Welbeck sends England to the World Cup Final
Danny Welbeck's early strike sent England into their first World Cup Final since winning the competition in 1966.
Hodgson's men had done themselves proud by beating Colombia and reaching the semi finals where they were going to face possibly their toughest test yet, a French team which have impressed everyone throughout the whole competition.
The good news for England was that Franck Ribery would not be starting after picking up an injury in the quarter finals and without him being in the French team it made them look weaker which could possibly give England the best chance to progress but the late injury news was that the in-form Wayne Rooney was to miss this game after picking up a knock in the pre-match warm-up.
England XI vs France
(4-3-3)Hart; Clyne, Cahill(c), Caulker, Baines; Jones, Carrick, Henderson; Sterling, Sturridge, Welbeck.
Subs: Ruddy, Jagielka, Rodriguez, Barkley, Shaw, Chamberlain, Walker, Wilshere, Lallana, Foster.
France XI vs England
(4-4-2)Lloris(c); Corchia, Varane, Umtiti, Abidal; Guilavogui, Matuidi, Payet, Tremoulinas; Giroud, Remy.
Subs: Mandanda, Rami, Pogba, Menez, Benzema, Grenier, Ruffier, Valbuena.
Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard were the two England absentees and were replaced with Phil Jones and Danny Welbeck. Hodgson also gave starts to Liverpool's Raheem Sterling and Cardiff's Steven Caulker to freshen up his defence.
The referee blew his whistle and France kicked off which made a huge roar from both the England and French fans around the stadium. Matuidi and Payet were getting familiar with the pitch and played the ball around the back for the opening couple of minutes before trying to drive forward but got stopped by Phil Jones in the England midfield.
England gained possession and played the ball forward, with Jordan Henderson, who has impressed in midfield throughout the competition found his team mate Sterling on the right, who drove forward against Abidal and reached the byline, he played a delightful cross towards the near post where Manchester United's Danny Welbeck got ahead of Umtiti and headed the ball past Lloris at his near post.
That was Welbeck's first goal in the whole of the competition and he showed his emotion by running over to his team mates who celebrated with him, it was a huge goal for both Danny Welbeck and England which looked set to carve out how the game will be for the rest of the game.
France kicked off again and tried to make something happen with Loic Remy coming deep and collected the ball of Matuidi, Remy them picked out Tremoulinas who did some good work of on the right against Baines and played it back towards Remy, who played a perfectly weighted ball towards Giroud but the Arsenal forward couldn't get there due to his lack of pace and Joe Hart collected the ball comfortably.
England then put the pressure on France as Sturridge gained the ball and played it to the feet of Danny Welbeck, who danced past a couple of challenges and gave it back to Sturridge, who saw the run of Sterling and played it towards him, but the young winger couldn't sort out his feet and the ball hit the side netting but that attack showed that England can punish France if they get caught out at the back.
Direct: Raheem Sterling(above) put in the most crosses out of the whole of the England team against France, 12.
The half continued similar to the start as France continued to chase the game and against came close as Payet picked out Remy, who was given half a yard to turn and get his shot away, which deflected off England's stand in skipper Gary Cahill but Joe Hart was able to tip the ball behind for a French corner.
Payet took the corner and found Varane in the middle, but the young Real Madrid defender couldn't get his header on target as the ball dipped over the bar and the referee blew his whistle to end the first half with England leading 1-0.
The players came out for the second half with Tremoulinas coming off for Pogba and Giroud coming off for Benzema which showed France's attacking intent for the second half.
England restarted the game and played a few passes around the back but you could clearly see how France's tactics had changed as more players started to press the England defence but they didn't feel the pressure as Cahill calmly passed the ball out to Carrick.
England started to show their dominance as Carrick was running the show in midfield, putting together a string of passes which almost lead to a goal as Sturridge beat his man and he shot was smartly saved by Tottenham's Hugo Lloris who was able the get down low to his far post and gather the ball to relieve the pressure on France.
France tried another route by playing the ball in the air but Cardiff's Steven Caulker, who got a surprise start ahead of Jagielka, was able to win all of the battles in the air and keep France out on numerous occasions, however Remy had a great chance but Everton's Leighton Baines was able to put in another exceptional block to keep England's lead in tack.
Saviour: Leighton Baines(above) made 3 important blocks which could have lead to France scoring on numerous occassions.
The clock kept ticking and France could not find a way through, there was at least 3 added minutes and France piled all of their players into the box and Hugo Lloris kept punting up long balls into the box which made it a nervy few minutes for England, however Gary Cahill cleared the ball out of the box to waste more time.
Lloris played the ball into the box for one final time before the game finished and Remy connected with the header but Danny Welbeck got in the way of the header which allowed Caulker to clear the ball, in which the referee blew his whistle for full time to send England through into the finals of the World Cup!
Roy Hodgson's Post Match Comments:
"I can't quite believe it, it hasn't settled in right now that we've made it into the final of the World Cup. You can't fault the players at all today as they put in an exceptional performance which I am proud of, the fans are proud of and most importantly, they should be proud of. France troubled us many times but we were able to hold them off and get through into the final."
"Danny's goal was very good, he got in front of his man and was able to put enough power on the ball to head it in at the near post. I am very proud of Danny for scoring that goal and I hope it gives him much needed confidence to improve as a player."