London : English media heaped praise on Gareth Southgate’s team for reaching the World Cup semi-finals and told the country to cancel plans for Wednesday evening when they face Croatia seeking a place in the final.
“Wednesday’s cancelled! Fans go wild as Three Lions reach first World Cup semi-final for 28 years,” said the Sun on Sunday after England beat Sweden 2-0 in the Russian city of Samara.
The Mail On Sunday online edition said: “The Dream Goes On! England in ecstasy.”
It praised the emerging star of the England team, goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, for more “heroic saves”, and said 32 million people had watched on TV.
The Sunday Mirror paraphrased the song written when England hosted the 1996 European Championships, saying: “England are in the World Cup semi-finals – could this really be the summer football comes home?”
The broadsheet Observer said in its report: “At the final whistle, the victorious players converged on one another. It took a few seconds for them to gather their breath and then, finally, they could join the party that was already under way behind the goal to their right.”
Despite the euphoria, the paper found fault with England’s victory.
“If we were to be picky, a legitimate argument could be made that England will need to play with more finesse if they are to harbour serious ambitions of winning this competition.”
The Sunday Telegraph said Southgate “has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990” when they last appeared in a semi-final, losing to West Germany.
The paper compared Southgate to the England coach 28 years ago, Bobby Robson. “The similarities between Southgate and the late Sir Bobby are striking. Both are synonymous with modesty, consideration and togetherness.
“Like Robson, Southgate has struck gold by playing three at the back and encouraging freedom of expression while backing youth.”