England reach quarter-finals after penalty joy
Jordan Pickford’s fantastic penalty save helped England beat Colombia to set up a quarter-final meeting with Sweden on Saturday. England were seconds away from winning the game in normal time after Harry Kane put the Three Lions in front but a Colombian equaliser at the death forced extra-time and penalties.
England won a penalty shootout in a World Cup for the first time in their history to beat Colombia in a bad-tempered match in Moscow. Eric Dier scored the winning goal just moments after Jordan Pickford made a brilliant save to deny Carlos Bacca.
England looked set to be heading to victory by way of a Harry Kane penalty in the 57th minute after the England captain was subject to rough treatment at the hands of the Columbian defenders. Despite the best efforts of the South Americans to put off the Tottenham man, Kane walked away from the Columbian players who were surrounding the referee, waited until the referee gained control of the match and cooly dispatched the penalty to give England the lead.
Columbia set up their stall to frustrate England and the persistent fouling and holding onto players prevented England finding the rhythm that was so effective in the early stages of the Tunisia match or the 6-1 demolition of Panama on match day 2 of the group stage.
At times the American referee Mark Geiger struggled to keep control of this bad tempered match and as early as the 7th minute England could have had a penalty for tugging in the box. A minute later the referee warns the defenders as Kane is subjected to more rough treatment from a corner.
The talking point of the first half came on 40 minutes when Wilmar Barrios threw his head into Jordan Henderson’s chest and then made an upwards motion which made contact with the Liverpool captain’s face. The incident was spotted by the VAR team but the referee only produced a yellow card, a strange decision as violent conduct is normally deemed a red card offense.
Colombia’s attempts to unsettle England weren’t limited to the players on the pitch. As the half-time whistle blew, England’s Raheem Sterling was subjected to a shoulder barge from Colombian fitness coach Julio Urtasun as the Manchester City midfielder was jogging off the field towards the tunnel. The incident was clearly pre-meditated as TV coverage showed Urtasun smirking about the incident moments later with a colleague.
The unsporting behaviour by the Columbians continued in the second half. When Kane was awarded his penalty due to holding by Carlos Sanchez, the Columbian players surrounded the referee and such were the protests by the players that the kick was delayed for three minutes. Whilst this argument is taking place, several of the Colombians were seen trying to scuff up the penalty spot in an attempt to sabotage the spot kick.
The tactic failed as Kane scores his penalty to take his tally to six goals in his first three World Cup appearances for England. This return has only ever been bettered on three occasions in World Cup history with Argentina’s Guillermo Stabile and Germany’s Gerd Müller scoring seven and Hungary’s Sandor Kocsis hitting nine in his first three games.
Lingard felt he should have had a penalty in the 78th minute when on the counter attack he raced into the box and is caught by Davinson Sanchez. The Tottenham centre back missed the ball and appears to clip the 25-year-old Manchester United midfielder but the referee ignored the appeals.
Last gasp Colombia goal forced the match into extra time
With England attempting to run down the clock, the Colombians became much more direct and they had Yerry Mina to thank for the equaliser right on the stroke of full-time.
England’s Jordan Pickford made one of the saves of the tournament to deny Uribe from long range. Sadly for Pickford his fantastic save led to the corner that resulted in the equaliser being scored by Mina.
The 30 minutes extra time could not separate the sides which led to England fans fearing the worst as the teams headed to penalties.
These fears looked justified when Jordan Henderson’s penalty was saved by David Ospina. However, when Mateus Uribe saw his powerful shot hit the crossbar, parity was restored. Pickford saved brilliantly from Carlos Bacca and Eric Dier had the opportunity to win it for England. The Tottenham player wasn’t supposed to be on penalty duties, but an injury to Jamie Vardy late on in the game meant the 24-year-old volunteered and the defender dispatched the kick with the assurance of a striker.
It was an uncomfortable game to watch for England fans but there are plenty of positives for Gareth Southgate’s young England team, not least that they have finally won a World Cup game on penalties. Sweden are up next and the hope for England supporters is that Sweden should play a game more suited to the English style of play.