wonderful saves from Pickford to get England over the line. And that the game was devoid of tension by the end, virtually a stroll, was a credit to the goalkeeper.

Of course, all should share credit. Though Sweden were poor, they are a team that has disposed of Holland and Italy in qualifying and who got rid of Germany from the group stages.

England managers have been photoshopped into turnips by Swedes before now so the fact that this team made light work of this fixture was a testament to their mental strength.

That said, England started tentatively, like they were suffering from a collective brain freeze form the magnitude of the occasion and the failure of an opponent to engage. The early passes from Ashley Young and Dele Alli betrayed the nerves which seemed to be suffocating England.

There was no high press, nor panache. At times the game resembled a pre-season Championship friendly, with the Brazilians presumably bemused that one of these teams would be contesting a semi final and they wouldn’t.

It took 19 minutes for England to find their feet with Keiran Trippier playing nicely out from the back and finding Raheem Sterling. Suddenly Sterling was accelerating away, an injection of energy into a soporific occasion. He beat his man and then went past Sebastian Larsson and, with a shooting chance opening up, ran into Harry Kane and ceded the shot to him, the England captain shooting wide from the edge of the box.

It was an least a sign of life. Ashley Young started beating Emil Krafth down the left and on 23 minutes a move starting with Jordan Pickford found its way via Young and Kane to Sterling again, whose striker brought hopeful shouts for a handball against Emil Forsberg.

Referee Bjorn Kuipers rightfully ignored that but it was the first real sign of England’s ability to play with fluidity and pace from the back. Until then, Sterling apart, no-one had moved with anything like the urgency required to unsettle Sweden.

That said, it took a familiar route for England finally to break Swedish resistance. Their first corner kick award on 32 minutes saw Young tee it up and the usual suspects of Harry Maguire, John Stones, Jordan Henderson and Kane amassed at the back of the box.

The only variation in England’s routines was that Dele and Sterling joined them initially. As Young struck the ball, they all scattered and it was enough to confuse Sweden because, in the melee, Maguire was lost, He spun away and his eyes never left the ball. Poor Forsberg was left trying to out-jump him but it was vain task. Maguire rose, connected with his head directed the ball firmly home with a magnificent header.

It didn’t quite bring the release for which England yearned but there was a better finish to the half with Sterling twice breaking free.

On the first occasion, he was offside but when Henderson lifted the ball through on 45 minutes, he sprinted free and took a great touch down. Only the alert reactions of Robin Olsen in goal stopped him skipping round the keeper. By the time Sterling then had to turn to shoot, the familiar figure of Andreas Granqvist was there to block.

Still, these were hopeful signs.

Nevertheless it was Sweden who presented the first sign of danger in the second half. Ludwig Augustinsson swung in an excellent cross on 47 minutes and Marcus Berg rose above Young and directed his header goalwards. Only the excellence of Pickford leaping to his left prevented an equaliser and a Swedish revival.

It was an apposite warning. But also wholly out of character for the game up to that point. England were establishing a foothold. Young’s free kick on 52 minutes found Maguire at the back post – the default England set piece – and his header across was met with spectacular if imperfectly-executed bicycle kick by Sterling.

But there was a patience to England’s play and a degree more craft. So when Trippier had the chance to swing another cross in on 58 minutes he instead opted for a more subtle cut back to Lingard.


He, in turn, dinked the ball over the Swedish defence and there was that run from Dele Alli that Southgate has been so keen to unleash. No Swede had picked him up so his was a fairly simple task to head home. Half the team celebrated with Dele and, fittingly, half with Lingard whose cross was so precise.

Sweden had been so limited and unadventurous that it seemed as though the game might have been won in that moment.

Yet within minutes of the re-start, Sweden were breaking down the left and when Berg touched the ball back to Viktor Claesson a goal seemed inevitable, He struck it well enough but Pickford produced another outstanding save, down to his left to parry away.

Sweden, their World Cup slipping away, had sprung into life When Claesson burst down the left on 72 minutes and crossed for Berg, the centre forward took a touch and struck a rising shot which Pickford again met superbly, touching it over.

It was save that would break Sweden, never again would they truly threaten.

Their race was run. England’s, thrillingly and unimaginably, is far from done.

De Futebol England Advance on a 4-3 Nail Biting PK Shootout! Sweden shocks Switzerland 1-0!

England and Colombia engaged in one of those knock down drag out brawls. Three Lions advanced to the quarterfinals of the World Cup on a 4-3 PK shootout win.

Sweden pulled the upset city special a 1-0 win over Switzerland.

England-Sweden will duke it out in the quarterfinals.

The Daily Mail:” When it came down to that last one, when England were one penalty kick away from a World Cup quarter-final, we peered, a nation anxious to see who would step forward from the pack.

Jamie Vardy, who takes them for Leicester, was unused. Jesse Lingard had apparently been banging them in during practice. Walking towards the end lousy and noisy with yellow shirts …Eric Dier.

Dier, a defensive midfielder or centre-half, fifth at best in the penalty ranks at his club, Tottenham. Dier, ordinary against Belgium in his only start of the tournament. Dier, who had a pass completion rate of less than 25 per cent in his first 24 minutes on the field here.

Dier? Anchor man penalty taker? Dier? Have we taken leave of our senses? Apparently not. Gareth Southgate, more than any England manager, knows the agony of the shoot-out. That was one of the reasons he had his squad going through the routine, day after day, in training. With hindsight, why did we ever doubt?

If Dier was the man to hold his nerve, there must be reason, some numbers, some profiling to back that up. Now let’s be truthful. It wasn’t the cleanest. A bit scuffed and Ospina got a hand to it. But not enough.

There it was, in the net. There England were: in the quarter-finals. And all down to penalties. Not just the shoot-out, but the one Harry Kane scored that should have put England through in normal time. The penalty that took what seemed like forever.

Southgate is coming off like Yoda at this World Cup. Even when he loses, he wins. And when Dier nailed that winning penalty, he became the only England manager ever to emerge victorious from a shoot-out at a World Cup. Considering his back story, this was redemption.

Three penalty finales, three defeats: that had been England’s story until now. From here, whatever this competition holds for this young side, there will be the belief they can cope. Even if it goes to penalties; especially if it goes to penalties. The Germans went home at the group stage, and England have started winning shoot-outs. From here, pretty much anything can happen.

This is a moment in time; a moment when the cards are falling England’s way. Sweden are a well-organised team that defeated Italy in a play-off, then battled their way out of Germany’s group and through a knock-out game with Switzerland. So respect is due.

Yet, it cannot be forgotten that at the quarter-final stage it was envisaged England might meet one of either Brazil or Germany and would then go home – if they even got that far. A match-up with Sweden for a place in the last four? Come on, an opportunity like this may never open again. At worst, England have a puncher’s chance; at best – well, better not to even go there.

When Jordan Henderson’s third penalty of the shoot-out was saved by Ospina, it looked as if Southgate’s group were about to embark on a familiar path, the nation the same. More torture; more heartbreak; more wry songs making light of pain and hurt, to mask how we really feel.

But this night was different. Mateus Uribe and Carlos Bacca missed for Colombia; Kieran Trippier scored for England and suddenly victory was a shot away. Yet here’s the bizarre thing. It might not even have been the most nerve-shredding penalty of the night. At least Dier got his over quickly.

Three minutes and 31 seconds. Three minutes and 31 seconds was the time between the foul on Harry Kane in the 54th minute, and the moment he put the ball past Ospina to give England the lead.

That is a lot of time for a young man to think. Not about himself, for in these moments, individual awards such as a World Cup Golden Boot are a trifle. This was time to think about his team-mates, his country, everyone whose kindness and guidance had brought him to this point.

About the nation watching, at home. About kids in school looking up to him. And yes, it’s only a game of football. But for three minutes and 31 seconds it must have felt like the world.

In the time elapsed between referee Mark Geiger pointing to the spot, and Kane converting the penalty that should have brought England victory in normal time, Kane must have tried to disappear into his little bubble of familiarity. Tried but, probably, failed. Mayhem was unfolding around him.

Colombia appeared to regard the award as the start of a symposium, as if the whistle and the pointing gesture were merely the prelude to an opening address by several players. Henderson, normally so cool, was shown a yellow card for flicking his head backwards towards an opponent who was particularly persistent in his attention. He made no contact, but it’s the thought that counts.

Finally, Kane stood over the ball, with only goalkeeper Ospina in his path. Just as it was with Dier: Tottenham versus Arsenal, played out on the world stage. Kane has always loved that fixture. He waited for Ospina to make his move – to the left – and struck it straight down the middle, his sixth goal of the tournament, equalling Gary Lineker’s total for England at Mexico in 1986.

He has now scored in six games straight for his country. The last to do that was Tommy Lawton in 1939. Kane feels a little Lawton-like, a little old school, a bit of a throwback. But Lawton never knew pressure like this for his country. He never did three minutes and 31 seconds, with the nation at a standstill, heart in mouth.

And there was no let-up, no respite from there. One-nil isn’t a lead anyone is happy with going into the final ten minutes of a World Cup knock-out game. Better than trailing, of course. Better than shipping fo ur as England did to Germany at this stage in 2010 – but not good for the nerves.

When Kyle Walker gave the ball away and Colombia broke in the 81st minute, there would have been a collective national scream. Juan Quintero fed Juan Cuadrado on the overlap – one of those Colombians with a score to settle against the English game – but his shot was snatched and flew over.

Changes were made, the tension increased. It felt as if it was happening. The chance of lifetime. Almost too much to bear: and then it was snatched away, as every England fan feared.

Uribe hit a shot from range that Jordan Pickford tipped wide magnificently. A Colombian corner. England could handle those, surely. Up came Ospina, against the judgement of the bench – particularly when Colombia have players the size of Yerry Mina on hand.

He was the target, and he was the man the corner found. He outjumped Harry Maguire and headed the ball down. It reared up and was misjudged by Trippier on the line, his header only helping it on his way. Colombia were level, against the odds. Yet for England it felt painfully familiar. In the first-half of extra time it looked as if there would only be one winner: and it wasn’t the team in red.

Yet justice, over the full expanse of the game, prevailed. Colombia’s Wilmar Barrios was very lucky not to be dismissed for a butt on Henderson just before half-time. Geiger showed him a yellow card, probably the first time that has been considered the correct punishment for such an offence.

As they left the field for half-time, Barrios shook Geiger’s hand, and thanked him. A Colombian coach deliberately shoulder barged Raheem Sterling. It was a rather unpleasant scene and England were sucked into it at times. Colombian players made a meal of every challenge, but then Maguire dived, too. He could easily have been booked had Geiger spotted that.

Cameos from the shoot out? Well, Pickford’s save from Bacca obviously – and Marcus Rashford’s penalty. He has never taken one at senior level but he was second up here, England 2-1 down, smashing the ball left as if he was messing about with his mates. Credit Southgate’s influence there, too. This is a rare spirit England’s manager has engendered. Where it will take him from here, we can only dare to imagine.