David Beckham condemns criticism aimed at England forward Raheem Sterling

Former England captain calls for nation to get behind Gareth Southgate's semi-finalists

Raheem Sterling sees a shot blocked by Andreas Granqvist in England's 2-0 win over Sweden in the World Cup quarter-final
Image: David Beckham has called on Raheem Sterling's critics to applaud England's World Cup semi-finalists

David Beckham has leaped to Raheem Sterling's defence after the forward was criticised on social media at half-time during England's World Cup quarter-final victory over Sweden.

Sterling played a key role as Gareth Southgate's men overcame Sweden 2-0 in Samara to set up a semi-final against Croatia - their first since 1990.

The Manchester City forward tormented the Swedish defence throughout but social media users chose to focus on his failure to double England's lead with a clear-cut chance before the interval.

Nev: Sterling criticism disgusting

Nev: Sterling criticism disgusting

Gary Neville: Raheem Sterling was brilliant and half-time criticism was disgusting

The criticism was vehemently challenged by Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville after the game, and his former Manchester United team-mate Beckham has also jumped to Sterling's defence.

Accompanying a screenshot of the Sky Sports article on his Instagram story, the former England captain wrote: "Haven't seen this but whatever it is its wrong.

"We are in the semi-final of a World Cup. Every player deserves to be applauded.

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England are now preparing to take on Croatia on Wednesday for a place in the World Cup final, with Sterling paying tribute to supporters after the win in Samara.

"Today, I want to thank all that have and continue to support @England as a team, this has helped us achieve what can only be described as a dream!!!" he wrote on Twitter.

"To reach the semi finals of a world cup........ WOW! We go again."

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