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World Cup 2018: ‘It’s coming home,’ says Alan Shearer, as Chris Waddle breaks down

World Cup 2018: ‘It’s coming home,’ says Alan Shearer, as Chris Waddle breaks down
08 Jul
7:35
World Cup 2018: Sweden 0-2 England highlights
2018 Fifa World Cup on the BBC
Host: Russia Dates: 14 June – 15 July
Live: Coverage across BBC TV, BBC Radio and BBC Sport website with further coverage on Red Button, Connected TVs and mobile app.

“It’s coming home,” was Alan Shearer’s verdict after seeing England beat Sweden 2-0 to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time since 1990.

Over on Radio 5 live, Chris Waddle – one of the heroes of that campaign – broke down in tears, saying: “It’s unbelievable. I couldn’t believe I would witness this. It’s quite emotional actually.”

England will play Croatia in the last four after seeing off the Scandinavians with ease.

Former Three Lions captain Shearer described goalkeeper Jordan Pickford’s performance as “outstanding”, while fellow BBC TV pundit Rio Ferdinand felt defender Harry Maguire, who scored England’s opener, was “immense”.

This is what Shearer, Ferdinand and Germany legend Jurgen Klinsmann made of England’s key men on a special night in Samara:

Jordan Pickford – ‘In the delicate moments, he was right there’

World Cup 2018: Jordan Pickford makes three excellent saves to keep England’s dream alive

At 24, Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is the youngest England goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet in a World Cup game. He dived at full-stretch to keep out Marcus Berg’s header at the start of the second half with the score at 1-0, got down to his right to keep out Viktor Claesson’s low shot and then acrobatically tipped over a powerful shot from Berg.

Alan Shearer: “We were professional and thorough and every single player played their part, but Pickford was outstanding in goal when he had to be, when they got through our defence.”

Rio Ferdinand: “The timing of his first save was vital – you are making big saves at big times in games. If you are going to be successful in a tournament, you need your goalkeeper to stand firm but what he has showed here is character and personality.

“The confidence that has come out of the shootout save he made against Colombia was so apparent within this game because he makes saves, he is berating his defenders when Sweden are taking shots, and he seems to be commanding his backline at the moment, which is a great asset to have.”

Jurgen Klinsmann: “You need a goalkeeper who is in top form if you want to go far in a World Cup and Pickford is on top of his game.

“In the delicate moments he was right there. What really impressed me was his overall game and his distribution. His body language was always positive and focused too. You had the feeling he commanded his box.”

Harry Maguire – ‘an integral member of this team’

World Cup 2018: Harry Maguire heads in the opener for England against Sweden

Eight of England’s 11 goals at this World Cup have come from set-pieces, with Leicester defender Harry Maguire breaking the deadlock against Sweden with a powerful run and header from England’s first corner of the game.

Alan Shearer: “It was perfect, all of it. The ball, the run, the timing and the header. It was magnificent. The keeper had no chance.”

Rio Ferdinand: “Harry deserves a special mention because, in both boxes, he was immense. He is a man-mountain but with the ball at his feet his is graceful as well and this team is set up perfectly for him to play, to run out with the ball.

“Against Sweden he became someone who is an integral member of this team, someone who is indispensable at the moment.”

Jurgen Klinsmann: “It takes a lot to make set-pieces work – the delivery is one thing but also the determination and desire to go in there and make the ball yours and that is what Harry did tremendously well against Sweden, and it was such a joy to watch him.”

Jordan Henderson – ‘putting out fires left, right and centre’

Jordan Henderson was one of four England players who went into the quarter-final a booking away from a suspension that would have meant them missing the semi-final. The others were Kyle Walker, Jesse Lingard and Ruben Loftus-Cheek – all of them will be available.

Rio Ferdinand: “I think Jordan Henderson’s stock has gone up during this World Cup. He has been heavily criticised in the past for not passing the ball forward but against Sweden he proved he can do that, and he did it better than anyone.

“The ball he played through to send Raheem Sterling clear is an example of what he has brought to his game during this World Cup. If Pirlo plays that ball we are sat here salivating over it, so why not when it is Jordan?

“But it is his defensive work as well – the ground he covered, was phenomenal putting out fires left, right and centre and being that protector of the top three when the other midfielders are in advanced areas.

Alan Shearer: “It is his work-rate and his pressing, the drive for his team. Against Sweden, when it came to the ugly side of the game that some players don’t like doing, he was magnificent at that.”

Rio Ferdinand: “Character. That is a big part of his make-up.”

How good were England overall, and why?

World Cup 2018: England players celebrate reaching the semi-finals

Jurgen Klinsmann: “Throughout the entire England team, there was not even one weakness. What I really loved was in the second half they went for the second goal and they wanted to finish the game off.”

Alan Shearer: “I did not ever feel anything other than we were going to beat Sweden and get to a semi-final. I never felt nervous at all during the game, and that is how comfortable they made us feel.

“We have got a momentum and a team spirit that is just dragging them through. I thought this was England’s best performance of the tournament – I know they battered Panama but against Sweden they managed the game superbly well, and saw it through.”

Rio Ferdinand: “We all fancied England to win before the game, by how many goals we did not know, but we fancied us to win because there is a confidence that exudes from this team, a knowhow and a philosophy.

“I wanted an identity borne out of this tournament for this team and I think we have got it now. They are possession-based, yes, they keep the ball and probe and we have got players in there who can make a difference.

“And they are young players gaining valuable experience here – they are enjoying it, and they deserve to be. What an environment that must be to be in.

‘Semi-finals? I wasn’t born in 1990, so I will take that’ – Pickford

“This bunch seems like a well-balanced, well-oiled machine at the moment and that has come with momentum. Everyone was saying before the World Cup that we would be happy with the quarter-finals but once you get into a tournament, they have got that confidence now and things are happening for them.

“They are just performing. The draw has opened up for them, we can’t get away from that, but you have still got to beat the teams who are in front of you, and we are doing that.”

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