Concerned England fans make the same joke about the referee against Sweden

Lynette Rowe
July 9, 2018

These are qualities that have helped this England team close a distance with their public that seemed firmly entrenched after a succession of recent tournament failures.

Fortunately, the ref's first name didn't prevent Harry Maguire from heading home England's opener after half an hour. "I believe that they are perfectly able to go all the way".

"That's so important for us on Saturday because I always think Sweden like to point out we're paid this and that, and we're the team of entitlement, when I don't think that is the case for this group".

Having wreaked havoc in the opposition box - thumping in Ashley Young's left-wing corner with a header packing more power than most can generate with their feet, Maguire dealt with the considerable physical threat posed by Ola Toivonen and Marcus Berg with assured calmness.

The Swedes were playing in the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 1994, when they reached the semifinals.

The playmaker is still looking for his best form in Russian Federation, having missed two group matches with a thigh injury and battled against a recurrence ahead of the quarter-final.

They began solidly against England in a slow and sloppy start to the game that resembled a pre-season friendly at times, only to be outdone by a goal Sweden isn't used to conceding.

Maguire received a late booking for a foul on John Guidetti, and conceded a free-kick in a risky position soon afterwards, but they were rare blots on an otherwise assertive display.

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"Personally, I don't think I played as well as I should have", he said.

"I want this to be an inspiration for future generations of English footballers".

Although Sweden rallied in the final 30 minutes, forcing two good saves from goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, England comfortably held on for its first shutout of the tournament.

From Southgate to captain Harry Kane and throughout the squad with their own individual stories and their superbly coached approach and their never ending teamwork and desire to play for England and do so in the right way.

Sterling's movement was very good, though, causing Sweden's slow defense problems throughout.

The 1966 World Cup champions last reached the semifinals in 1990, losing the first of a series of haunting penalty shootouts.

It's been a long time between drinks for England football fans. Janne Andersson's side are supremely well drilled, but do not possess the pace or penetration to chase a game.

"There are times I think about how far I have come and you think 'is it real?' But every decision I've made and the work I've put in has been for this", he said.

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