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04 Jul 2018

England: 2 changes Southgate should make ahead of Sweden quarter-final

England: 2 changes Southgate should make ahead of Sweden
quarter-final

The Three Lions reached their first World Cup quarter-final since 2006 after their first-ever penalty shootout victory at a major tournament.

REUTERS/Carl Recine

When Yerry Mina's powerful header - his third in as many World Cup games - found the back of the net and seemed to edge over Kieran Trippier's head by a matter of millimetres, heads dropped and a familiar sense of gloom began to wash over the watching millions.

Penalties loomed and so did the memories of 1990 against Germany, Argentina in 1998 and, most recently, Portugal in 2006.

A botched Jordan Henderson spot-kick left hearts racing and tears streaming as the Three Lions were pushed closer to the departures terminal, but Mateus Uribe hitting the bar, followed up by a strong one-handed save from Jordan Pickford, saw Eric Dier net the winning penalty to send England into ectasy.

It's like a scene from MASH in the dressing room. Some just cramp, and some need just a little bit more assessment, so we'll know more over the next 36 hours - Gareth Southgate speaking in the wake of England's penalty victory.

120 tense, nervous minutes passed before England qualified for the next round and it left the majority of players in discomfort, seemingly suffering from cramp and mental exhaustion, such is the nature of these intensely short tournaments.

Wholesale changes at this stage are naturally discouraged, but careful tinkering on the part of Gareth Southgate should ensure safe passage to the semi-finals.

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