World Cup: Sweden 0 England 2 - 5 things you need to know

Sweden's forward Marcus Berg (left) heads the ball with England's defender Harry Maguire.
Sweden's forward Marcus Berg (left) heads the ball with England's defender Harry Maguire.PHOTO: AFP

It's coming home - That's the chant growing in the England camp as the Three Lions defeated Sweden 2-0 in Samara to reach the World Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1990. That belief stemmed from the way Gareth Southgate's men controlled the match and how they punctured a mean Swedish defence and now, they are two steps away from repeating the heroics of 1966.

1. Goals

England (Harry Maguire 30th minute, Dele Alli 59th)

2. The wow moment

Sweden had conceded just twice at this World Cup, both times to Germany in the group stage, and much of it had to do with their organisational excellence and their imposing physical game. But the way England opened the scoring was even more impressive. Maguire demonstrated exceptional power to bulldoze his way past a sea of bodies to nod Ashley Young's corner home.

3. The talking point

England had already overcome a major mental obstacle when they won their first World Cup penalty shoot-out to defeat Colombia in the round of 16. They had also won just once in five competitive meetings with Sweden and now, they calmly swatted their bogey team aside. Southgate's youthful selection are playing without fear, without the burden of that plagued biggers names like John Terry, David Beckham, Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney in the past. His first XI is unusual - Right-back Kyle Walker as centre-back, winger Ashley Young at left-back... but it is all working because they buy into the manager's plans. Southgate had also picked players from clubs outside the Big Six. Maguire comes from Leicester City, Jordan Pickford is from Everton and reserve goalkeeper Nick Pope plays for Burnley.

4. The star

Although England was clinical in breaking down the tight Swedish defence with headers from Maguire and Dele Alli, they have to thank Pickford for their first clean sheet of this World Cup. In the rare times he was called into action, he was on full alert to keep out the danger. The best save of the lot came in the 47th minute when he dived full stretch to keep out a Marcus Berg downward header. Pickford certainly played like a goalkeeper who could not be beaten against the Scandinavians.

5. What the result means

The Three Lions will now meet either Russia or Croatia in the second semi-final on July 12 (Singapore time) in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium. In this tournament, we had seen many faces of England. They were ravishing in the 6-1 slaughter of Panama, they were riveting in the shoot-out win over Colombia and they were ruthless in this clinical win over Sweden. England fans will certainly hope they were not rubbish as seen in the poor group stage loss to Belgium. As for Sweden, they had more than met their tournament targets. Janne Andersson's men had already pulled off a big shock by qualifying for the World Cup at Italy's expense. They then made it out of a group containing Germany and Mexico. It's a job well done for the Swedes and they go out with their heads held high.