There is little here to please the aesthetes, nothing much to arouse the adrenaline junkies. But after 90 straight forward minutes, some might also call it dull, minutes of soccer on Saturday, team England and its fans were, nevertheless, happy to see the team go through to the semi-final of the Russia FIFA world cup 2018.
The young team with unproven record is all set to play their first world cup semi-finals in 28 years. The team thus far has achieved what Beckham and Co missed, a berth to the FIFA World Cup.
All it took for team England was two headed goals and two strong saves to produce a competent, uncomplicated and sometimes compelling 2-0 victory over Sweden. Now the second youngest team at the tournament with an average age of 26 is in striking distance of the final of this year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia.
“We do not have renowned, world class players yet, but we have lots of good, young players who are performing on the world stage of football and saying that they are prepared to be brave with the ball, because we are not yet finished,” said England’s Manager Gareth Southgate.
The England fan base in recent days has been rallying around a catchphrase-“It’s coming home”–that seemed at first to be cried out with a tinge of irony. It was, as it seems now, the product of a perspective established and hardened through years of disappointment at the World Cup.
However, now the slogan increasingly appears to harbour a sense of earnest expectation. About their ambition to reach the final, rather than to play a third-place match after losing in the semi-finals, Southgate said, “We spoke to the players today that none of us fancied going home. We have got to be here for another week, so it is up to us and the games we play in.”
In another game of quarterfinal Croatia defeated Russia by 4-3 in penalty shootout, in the World Cup. The Croats now face England in the semi-final; Croatia had defeated Sweden in the earlier game. At penalty shootout, Ivan Rackitic scored a smooth goal and his team secured a position in the semi-finals. Till 120 minutes the score was levelled at 2-2, but on Saturday night (IST) Russian star Akinfeev failed to save the crucial goal in Penalty shootout and now it is bye-bye time for host Russia.