Alli: We owed it to the fans back home to get past Sweden
PUBLISHED: 15:30 09 July 2018
PA Wire/PA Images
The 22-year-old thanked the supporters for backing the national team and praised the performance of Gareth Southgate’s side
Spurs midfielder Dele Alli admitted England owed it to the fans back home to make it through their World Cup quarter-final with Sweden.
The Three Lions won 2-0 on Saturday afternoon to reach the last four of the World Cup for the first time since 1990.
It has added to the feel-good factor in England with fans from all across the country coming together to celebrate Gareth Southgate’s team.
Alli scored the crucial second goal at the weekend, after Harry Maguire’s opener, to ensure they reached the semi-finals and praised the backing of the supporters.
He told BBC One: “This is a great achievement for the team, but we owed it to all the fans back home.
“We have seen how they have been supporting us and believing in us and it was a good performance again from the team.”
The goal for Alli made him England’s second-youngster goalscorer at a World Cup behind Michael Owen.
Aged only 22, the Tottenham Hotspur playmaker had struggled to make an impact in Russia before Saturday.
Following a bright start to the game against Tunisia on June 18, Alli picked up a thigh injury in the first half of the opener and missed the 6-1 win over Panama (June 25) as a result.
He also sat out the 1-0 loss to Belgium (June 28), but returned for the last-16 victory over Colombia (July 3) before finally making his mark against Sweden.
Alli headed home Jesse Lingard’s cross in the 59th minute to give his team a cushion and was delighted with England’s display.
When reflecting on the performance in the sweltering Samara heat, he said: “It was a real graft out there.
“It was important we had faith in the game plan and the way we know we can play as a team.”
The goals from Maguire and Alli were important, but so were the saves of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
England’s number one made a number of fine stops to ensure Sweden didn’t get back in the game.
Alli added: “He proved in the Colombia match how big he is for this team and proved it again on Saturday, so we will all be celebrating together.”