England have reached the World Cup semi-finals for the first time in 28 years, after sweeping aside Sweden 2-0, thanks to headed goals from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli.
It will be just the third World Cup semi-final that England have contested, having defeated Portugal 2-1 in 1966, but then suffering an agonising penalty shootout loss to Germany 34 years later at Italia ’90.
From Jordan Pickford to Harry Kane, every player played their part, but which three lions roared the loudest in Samara?
The Liverpool captain showed his character and bounced back from his missed penalty against Colombia with an outstanding performance in the middle of the park. Tackles, interceptions, blocks, aerial duels, Henderson did it all defensively, whilst also being effective in possession.
His defence-splitting pass to Raheem Sterling should have sealed the game before half-time. The Three Lions are now unbeaten in the last 30 games he has appeared in; the longest such streak of any England player in history.
Harry Maguire has been one of the key selections that has defined Gareth Southgate’s tenure as England manager. Selected above veteran defenders Gary Cahill and Chris Smalling, Maguire has been dominant in the air, but also brings the ball out of defence with quality and composure.
Like Henderson, Maguire had a moment to forget against Colombia, when he was unable to contain Yerry Mina for their late equaliser. Against Sweden however, Maguire’s magnificent towering header gave the Three Lions a platform to build off.
Following up his match-winning save in the penalty shootout in the Round of 16, Pickford picked up the Man of the Match award after making a hat-trick of superb saves.
The Everton custodian didn’t face a shot on target in the first half, but pulled off a stunning left-handed save just minutes after the restart to preserve the Three Lions’ lead.
At the business end of tournaments, where margins are fine, Pickford has demonstrated he is the man for the big moments in Russia.
The Best of the Rest
Dele Alli: it has been 21 months since the 22-year-old last scored for England, but with a well-timed run in the penalty box, the Spurs midfielder delivered the killer blow to Sweden, and headed England into their first World Cup semi-final since Italia ’90.
Jesse Lingard: the attacking-midfielder covered the most ground against Colombia, and showed no signs of letting up against the Swedes. His perfectly timed cross to Alli was just the third goal England have scored from open play in Russia.
CLICK HERE to see who England’s top three lions were against Colombia
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