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giftedviz.com July 16, 2018


England's Southgate eyeing Moscow semi-final clash with Russian Federation

09 July 2018, 11:25 | Pamela Mathis

Andreas Granqvist has all eyes on the World Cup quarter-final despite becoming a father for the second time on Thursday

Andreas Granqvist has all eyes on the World Cup quarter-final despite becoming a father for the second time on Thursday

"We had to withstand a lot of physical pressure", said England coach Gareth Southgate.

"It was a bit different this time, when we felt we were in control from start to finish".

England's fairly muted celebrations reflected the routine nature of the victory over a hard-working Swedish side that had already gone further than expected in its first major tournament without Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The 1966 World Cup champions last reached the semifinals in 1990, losing the first of a series of haunting penalty shootouts. Sweden may be limited, effectively a team of spoilers with players from Hull City, Krasnador and Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates but they beat France and finished above Holland in qualifying, they defeated Italy in the play-off and they knocked out Germany in the group stages.

Yet the performances of manager Gareth Southgate's squad - the second youngest at the tournament - are being celebrated wildly back home.

For a long time, England fans have struggled to identify with the players pulling on the shirt and representing their nation.

"I did my best to bring as many Swedes as I could", Swedish fan Mats Sjoberg said. "Whoever we play, we will be ready to go again".

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Fans have spilled out of pubs, parks and homes, coming together to celebrate their team's victory, after more than five decades of disappointment.

England's Marcus Rashford, left, comforts Sweden's Victor Lindelof at the end of their quarterfinal match.

Former Sweden worldwide Hakan Mild labelled Southgate's youthful squad as "spoilt children who earn a lot of money" earlier this week and noises coming out of Janne Andersson's camp have broadly amounted to a feeling England may not be able to cope with their battling qualities.

Leicester defender Maguire headed in the opening goal from a corner on 30 minutes, with Alli adding a second just before the hour.

"The deliveries have been brilliant this World Cup".

But he stuck to his guns and will now have an ever greater belief that trying to fit Dele, Sterling and Jesse Lingard into the same team can work.

Domagoj Vida became the eighth Croatia player to score at these finals when he put the Blazers 2-1 up in extra time, before Mario Fernandes equalised to make penalties necessary. "This is only the third time that England have reached the semifinals, and the first time in 28 years". I was at Crystal Palace when they weren't quite as good as they are now.



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