Recap: England 2 Sweden 0

England managed to get to the World Cup semifinals for the first time since 1990 with a 2-0 victory over Sweden.  The match was closely fought all the way through.  Sweden managed more shots on target, three, but England made the most of both of theirs.

Both sides came out cautiously.  The first opportunity went to Viktor Claesson, who was given plenty of space to fire a shot from 25 yards out.  He missed high, but English keeper Jordan Pickford was furious at his defenders.

Nearly ten minutes later came England’s first good opportunity.  Raheem Sterling fed a ball to Harry Kane, who sent the ball low and wide from 22 yards out.  Minutes after, Ashley Young sent in a cross that was ably handled by Andreas Granqvist.

England finally broke through in the 30th minute when Harry Maguire rose to meet a corner kick and headed it downward past Robin Olsen.  It was the eighth goal of ten before England’s second of the day that came from a set piece.  England would have one more opportunity just before the half, but Raheem Sterling took a poor shot rather than finding open teammate Harry Kane.

Sweden came out a new team in the second half.  After ceding most of the possession in the first half, they took the upper hand.  Just two minutes in, Marcus Berg beat Ashley Young to a cross and headed it toward the corner of the net.  Jordan Pickford made a diving stop to keep the English ahead.

After handling more pressure from the Swedes, England doubled their lead in the 58th minute.   Jesse Lingard sent in a dangerous ball to the back post, and Dele Alli headed it home.  Alli may have been offside, but the goal was allowed to stand.

Just minutes later, Sweden again looked dangerous.  Claesson put an extremely dangerous shot on target, but Pickford once again rose to the challenge.  Ten minutes later, Marcus Berg put in a solid effort of his own, sending in a ball that looked certain to dip under the bar.  Pickford got a hand to it, though, knocking it just over the bar.

England would face more pressure but no more shots on target as the match looked settled after that point.  They will go on to face the winner of Croatia-Russia in the semifinals.

Positives for England

Besides going through, England has much to be happy about with the result.  It was their first clean sheet of the competition.  They also had the better of the play and picked up a third goal from something other than a set piece.  Maguire and Alli also gave them hope that they could get goals from players other than Harry Kane.

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