We went minute-by-minute as England and Sweden clashed at the Samara Arena for a place in the World Cup semi-finals.
Hello! And welcome to our live coverage of this afternoon’s quarter-final clash between Sweden and England from the Samara Arena.
We’ve arrived, we’re here and this is it: England, potentially 90 minutes away from a World Cup semi-final — who, in their right mind, could have predicted that four weeks ago when the tournament got underway?
Gareth Southgate’s men have created a whirlwind of buzz and euphoria as the English public finally dare to dream that football is coming home.
His side have exceeded all expectations and did the impossible against Colombia by becoming the first ever English team to win a World Cup penalty shoot-out on Tuesday night in Moscow.
Today they will face their biggest test. This Swedish side is Zlatan-less, but possibly all the better for the striker’s absence.
Janne Andersson’s side have been the ultimate team in the competition so far — robust, tough to break down, somewhat mechanical, but always effective.
In Emil Forsberg they have an absolute star. The RB Leipzig forward was the difference as his deflected strike put Switzerland to the sword in a tight 1-0 win. His side will be hoping for a similar outcome here today.
Kick-off is just under an hour away at 3.00pm.
RTÉ’s coverage gets underway an hour before kick-off, so you know this game means business. Yesterday threw up another brilliant occasion as Belgium dumped out Brazil. With so many of the big hitters sent home prematurely (Brazil, Argentina, Portugal, Germany, Spain), could this actually be England’s year?
Can England go all the way? With a kind draw and a performing team, the RTÉ panel all think that England could make their way to the World Cup final #rtesoccer #worldcup #ENG #SWE pic.twitter.com/8fUUnWjEfm— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) July 7, 2018
But before all that, let’s get started with the team news…
So, today’s teams will line out as:
Sweden: Olsen, Krafth, Lindelof, Granqvist, Augustinsson, Claesson, Larsson, Ekdal, Forsberg, Berg, Toivonen.
Subs: Johnsson, Olsson, Guidetti, Svensson, Helander, Hiljemark, Jansson, Rohden, Durmaz, Thelin, Nordfeldt.
England: Pickford, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Trippier, Alli, Henderson, Lingard, Young, Sterling, Kane.
Subs: Butland, Rose, Dier, Vardy, Welbeck, Cahill, Jones, Delph, Rashford, Loftus-Cheek, Alexander-Arnold, Pope.
With just 45 minutes to go before we get underway, who’s going to come out on top and book their place in the semi-finals of the World Cup?
England’s road to this stage has been nothing less than intriguing. The Three Lions required an injury time header from Harry Kane to see off Tunisia, before hammering Panama 5-1 with absolute ease.
Their group-decider against Belgium was simply bizarre. Despite falling 1-0, the defeat has nearly been a lucky omen — placing Southgate’s side on an easier side of the draw which, if they prevail today, pits them in a semi-final against either Croatia or hosts Russia.
Despite their success so far, you can’t help but feel England still haven’t hit top gear just yet. Dominating penalties and set-pieces with precision, they have just one goal from open play so far in the World Cup.
Players like Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling could yet have a lot more to come, but will undoubtedly face a stiff test today against a disciplined and workmanlike Swedish defence which has been marshalled expertly by captain Andreas Granqvist.
Do England fans dare to dream. Is 2018 the year football actually comes home?Source: LightningSeedsVEVO/YouTube
Half an hour to go.
Some pre-game reading material ahead of kick-off:
The national anthems are done and dusted and we’re just about ready to get underway!
KICK-OFF: We’re underway at the Samara Arena!
A decent opening spell for England inside the opening five minutes. Maintaining possession comfortably as Sweden sit off and invite pressure inside their own half. Patient and steady so far.
Almost a chance for England as Dele Alli cleverly dispossess Emil Krafth. The Tottenham midfielder tries to pick out the darting run of Harry Kane running behind enemy lines, but his pass is just slightly overhit. Very smart reading of the play from Alli there.
England looking like a team who know they are expected to win... and are struggling with the nerves and expectation.— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) July 7, 2018
Viktor Claesson with a strike from range, but it flies high and well wide of the target. Despite this, Jordan Pickford comes from his goal and roars at his defenders after allowing the midfielder the time and space to let fly. The Everton goalkeeper is not one bit impressed.
A very cagey opening 15 minutes, it has to be said. Chances have been to a minimum as England look slightly nervous on the ball, while Sweden threaten through the middle any time they latch onto possession. Striker Ola Toivonen is causing problems running behind that 3-man defence, latching onto long balls while chasing hard and fast.
Chance! We finally have a shot at goal! Raheem Sterling runs dangerously at a back-peddling defence before offloading to Harry Kane. The captain strikes first-time and very nearly navigates the ball into Robin Olsen’s bottom corner. It was just a matter of inches from crawling in to snatch the lead.
England getting quite a bit of success down the right flank now. Firstly Raheem Sterling twisted and turned before seeing his cross deflected off Emil Forsberg and away. Soon after Kieran Trippier bombed forward and turned in a cross of his own, but his effort was gathered by the arms of Robin Olsen as Kane tried to grab a touch.
England giving the ball away too cheaply and Dele Alli the biggest culprit so far— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) July 7, 2018
Another lull period comes to a close as England suddenly shoot into life to send another pair of crosses into the box. This time the danger is coming on the left flank via Ashley Young, but again the crosses are rather aimless and easily headed clear. Containment football so far, and Sweden appear to be winning.
GOAL! SWEDEN 0-1 ENGLAND (MAGUIRE 30)
GOOOOOOAL!!! And just as that is said, Harry Maguire pops up with a powerful, pinpoint header which flies into the back of the net. Another set-piece goal for England, as the Leicester City defender rises high to beat Emil Forsberg to the ball brilliantly. 1-0 England after half an hour!
The game has finally come to life following a dull opening half an hour. England appeared to be getting no-where in their efforts to break down a disciplined Sweden defence. But just as Janne Andersson’s side looked to be gaining momentum, that same discipline and structure fell flat as Maguire took advantage of some poor marking to head his side ahead.
What a way to score your first international goal.
Decent chance for a second for England as half-time approaches. Raheem Sterling easily beats his man with some quick dribbling down the right wing. His cross meets Jesse Lingard, who produces a clever backheel close to goal — but his effort is blocked down and booted clear by Andreas Granqvist.
Another chance goes begging for England as Raheem Sterling is presented with a one v one with Olsen. The goalkeeper produces a brilliant save to deny what should have been a certain goal from Sterling, but his blushes are saved as it wouldn’t have counted anyway — the linesman with a delayed reaction raising his flag for offside.
Chance! Oh, goodness me Raheem Sterling. The winger is presented with another brilliant chance and this time the offside flag stays down. Sterling rounds the goalkeeper but the goal-line is guarded — he twists and turns and eventually his effort is blocked down dramatically. He really should have done better with the goal at his beg and mercy.
HALF-TIME: SWEDEN 0-1 ENGLAND
Well, what have we made of it so far? England 1-0 ahead following a 45 minutes which, really, failed to inspire the imagination.
Sweden have offered next to nothing in the final third, only producing sporadic counter-attacks, and were breached following some really lax marking from a corner-kick.
Janne Andersson’s side remained disciplined in defence throughout the opening half an hour, but were found lacking for Harry Maguire’s excellent headed goal (another set-piece goal for Gareth Southgate’s side).
Ever since then Sweden have been at sixes and sevens at the back, and perhaps England should be more than a goal ahead — Raheem Sterling with a handful of chances to put the game to bed which went begging.
More action to come shortly!
SECOND-HALF: We’re back underway!
Close! Sweden really have come out of the traps after the interval and almost draw level less than two minutes into the second half. Marcus Berg rises highest inside the box and diverts a header towards the bottom corner. Jordan Pickford scrambles down to meet it and produces a brilliant save to claw it off the line at the last second. An outstanding save from the Everton man.
50mins: #SWE 0-1 #ENG— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) July 7, 2018
Marcus Berg almost grabs an equaliser for Sweden. Jordan Pickford makes a great save.#RTEsoccer
Follow live updates with @wright_rob: https://t.co/NnapTOCy4V pic.twitter.com/mm8OWwlNdx
Sweden still maintaining the upper hand so far after the break. England yet to produce a chance, struggling to get the ball into the final third to feed Kane and Sterling who have been a little bit isolated so far after half-time.
A pair of headers from Harry Maguire causes momentary panic inside the Swedish box. England have been making excellent use of their ariel threat, with Maguire’s ball back across goal setting Sterling up for an ambitious overhead kick which just lacks the proper connection to test Olsen between the sticks.
GOAL! SWEDEN 0-2 ENGLAND (ALLI 59)
GOOOOOOOOAL!!! England double their lead with half an hour to go. Kyle Walker curls a dangerous cross into the box where Dele Alli has a free header which he duly dispatches past Olsen and into the back of the net. A precise headed effort from the Tottenham midfielder, as Sweden completely fall asleep yet again. 2-0 England!
SAVE! Sweden almost find a way back into this game but Jordan Pickford produces another excellent save to maintain his clean sheet and his side’s two goal advantage. It’s really quick, smart build-up play from Sweden.
The chance culminates in Marcus Berg putting the ball on a plate for Ola Toivonen, but the striker’s low effort is read ahead of time by Pickford, who dives early and bats the ball to safety. Toivonen will be absolutely kicking himself he didn’t put that away.
Harry Maguire almost snatches his second international goal as England up the ante in search of a third here. Yet again Sweden fail to deal with a corner swung into the box — the ball falls towards the back post to Maguire, who swings a big left boot at it, but his shot flies high and wide. He absolutely ballooned that one.
Advantage doubled from Dele.
SAVE! Jordan Pickford with another great stop. The ball bounced up for Marcus Berg to smash an inviting half-volley goal-bound. His effort seemed destined for the roof of the net before Pickford managed to get a hand to it to help the ball over the crossbar. Another brilliant stop and, you have to say, Pickford is playing out of his skin at the minute.
Substitution: Fabian Delph replaces goalscorer Dele Alli with 15 minutes remaining to see this game out.
More promising build-up play from England sees Kieran Trippier send in a low cross which almost reaches Raheem Sterling. The winger was lying in wait to prod the ball into an empty net, but Granqvist reads the cross and boots it clear. England very much looking for a third and showing no signs of resting on their two goal lead.
Sweden spring Pontus Jansson from the bench to try and find some late inspiration here. But it has to be noted just how lacklustre and devoid of attacking guile they have been throughout this game.
Jordan Pickford has been a serious nemesis all throughout this afternoon to any rare chances that have come Berg and Toivonen’s way, but really Janne Andersson’s side have never really gotten going at all in this quarter-final.
A matter of minutes to go now as Gareth Southgate brings Marcus Rashford on in place of Raheem Sterling. The game has petered towards the end in these final 15 minutes, Sweden failing to produce a fightback worthy of the occasion. The board shows there will be five minutes of stoppage time to come at the end of the second half, but this game looks all but over — and has done for quite a while.
FULL-TIME: SWEDEN 0-2 ENGLAND
That’s all she wrote. England are through to the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time since 1990.
Headers either side of half-time from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli sees Gareth’s Southgate’s men past a dreary and uninspiring Sweden side, who exit at the quarter-finals.
Thanks a million for joining us, you can read our full report here!