Ashley Young has expressed his delight after putting in a masterful display during England’s 2-0 win over Sweden.
The 32-year-old was a steady, mature influence on the left hand side, holding the ball calmly and exuding an air of control which hallmarked England’s performance from start to finish.
He got the ball rolling for Gareth Southgate’s men with a pinpoint assist from a corner – his second of the tournament – which was headed home by Harry Maguire.
Young took to social media after the game to voice his elation – and sheer disbelief – at reaching a World Cup semi final.
Wow Wow Wow . #WorldCup Semi Final , Let me take a minute to let that sink in 👀 . Thank You everyone for your support here in Russia and back home , Unbelievable ! We keep going 🤘🏾🦁🏴 pic.twitter.com/xZXfovWX7Y
— Ashley Young (@youngy18) July 7, 2018
This was the type of game, high in pressure and low in space for either side, in which Young excels. His lack of attacking ability may frustrate but when the crunch comes – when the game becomes less like football and more of an arm wrestle – he rarely disappoints.
And therein lies the reason why Jose Mourinho adores him so much: that work ethic, that intangible nous, that sheer experience in these environments. Never once in the Samara heat, with a semi-final place at stake, did he snatch at anything or look flustered.
That will no doubt come in handy in Moscow next Wednesday. The same can be said for big games back at Manchester United. Yet you still feel like opting against signing another left back would be a naive move by Mourinho.
For now, though, say these words with me: Ashley Young is one win away from playing in a World Cup final.