Fearless Lions through to the semi-finals
England put in best performance so far to see off Swedes
Three things we learned ...
1 England's defence is getting better by the game
Gareth Southgate’s decision to switch to three central defenders earlier this year was met with quizzical looks from some corners but the back three of Kyle Walker, Harry Maguire and John Stones are growing in stature with every game in Russia. A first clean sheet of the tournament will only help their confidence as will the presence of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, who was the official man of the match.
Calm and composed in the face of Swedish pressure early in the second half, the defensive trio played out from the back with purpose to get the Three Lions going forward as they looked to release the excellent Kieran Trippier down the right.
Goalscorer Maguire and Stones offer a significant threat at set-pieces, accentuated by Trippier’s pin-point dead-ball delivery.
2 Henderson is fearless Lions’ beating heart
Liverpool skipper Henderson has come of age at the World Cup and he put in another tireless performance in Samara.
Henderson ran the midfield and his presence brings the best out in those around him. Ashley Young and Trippier can press forward in the knowledge that the dependable Henderson is tigerishly sweeping up behind them, while midfield partners Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli can create with freedom.
Harry Kane wears the armband but Henderson is just as much of a leader in this squad.
3 Tougher tests lie ahead
For all England deserve the plaudits for their most complete performance to date, tougher tests than Sweden lie ahead.
Playing hosts Russia in their own backyard will be no easy task while they would likely see far less of the ball against a Croatia side who like to dominate possession.
Should they come through that it would be Belgium or France in the final, the two sides who have arguably put in the best performances of the tournament. If the trophy is to come home, it will not be without a serious challenge.
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