England beat Colombia on penalties
July 4, 2018 07:31 am
England finally overcame nearly 30 years of penalty pain when they beat Colombia 4-3 in a shootout on Tuesday after drawing their World Cup last-16 clash 1-1 following extra time after the South Americans had equalised in the 93rd minute.
Beginning with their 1990 semi-final heartache against West Germany, England had previously lost all three World Cup shootouts and three out of four in the European Championship and they looked on course for another nightmare when midfielder Jordan Henderson saw his spot-kick saved by David Ospina.
But Colombia’s Mateus Uribe hit the bar and England’s Jordan Pickford saved from Carlos Bacca, leaving Eric Dier to score the decisive penalty and earn a quarter-final against Sweden, while denying the Colombians a second straight run to the last eight.
England’s first knockout victory since 2006 was particularly sweet for coach Gareth Southgate, whose shootout miss decided the Euro ‘96 semi-final, and vindicated - just - his decision to field a second-string side in the final group game defeat by Belgium to secure an easier route towards the final.
He should also be given credit for insisting his players practice penalties, even bringing in a psychologist to help them, after a succession of his predecessors wrote the whole process off as a lottery beyond their control.
“We have fantastic supporters who have had to stand with us through decades of disappointment and this was a really special moment for our country,” Southgate said.
“Today will give belief for generations to follow and not be hindered by history or expectations.
“The players have really executed everything (in the shootout) that we’ve talked about exceptionally well and we showed incredible resilience to come back from huge disappointment at the final whistle and keep our calm.”
If England get past Sweden they face a potential semi-final against hosts Russia or Croatia for their first appearance in a final since winning the World Cup for the only time in 1966.
England had looked set to be going through with few dramas when tournament leading scorer Harry Kane smashed in a 57th-minute penalty, his sixth goal at the finals, only for Yerry Mina to head an equaliser in the third minute of stoppage time.
“We were so unlucky not to go through in 90 minutes,” said Kane, who also converted his shootout kick along with Marcus Rashford and Kieran Tripper. “No one laid on the floor and we stood there when it counted.”