Steve Borthwick's men march into the last four after emerging on top from a thrilling contest in Marseille
Owen Farrell eventually kicked England into the Rugby World Cup semi-finals after a courageous comeback from Fiji saw them fall just short of making history in a game that went into the 86th minute before finishing 30-24.
England twice built substantial leads. First-half tries by centres Manu Tuilagi and Joe Marchant put them 15-3 up and, despite a score from Fiji’s Viliame Mata, they went in 21-10 ahead at half-time.
A Farrell penalty gave England a 14-point cushion but the Pacific Islanders roared back into the contest in phenomenal style. Replacement prop Penai Ravai stormed over before Vilimoni Botitu scored four minutes later to tie things up with ten minutes to go, teeing up a thrilling finale.
To their credit, England immediately regained the ascendancy and after a few phases attempting to break through, skipper Farrell took inspiration from his great mate and replacement George Ford by dropping into the pocket and slotting the easiest of drop-goals.
Watch as England into World Cup semi-finals
Another Farrell penalty put England six points up but the game went as deep as the 86th minute after the captain was penalised for a deliberate knock-on. The result was eventually secured by Courtney Lawes’s turnover as the Flying Fijians simultaneously sunk to their knees in abject disappointment.
Farrell was named Player of the Match and said: “They are a tough, tough team. I thought we started the game really well, we got after it in the first half. But we always knew Fiji were going to have good patches.”
England head coach Steve Borthwick refused to say if he’d prefer to face France or South Africa in the semi-finals but credited his players for bouncing back from conceding two tries in just four minutes in a frantic end to the match.
He said: “That’s credit to the players for dealing with it. What a performance by Fiji, not just tonight but at this World Cup. We knew it was going to be a tough game and it certainly was.
“For large parts of the game we controlled it. There was the moment where Fiji scored two back-to-back tries. But what we needed to do was stay composed and find a way to get back on top of the scoreboard and that’s what the players did.”