England have banished their penalty shoot-out nightmares after victory over Columbia sealed a place in the quarter-finals for the Three Lions.
Columbia were lucky to not be down to ten men after an off-the-ball incident, but Harry Kane’s spot-kick had England on the verge of winning in normal time.
Yerry Mina shocked the stadium with a last minute equaliser, but England went against the grain to with the shoot-out with Eric Dier hitting the winning spot-kick.
England have their path to a possible World Cup final set, but a tie with Columbia was a banana-skin waiting to be slipped on. They were helped by the exclusion of the injured James Rodriguez for Columbia as well as the return of Dele Alli in the midfield. After resting key players against Belgium, this was the game Gareth Southgate had worked for so he will have been pleased to see England start well.
They passed the ball well and dictated the early tempo, but chances were hard to come by. A Kane header from a whipped Kieran Trippier cross found the roof of the net from a tight angle, but it was an off-the-ball incident that was the talk of the first half.
England had a free-kick and with the referee sorting out the wall, Jordan Henderson went down in a heap. Replays showed that Wilmar Barrios had threw his head at Henderson’s chest and then up towards his chin, but Southgate was flabbergasted when Barrios was given a yellow card. It’s a bizarre call as VAR clearly shows violent conduct but the referee was advised just to book Barrios.
Columbia were doing their best to unsettle England, with a coach even going as far as shoulder-barging Raheem Sterling as he left the field for half-time. The South Americans were looking for a repeat of David Beckham in 1998 or Wayne Rooney in 2006, but it was one of their own fouls that cost them.
Kane is in the hunt for the Golden Boot and his impressive performances have been a highlight of England’s tournament so far. It got better when he was pulled to the ground by Carlos Sanchez and he had the chance to score a third penalty of the tournament. The Tottenham man kept his clam under pressure and scored his sixth goal of the summer so far, the first England player to hit that tally since Gary Lineker in 1986.
It was key that the Three Lions would keep their heads, but a headed chance should have made it 2-0 in the 63rd minute. It was Trippier supplying a great cross again but this time Alli was on the receiving end at the back post. It was a difficult header to convert and the ball flew over to keep Columbia in this game.
They would get a diamond opportunity to break English hearts, but a sloppy finish let Kyle Walker off the hook. The Manchester City was playing only his sixth game as a centre-back for his country, but was caught in possession in a dangerous area. Carlos Bacca timed his pass nicely but ex-Chelsea man Juan Cuadrado was wasteful with his finish from 15 yards as he blasted over.
Jordan Pickford took some flack for a shaky performance against Belgium on Thursday but he showed his worth with a superb diving save to keep out a long-range effort from Mateus Uribe.
However, Columbia got their dramatic equaliser with just a minute to go from the resulting corner. It was a lovely cross in from Cuadrado from the corner and a lovely header from Mina which sparked wild celebrations from inside of the stadium, which was filled mainly by Columbians. Trippier got a head to it on the line, but couldn’t keep it out and England were deflated as we headed into extra-time.
In extra-time, the game got a bit stop-start with nerves taking over but England nearly had their winner through an unlikely source. Henderson’s nice pass played in the on-rushing wing-back Danny Rose but the want away Tottenham man saw his low drive fly across the goal and away to safety for Columbia.
Another chance came minutes later and it was unsurprisingly from a set-piece. Tripper’s delivery fell perfectly for the totally unmarked Dier, but the substitute headed off target from a guilt-edge position. He should have scored, but Southgate was left rueing his side’s luck as the dreaded penalty shoot-out loomed.
When Jordan Henderson saw his penalty saved by David Ospina, the dread was familiar but Uribe hit the crossbar and Carlos Bacca saw his penalty saved by Pickford. It was left for Dier to step up and with all the tension, the defensive midfielder was unflappable as he found the bottom corner to win the tie for England.