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2018 FIFA World Cup, Quarterfinals
  • Harry Maguire (30')
  • Dele Alli (59')

England reach World Cup semifinal thanks to Harry Maguire and Dele Alli

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Robson: England punished Sweden in wide areas (2:40)

ESPN FC's Stewart Robson examines the keys to England's quarterfinal win over Sweden and sees no reason why they can't reach the World Cup final now. (2:40)

England have reached their first World Cup semifinal since 1990 after goals from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli secured a 2-0 victory over Sweden in Samara.

Gareth Southgate's side now face Croatia, who beat Russia on penalties later in the day, for a place in the final thanks to a comfortable win secured by a goal in each half.

A fast start, but without much discernible pattern, had seen Sweden pressing high to try to stop England playing out from the back.

After seven minutes, England had a glimpse of an opening when Alli tried to feed the ball through to Harry Kane, who had space, but his pass was overhit.

A Sweden free kick from midway inside the England half was too long, and then a long throw into the England area was adjudged to have been handled by Andreas Granqvist.

It was a scrappy, nervy opening in Samara, and when Kyle Walker had a chance to cross, he could only ping the ball into the gloves of keeper Robin Olsen.

Viktor Claesson tried his luck from 30 yards, with Jordan Pickford infuriated that the Sweden player had been given the chance to unleash what turned out to be a wayward effort.

A Kieran Trippier cross was cleared as the stop-start nature of the game continued, and then John Stones defended well when Claesson attempted to find space to cross from the Sweden right.

But England were close to an opener after 19 minutes when Raheem Sterling's run saw the ball fall to Harry Kane on the edge of the area and his low effort was drilled beyond the far post.

Young advanced down the left to deliver a dangerous cross which was cleared before Sterling, on the right, had the chance to cross but delayed too long and saw his attempt blocked.

Trippier's low cross was too far in front of Kane and Olsen claimed, but England were beginning to discover some fluency after their uneven start.

Sweden's Marcus Berg was ruled offside as he chased a long ball over the top, and at the other end Young whipped in another cross which Granqvist cleared.

But England broke through from the corner on the half-hour, Young whipping the ball in and Maguire, badly marked, thumping home a fine header.

Henderson fired over from range as England looked for a second, and then Maguire showed his strength in the air at the other end, rising to head clear a deep Sweden free kick.

Sterling popped up on the left and, although Jesse Lingard got a touch to his deflected cross Sweden, who had not forced Pickford into any meaningful action, were able to clear.

Emil Forsberg's cross was easily dealt with before Victor Lindelof did well to stop Sterling from getting a shot in after Trippier's pass, and Sterling shot straight at Olsen when clean through but the offside flag was up.

Sterling was denied by another touch from Olsen after Jordan Henderson had played him through and then, with Kane and Alli waiting, his final effort was deflected over by Granqvist.

Sweden started the second half well, Alli blocking as Forsberg crossed, and they were almost level when Pickford made an outstanding save as Berg's header was tipped away one-handed.

Forsberg's mis-hit cross curled over Pickford and the bar before England won another free kick which was won in the air by Maguire and Sterling's attempted overhead at the far post was blocked before another Maguire header was cleared.

Southgate's side were beginning to dominate again, winning another corner when Lingard's shot took a deflection and spun wide, and with 59 minutes gone they scored the second goal their performance deserved, Lingard's cross headed home by Alli at the far post.

Two minutes later, Sweden were close to pulling a goal back, another brilliant Pickford save denying Claesson after a rare threatening build-up and then Henderson making an outstanding block to thwart the follow-up.

Sweden made a double change as they tried to find a way back into the game, Forsberg and Ola Toivonen off, John Guidetti and Martin Olsson on, but the momentum remained with England and, following another corner, Maguire thumped an angled effort over at the far post before an Alli volley was blocked.

Pickford tipped over when Guidetti turned and shot inside the area, and moments later Lingard had the chance to free Sterling down the right but put too much weight on his pass.

Southgate made a change, goal scorer Alli coming off to be replaced by Fabian Delph as the game entered its final quarter of an hour.

Trippier delivered yet another fine cross which Emil Krafth hurt himself in clearing but the defender was soon able to continue, and then Pickford took exception to a challenge from Berg as the Sweden attacker chased a deflected ball into the area.

England brought on Eric Dier for Henderson, Sweden introducing Pontus Jansson for Krafth and another England change seeing Marcus Rashford on for Sterling as the Swedes were unable to conjure a late goal to rock England's assurance.

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