MOSCOW. — England celebrated reaching the Soccer World Cup semi-finals for the first time in a generation as Russia came to terms yesterday with a heartbreaking exit from their own party.
Gareth Southgate’s young team swept Sweden aside 2-0, sparking scenes of unconfined joy in London and elsewhere as World Cup fever reached new heights with the country sweltering in a summer heatwave.
“Cancel your plans for Wednesday night — England have reached their first World Cup semi-final in nearly 30 years,” said the Sun yesterday.
“The dream goes on! England in ecstasy,” trumpeted the Daily Mail yesterday. Leicester City defender Harry Maguire headed England ahead in the first half and Tottenham’s Dele Alli added a second just before the hour as Southgate’s team enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in Samara.
Man-of-the-match Jordan Pickford made three outstanding saves to keep Sweden at bay, further burnishing a reputation that has grown throughout the tournament.
“It’s a great achievement for the team, we owed it to the fans back home who believed in us,” said Alli.
“It’s always nice to score, especially on occasions like this. It’s an amazing feeling to be going to a semi-final at a World Cup.” Captain Harry Kane, who leads the goalscoring charts in Russia with six strikes, failed to find the net for the first time but said confidence was high after England posted their best run at a major tournament since Euro ‘96.
“We’re buzzing. We know there is still a big game ahead, but we’re feeling really good,” he said.
Prince William, the president of the Football Association, praised Southgate’s men.
“You wanted to make history @England and you are doing just that,” he tweeted. “This has been an incredible #WorldCup run and we’ve enjoyed every minute. You deserve this moment — Football’s Coming Home!”
Even if Southgate’s team reach the final, William will not attend the match because of Britain’s diplomatic boycott of the World Cup in Russia over a nerve agent attack in England this year. — AFP.