Sweden 0 – 2 England – England are now one game away from the FIFA World Cup Final…
After 60 games and almost a month of football, there are now only four nations that can win the FIFA World Cup™. And England are one of them. Pinch yourselves.
Three Lions fans are in dreamland after Gareth Southgate’s side eased into the last four of the FIFA World Cup™ for the first time since 1990. The country has been made to wait 28 long years to be competing for football’s ultimate prize at the semi-final stage, and now just two games stand between our boys and immortality.
The 120 torturous minutes against Colombia was far too tense to be enjoyable, but Saturday’s deserved and dominating victory over Sweden was a different occasion altogether. The players were noticeably calmer before kick-off the stadium didn’t have the same hostile edge as the build up to the round of 16 game. The Hisense dbx-TV soundbar-quality audio really brought across the party atmosphere – who says you have to step foot in Russia to enjoy the festival of football?
Talk before the game was on the dangers of the Swedes, the side who had conceded just twice in the tournament and were group winners in a highly competitive group that contained the World Champions. But a reborn, fearless England apparently had other ideas and that nail-biting game didn’t materialise.
The first half an hour may have lacked the dynamism of recent England displays in the tournament, but Harry Maguire’s opener from yet another set-piece sparked the Three Lions into life. The whole country now comes to a standstill and collectively leans forward in anticipation every time we get a corner or a free-kick. Red shirts continued to bomb forward in search of a second and the Swedes will have been over the moon to go in just one goal down at the break.
The second half started with three excellent saves from Jordan Pickford. England’s number one has gone from strength to strength in Russia and his outstanding start to the second-half helped to weather the storm, as a clearly riled Sweden side looked to catch England on their heels. Berg’s header from eight yards out was one of the few times this tournament Maguire has been beaten in the air and it took a Banks-esc spring to Pickford’s left to turn it round the post. Whatever is lost from the technicolour footage of Banks’ 1970 save, certainly wasn’t lost on the picture-perfect 4K Ultra HD Hisense U7A image. As the broadcast turned over angle after angle of the spectacular reflex stop I could see every intricate movement that culminated his left hand meeting the ball with a firm clearance.
After Sweden’s strong start, England regained their dominance as the second half got into full swing. The Three Lions were comfortable and assured in possession and you’d be forgiven for forgetting this was a FIFA World Cup™ quarter-final. As the game wore on, a second goal looked like it would be enough to kill off Sweden – and it did. Dele Alli’s back-post header was welcomed with a sigh of relief as much as any celebration. England were playing well, converting their chances and deservedly on the brink of their first FIFA World Cup™ semi-final since Sir Bobby Robson’s side at Italia 1990. Even the closing minutes didn’t deliver any nervous moments and Southgate’s side were as professional and ¬¬efficient as we’ve come to expect of them to see out the victory.
Despite our progress, there are still those that can’t help but be sceptical when it comes to the national team. Those that will say Sweden offered little; that Colombia were without their key player; that the trouncing of Panama was to be expected; but the fact remains that this young England side has broken records at every turn. Let’s not forget that this team scored six goals in a single FIFA World Cup™ game, won a dreaded penalty shootout and are now through to the semi-finals of the competition, equalling the country’s best ever tournament performance on foreign soil and jumping over hurdles that have felled previous England teams.
In Saturday night’s other quarter-final that would confirm our next opponents, Croatia scraped through their clash with Russia, penalties seeing them progress for the second successive knockout tie. The narrative in recent weeks has been of our potential path to the final and how wary we should be of a promising Croatian side should we face them, but I’d argue that our semi-final opponents should be more wary of us. Southgate’s squad have overcome every obstacle thrown at them in Russia, and the boss has instilled a freedom and a fearless mentality that will take England forward regardless of the outcome on Wednesday. Even the most optimistic of fans would not have dreamed that a victory over Croatia would stand between the Three Lions and the FIFA World Cup™ final, but the outlook has changed. England have continued to surprise us all and now I’m certainly not the only one who expects them to go all the way.
The Armchair Reporter is tuning into the tournament with the Official TV of the FIFA World Cup™, the Hisense U7A 4K ULED TV. Specifically designed to offer the greatest possible sporting experience, there’s no better way to experience every moment of the beautiful game’s showpiece event, short of travelling to Russia!
Hisense UK Armchair Reporter