Harry Maguire and Dele Alli scored with headers in a 2-0 win over Sweden on Saturday, earning England a match against either Croatia or host nation Russian Federation for a place in the final. "It is an incredible feeling". The surprising run is being fuelled by goals from set pieces, and there was another against Sweden when Maguire headed in a corner in the 30th minute.
Far more fancied England sides had failed to reach the last four in the past but Gareth Southgate's young squad powered on as they continued to make a mockery of dampened pre-tournament expectations with another impressive display in Russian Federation.
"We had to withstand a lot of physical pressure", said England coach Gareth Southgate. They began marginally the brighter side but are not set up to concede first: they had not done so in their previous four games, and when Maguire climbed high to score, their game plan went out of the window. "The resilience of the team and togetherness of the team today was crucial".
Members of the Sweden team gathered in the lobby of the hotel, many of them bleary-eyed and obviously not amused by the unexpected early disruption to their day.
"Over the years we have underestimated them".
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So, they're clearly a good side, and we want to win. "But the bottom line is we're through and that's really all that matters". But Gareth Southgate's side also did well to respond after conceding an equaliser so late, and obviously recovering from that.
"I wasn't born the last time England reached a World Cup semi-final", said Pickford.
Pickford had relatively little to do in a quiet first half, but the England goalkeeper produced a vital stop to claw away a Marcus Berg header minutes after the restart. After I made that first save from Berg, it set me up for the rest of the game.
That said, they posed a threat in the second period and if Pickford had not been on top of his game then the latter stages, at either 1-1 or 2-1, would have taken on an entirely different appearance.
"They have got a hell of a chance and I don't think us as a nation will get a better chance of going all the way to the final, so I hope they grasp it".
England captain Harry Kane did not add to his six goals at the tournament but is relishing a semi-final in Russia's capital. "We are enjoying it and we've got keep doing what we are doing and make the country proud".