Football took another step closer to coming home on Saturday as England beat Sweden 2-0 in the World Cup quarter finals.
The emotional journey for fans watching in Birmingham’s Custard Factory was far smoother than the previous round’s nail-biting penalty shootout, so while there was still a bit of this...
There was far more of this...
Far more fancied England sides had failed to reach the last four in the past but Gareth Southgate’s young squad powered on as they continued to make a mockery of dampened pre-tournament expectations with another impressive display in Russia.
They were set on their way when Maguire rose imperiously to head home from a corner and Alli added the killer blow after the break as England showed they are not entirely dependent on the tournament’s leading scorer Harry Kane for goals.
The crowd - and Her Maj - were elated.
If anything, England’s hero on the day was to be found at the other end of the pitch as keeper Jordan Pickford produced three superb saves to shut out the workmanlike Swedes, reports Reuters.
These moments were just as dramatic as the goals - but not half as enjoyable.
And then there were the missed chances - it could so easily have been 4-0.
Forward Raheem Sterling has faced some criticism over his struggles to score for England and just before halftime his doubters were handed ammunition when he was twice left alone to bear down on Sweden keeper Robin Olsen.
His blushes were saved by the linesman’s flag as he fluffed the first chance, but moments later he ran through again, this time trying to round the keeper, only to be denied once more.
And it showed on the faces of those watching.
England were almost made to pay straight after the interval and would have been pegged back if Pickford had not produced a top-drawer save to keep out a Marcus Berg header.
The importance of the keeper’s contribution was swiftly underlined with England doubling their lead in the 59th minute as Jesse Lingard’s teasing cross into the box was met by Alli unmarked at the far post to head powerfully past Olsen.
Cue beer flying EVERYWHERE.
“I wasn’t born the last time England reached a World Cup semi-final,” said Pickford. “We have always said we would take one game at a time and we can go on and create our own history.”
And history it was - 2-0 at full time and the celebrations were only just getting started...
"We had to withstand a lot of physical pressure," said England coach Gareth Southgate. "The resilience of the team and togetherness of the team today was crucial. Today our spirit was as good as theirs and our quality a little bit better."
Later on Saturday night Croatia ended Russia’s unlikely World Cup dream when they won 4-3 on penalties to eliminate the gallant hosts after a dramatic quarter-final ended 2-2 after extra time on Saturday.
Ivan Rakitic stroked home the winning penalty to send Croatia into a semi-final against Englandafter a night of unremitting tension in Sochi, ending the remarkable campaign of a team ranked 70th in the world.