In what was a very cagey affair, it took two headers – one from Harry Maguire in the 30th minute and the second from Dele Alli on 59 minutes to give England a deserved passage into a first semifinal spot since 1990. The Three Lions deserved their place in the last four as they looked the more offensive throughout the 90 minutes even though Sweden threatened sporadically.
Gareth Southgate decided to start with the 11 that started against Colombia, even though Dele Alli did not look 100% fit while Sweden had Sebastian Larsson back and Emil Krafth at left back in place of the suspended Mikael Lustig.
Alli won the ball off Krafth in the seventh minute but failed to find Harry Kane, who had advanced into the box. The tempo of the match was very slow, maybe caused by the temperatures in Samara. It was a day at the beach kind of weather.
The first shot in anger arrived in the 12th minute when Viktor Claesson needed no invitation to shoot from distance but his 30-yard effort went well over the bar. Kane then dragged an effort wide on 20 minutes after the ball got away from Raheem Sterling.
Kieran Trippier’s cross went safely to Robin Olsen as England tried to raise the tempo. The goal when it came from the corner, lofted into the box by Ashley Young and nodded home by the powerful Maguire, who was largely unchallenged in his jump.
Two minutes before the break, Sterling broke through the offside trap but with a one-on-one chance against Olsen, he seemingly outfoxed himself. England had 56% of the possession in the first half and the only shot on target.
Almost straight from the second half kickoff, Jordan Pickford made a good save from Marcus Berg’s downward header. Forsberg tried to catch Pickford out with a cross cum shot in the 52nd minute.
Kane drew a foul on 53 minutes with England given a chance to deliver a free kick into the Sweden box, which caused some desperate defending from the Swedes.
The tempo quickly dulled and fell into the same first half pattern.
England scored their second in the 15th minute and it was another header, this time from Alli from a delightful chip from Jesse Lingard.
Pickford made another save – on 62 minutes – a long stretch to ward off Claesson’s goal-bound shot. Janne Anderson pilled out both Ola Toivonen and Forsberg and sent on Martin Olsson and John Guidetti in the 65th minute.
Another phase of English pressure brought two corners and a shot from Alli charged down by Granqvist. Pickford pulled off another fingertip save in the 71st off another shot from Berg – his 16th attempt in Russia without scoring.
New father, Fabian Delph came on for Alli with 14 minutes left on the clock. Krafth cut out a Trippier cross that was headed towards Sterling and an almost certain goal.
Eric Dier came on for Jordan Henderson with six minutes left on the clock as Gareth Southgate sent out men to close out the match. The first yellow card was shown to Maguire in the 86th minute. Maguire, who had become reckless, gave away a cheap free kick on the edge of the box in the 90th minute.
Ludwig Augustinsson skied the effort as five minutes were added on and Marcus Rashford came on for Sterling. Larsson got the second yellow card of the match after a petulant foul on Kane. The “it is coming home” refrain continues.