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England roar into World Cup semis

TWO LIONS: Kyle Walker and John Stones celebrate with the travelling England fans...

TWO LIONS: Kyle Walker and John Stones celebrate with the travelling England fans...

England’s World Cup dream remains well and truly alive, as the Three Lions roared into the semi-finals for the first time in 28 years with a 2-0 triumph over Sweden.

Goals in each half from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli clinched victory for Gareth Southgate’s men in their first quarter-final in the competition since 2006, while goalkeeper Jordan Pickford produced a hat-trick of stunning saves to maintain his clean sheet.

John Stones, Kyle Walker and Raheem Sterling all started the clash in Samara, as Southgate named an unchanged side from the one that defeated Colombia on penalties in the last 16. Fabian Delph also came off the bench, having returned to Russia following the birth of his third child.

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Once the early nerves had faded, England settled into the encounter and produced a professional performance to secure their spot in the last four. Sterling in particular proved a bright spark with his movement and pressing, and was unfortunate not to open his account – thwarted by goalkeeper Robin Olsen.

Walker and Stones enjoyed a solid afternoon, as Sweden were limited to few clear chances with England shielding a two-goal advantage.

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Continuing to showcase their aerial threat from set-pieces, the Three Lions opened the scoring via a corner, as Maguire headed home.

The lead was doubled just before the hour-mark when Alli converted Jesse Lingard’s cross from close range. England placed one foot in the semi-finals.

Sweden rallied in a bid to claw themselves back into the game, introducing former Blue John Guidetti from the bench, but the Scandinavians found Pickford and the England defence in inspired form. The shot-stopper was called into action three times to deny Marcus Berg and Viktor Klaesson – and he did so superbly.

As reward for their efforts, England face Croatia, who defeated tournament hosts Russia on penalties. The last four encounter will take place on Wednesday 11 July at 7pm and will be shown live on ITV.

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