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For a long time, England fans have struggled to identify with the players pulling on the shirt and representing their nation.

SAMARA, Russia - England achieved something David Beckham's generation never managed: It reached the semifinals of the World Cup.

And it is a step that has tripped England up so many times.

In extra time, Subasic blocked and smothered Daler Kuziaev's attempt, which appeared to be a game-saver until Fernandes came unmarked on a free kick and his header to the far post couldn't be stopped in the 115th minute. After going a goal down, Sweden left huge swathes of room for the English forwards to exploit although the English failed to make the most of these gaps. I would imagine there is a big party at home.

Sweden had reached the quarter-finals by making life hard for supposedly superior opponents and it was easy to see why after a dour opening when England looked incapable of stringing passes together against its hardworking opponents.

England had not kept a clean sheet in their four previous matches and had Pickford to thank for ensuring they did not concede this time.

"Hopefully with what our junior teams have been doing at global level as well, it will be a sign to all clubs, whether in England or overseas, that English players can play. I have the greatest respect for them, and congratulations to England".

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"They have been prepared to park their club rivalries at the door", Southgate said.

Also, how to recover from adversity.

"Under pressure they suffered", Southgate said.

Harry Kane says he and his England "brothers" are prepared to do whatever is required as they continue to chase their World Cup dream.

England were the better team here by some distance and deserved the victory although there was little of the drama and tension of the penalty shoot-out win over Colombia in the last 16. England hosts the world's richest soccer competition - the Premier League - but hasn't been able to produce a national team to match. "Football's coming to homes everywhere".

Headed goals from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli in Samara, and a handful of key saves from goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, sent England through to a last-four showdown with either hosts Russian Federation or Croatia on July 11.


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