More Time In Russia For England As They Reach The Semi-Finals And A Quick Look At The Other Quarter-Finals

Posted: July 8, 2018 in Arsenal, Chelsea, England, Football, International Football, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Opinion, The World Cup, Tottenham Hotspur
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(Harry opens the scoring but it isn’t Kane, it’s Maguire!)

So the final match in England’s bid to reach their first World Cup semi-final since 1990 got underway today. After a cagey opening twenty minutes or so England grew into the game. Sweden didn’t really threaten at all in the first half and it was no real surprise when an Ashley Young corner was headed powerfully into the net by Harry Maguire.

They would have scored at least another goal, if not more, had they had someone other than Raheem Sterling on the pitch. He dithered, dallied, lost the ball, made the wrong decisions and was almost personally responsible for the score only being 1-0 at half-time.

He hasn’t yet scored at this tournament and, on the only occasion he was dropped in favour of Marcus Rashford, the United player looked a lot better in the role.

In the second half Sweden obviously needed to come out more as they needed to score so the game was a little more open and straight after the break Jordan Pickford was called into action for the first time in the match when making a smart save from a Marcus Berg header.

Just short of the hour mark and England went two up. A cross from Jesse Lingard found it’s way to the far post where an unmarked Dele Alli had an easy task in heading it past the giant Robin Olsen in the Swedish goal.

Even though goals were required Sweden didn’t actually look like a team who knew how to score them.

Just after the 90th minute Raheem Sterling was eventually taken off, about 80 minutes later than he should have been. Yes, he made some good runs but then hadn’t a clue what to do when he received the ball and wasted every opportunity.

Five minutes of added time crawled by for the England fans and raced by for the Swedish then it was all over. England are in the semi-finals of the World Cup.

Russia v Croatia…..


Denis Cheryshev scores a belter as Russia take the lead against Croatia

The other quarter-final between Russia and Croatia was a tense, yet entertaining, affair.

The Russians took the lead on 31 minutes when Denis Cheryshev lashed a 25-yard shot into the top corner.

The lead, however, only lasted eight minutes before Andrej Kramarić equalised for Croatia. That was the end of the scoring and the teams went in level at half-time.

The second half was shaded by Croatia but the Russians just about deserved to take the match to extra time, which they did with the score still 1-1.

It only took eleven minutes of extra time for Croatia to take the lead when they won a corner which was headed in by Domagoj Vida. Cue wild celebration even with 20 minutes left!

As is often the case the celebrations were premature as Russia equalised through a Mario Fernandes header with only five minutes left.

This was enough to take the game to a penalty shoot-out which was won 4-3 by Croatia, who will now play England in the semi-final.

Yesterday’s games…..

After a two day break the World Cup returned with two of the quarter-final games, both featuring European teams against South American teams.

First up was France versus Uruguay which pitted one of the best defences against the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Paul Pogba.

France took the lead through Raphael Varane who headed in an Antoine Griezmann free-kick and, in the second half, went further ahead when Griezmann tried a speculative shot that was actually heading straight at Muslera, the Uruguayan goalkeeper. For some reason, known only to himself, he moved out of the way of the flight of the ball which then hit the side of his hands and went into the net.

Without the threat of Cavani up front Uruguay never looked as though they would score one goal never mind two and France were through to the semi-finals on Tuesday where they will meet the winner of the later game between Brazil and Belgium.

Brazil v Belgium…..


Kevin De Bruyne scores Belgium’s second goal against Brazil

This game was always going to be tight as it was between, arguably, the two best teams left in the tournament.

Brazil started as slight favourites but were behind in the first half when Fernandinho misjudged his header from a Belgian corner and the ball flew past Alisson to make it 1-0 to Belgium.

Before the break Belgium got another goal when Kevin De Bruyne hit a screamer which arrowed past Alisson who is probably still looking for it!

Brazil tweaked their tactics for the second half when they obviously needed to score goals but they only managed one. It was well worked although Augusto, when he headed home, was completely unmarked virtually on the penalty spot.

Roberto Martinez then, inexplicably to some, took off Romelu Lukaku which, had Brazil equalised and taken the game to extra time and maybe even penalties, would have looked a ridiculous decision.

As it turned out he got away with it and will now be remembered for guiding Belgium to the World Cup semi-finals.



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