'I was not happy' - Dele Alli looks to improve for England despite vital goal

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The Spurs midfielder hasn’t replicated his form at club level with the national team, even though his side have got to the World Cup semi-final

Dele Alli has admitted he is not happy with his overall performance against Sweden, despite notching England’s second goal against to get them to their first World Cup semi-final since 1990.

The goal meant that Alli became England’s youngest goalscorer at a World Cup since Michael Owen, as he helped guide his side home by heading in a Jesse Lingard cross.

His strike came after Harry Maguire’s powerful header opened the scoring in the first half in a game in which England always looked in control on their way to the last four.

The 21-year-old has been one of the biggest targets of criticism despite the success of his side, but manager Gareth Southgate has stood by him and Alli wants to now show his best with sterner tests to come.

“When you look at it like that. It is great [to be the youngest scorer since Owen], but the most important thing is the team today,” Alli said at the Cosmos Arena. 

“As a player you want to score goals. As an attacking player, you do get frustrated but I knew it would come. I knew I would get a chance. When it comes, it was important that I took it.  Yes, I think so. As a team we are playing well though.

"I don’t think that I personally played that great today, but I think the team was resilient, defended well and we dominated the game.

“Obviously, it is always nice to score but more important is the team. I think in the first half I wasn’t as sharp or as good on the ball as I should have been. As I say, you have those games, but thankfully the team was resilient and defended well. The players around me were good.

“To be so dominant, to create and be so patient shows maturity in our play. Sweden are a tough team to play against and they showed that in their other games but in the end it was a good night for us.

Dele Alli England Sweden World Cup 2018 070718

“I think it is important to want to achieve a lot more. I think that is a great thing to be hungry, it is a hungry squad. You want to achieve and keep improving together. We are not the finished article but we are in the semi-finals of the World Cup and we are excited.”

A member of MK Dons' squad just three years ago, Alli admits that at times his meteoric rise feels like a dream.

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“It is great. There are times when I think about how far I have come. I think is it real?” he stated. “At the same time, I think every decision I have made, everything I have done until now shows I have been working for it.

“Every day I have been working to improve so I hope I can go further. It feels really good. It gives you the shivers when you think about the reaction back home.

“I think we owe them a lot of thanks for the way they are supporting us. We have seen the reaction to the squad and it has been unbelievable and we hopefully have many more great memories to come.”

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