Harry Maguire and Dele Alli on target as England see off Sweden to reach semi-finals of World Cup
England have reached the World Cup semi-finals after beating Sweden 2-0 in their quarter-final match in Samara.
Harry Maguire and Dele Alli scored headers in each half as Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions reached the last four for the first time since 1990.
England’s first sight of goal had come in the 19th minute.
Southgate’s side broke with some speed, Jordan Henderson cleverly shuttling the ball forward for the dashing Raheem Sterling.
The Manchester City winger made good progress upfield and stepped aside when his run brought him alongside Harry Kane. The six-goal captain swept a shot at goal from 20 yards but was a yard off target.
The Three Lions were in the ascendancy and won their first corner on the half hour after good work from Henderson, Alli and Kieran Trippier.
As so often at the tournament it proved a gold-mine for Southgate's side, Ashley Young clipping a ball towards the penalty spot in Maguire's direction.
The Leicester man attacked the space, leapt above Emil Forsberg and powered home to make it 1-0.
The goal settled England, Sterling pulled up for offside after going through one-on-one with Robin Olsen but his reticence over releasing his shot spoke of his growing nerves in front of goal.
The same issue reared its head seconds later when Henderson sent him clear with a wonderful pass over the top.
Sterling's first touch was good but Olsen got a glove to it as he attempted to round the keeper. He cut back on himself then, with Kane and Alli waiting, opted to shoot. The angle was not in his favour and Andreas Granqvist deflected the effort wide.
The second half was less than two minutes old when Sweden finally bared their teeth.
Marcus Berg went up against Young at the far post and when a hanging cross was swung in from deep, he climbed above the full-back and headed goalwards.
Pickford, having not made a save of note in the first period, was impressively alert and dropped one-handed to paw the ball away from goal.
England had started to enjoy extra space in the final third, created by Sweden's greater need to attack.
In the 59th minute that territory turned into their second goal of the evening.
Trippier played the ball back for Jesse Lingard and when the Manchester United man hung a cross towards the back post Alli slipped the defensive net.
By the time he leapt to nod the ball home he was all alone, with Emil Krafth's hopes for an offside flag coming to nothing.
Sweden needed a response and only Pickford's brilliant intervention stopped them producing one almost immediately.
Ola Toivonen's low cross was cleverly back-heeled by Berg for Claesson, whose snap shot was destined for the bottom corner until the Everton goalkeeper produced a fine tumbling stop.
Claesson might still have buried the rebound but Henderson threw his body in the way to make a vital block and keep England in sight of a first semi-final in 28 years.
Maguire then had a half chance as Sweden failed to deal with another corner, but his effort did not stop rising and never worried Olsen.
Sweden cut England open at the back in the 71st minute, a flicked header and a skiddy cross enough to take advantage of tiring legs.
Berg was the beneficiary, collecting the ball slightly behind him but turning to whip a powerful shot at goal from eight yards.
Pickford may have been unsighted by Maguire but reached high to tip the ball over with fingertips for what looked another goal-saving contribution.
At the other end, Sterling continued to go looking for his first England goal since October 2015 but when he tried to turn home Trippier's cross Krafth put a vital foot in.
There were no further dramas before the full-time whistle, England securing their place in the last four - and a meeting with Russia or Croatia - with a 2-0 win.
As Three Lions blasted out over the PA system England celebrated - not with the riotous passion of their penalty shootout success but something more calm.
The next stop is Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday and another potentially career-defining night.