England reached the World Cup semi-final for the first time since Italia 90 as Harry Maguire and Dele Alli struck either side of the interval to beat Sweden in Samara.
Gareth Southgate’s side will now face Croatia in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday after overcoming a stubborn Sweden challenge in this quarter-final, with help from a magnificent display by goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
Maguire, outstanding once more, broke the deadlock on the half-hour when another England set-piece bore fruit – Leicester City’s powerful defender flashing a header past Sweden keeper Robin Olsen from Ashley Young’s corner.
Everton keeper Pickford then snuffed out Sweden’s hopes of recovery with a superb save from Marcus Berg, before England sealed their victory after 58 minutes when Alli headed in Jesse Lingard’s cross at the far post.
Pickford denied Viktor Claesson and then Berg one more time to secure his first World Cup clean sheet as England closed out this landmark win with something to spare.
Southgate and his England players repeated the scenes from the dramatic penalty shootout win over Colombia as they celebrated in front of joyous supporters at the final whistle – one step closer to history and with expectation levels raised once more as they stand one game away from football’s greatest occasion.
The Three Lions are in the last four for only the third time. They went on to win their home tournament in 1966 but lost to West Germany on penalties in 1990.
But the peculiar way this World Cup has shaped up means they will now play the team ranked 20th or 70th in the world for a place in the final – against either Belgium or France.