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England break penalty voodoo, beat Colombia to reach FIFA World Cup 2018 quarters

Jordan Pickford saved brilliantly from Carlos Bacca and Eric Dier stepped up to send England into the FIFA World Cup 2018 quarter-finals after beating Colombia on Tuesday.

football Updated: Jul 04, 2018 02:56 IST
Bhargab Sarmah
Bhargab Sarmah
Hindustan times, Moscow
FIFA World Cup 2018,Fifa World Cup,World Cup Russia
England players celebrate winning the penalty shootout against Colombia.(REUTERS)

England finally broke their penalty shootout voodoo at major tournaments as Jordan Pickford saved from Carlos Bacca and Eric Dier held his nerve to help Gareth Southgate’s side beat Colombia 4-3 in penalties and set up a World Cup quarterfinal clash against Sweden, at the Otkritie Arena here on Tuesday.

After goals from Harry Kane and Yerry Mina, the proceedings had been levelled at 1-1. Jordan Henderson had his effort saved in the shootout while Matesu Uribe hit the bar for Colombia before Pickford kept Bacca’s shot out. Dier finished off the tie by scoring his.

The game had been off to a cagey start as Colombia sat deep and England, despite their pace, offered little penetration going forward.

With Southgate making nine changes to the side that had lost 1-0 to Belgium in their last group game, which had seen England test their bench, the 1966 world champions controlled more of the ball.

Colombia played compact defensive line and countered England’s superiority on the ball with an often aggressive, physical approach. There was little in terms of entertainment for the neutral as Colombia managed to stave off England’s attack that, with every passing minute, seemed to be missing a genuine playmaker.

With James Rodriguez failing to recover in time for the game, the Bayern Munich star’s absence was felt on the pitch as Colombia struggled to create any chance of significance.

As the game progressed, the feistiness on the pitch grew. In the 39 minute, a free kick for England just outside the box led to a mini-skirmish inside the Colombian box. It was then that Wilmar Barrios head-butted England’s Henderson in the chest. The referee consulted the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) but much to the fury of the England bench, only booked the Colombian midfielder.

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England’s protests went in vain and just before half-time, Dele Alli, who had been a passenger for majority of the proceedings so far, went down clutching his calf. This had been his first involvement in the team since picking up a calf strain in the opening game against Tunisia.

Nevertheless, Alli returned to the field and continued in the second half. He, however, remained more of a nondescript figure as Colombia’s physical game was starting to frustrate the English side.

Then in the 55th minute, Carlos Sanchez brought down Kane inside the box, leading to the referee pointing to the spot. Carlos Sanchez went into the referee’s book. Three minutes earlier, Santiago Arias had been shown a yellow card for a foul on Kane.

The Colombian players surrounded the referee, voicing their protestations over the free kick. It was now England’s Jordan Henderson who made his way into the referee’s notebook for showing dissent.

The crowd finally dispersed from the penalty box and Kane stepped up to calmly score, hammering the ball down the middle of the net.

Tension started to boil over in the ensuing minutes as Radamel Falcao, Bacca and Jesse Lingard were all shown yellows.

In what was turning out to be one of the most physical games of the tournament, Colombia, in particular, were starting to risk the possibility of going a man down.

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Colombia coach Jose Pekerman threw forward Carlos Bacca into the mix as he sought to bring in a sense of urgency into his side.

England brought on Dier and Jamie Vardy for Alli and Raheem Sterling, respectively, in response.

Bacca’s involvement, however, helped his side create their first big chance of the game in the 81st minute when he broke down the middle. With Cuadrado rushing down the right, he passed the ball to the latter.

Cuadrado failed to keep his shot down and his shot went over without troubling England keeper Pickford.

The game still seemed to be in control of England as the game entered stoppage time. With two minutes of injury time gone, substitute Uribe let fly a shot from outside the box.

Pickford dived to his left and managed to keep it out. Colombia custodian David Ospina rushed down to the England box as the South Americans attempted one final attempt at grabbing an equaliser.

And then, with England just a couple of minutes away from a place in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2006, Southgate’s side failed to mark Yerry Mina, who rose high to head in his third goal of the tournament.

The vast majority of the crowd at the Otkritie Arena was sent into delirium.

Extra time ensued. Colombia, egged on by the crowd, suddenly found themselves on top as they enjoyed a period of dominance.

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Pekerman’s side were seeing more of the ball in midfield and Southgate’s introductions did little to propel England.

England substituted in Marcus Rashford for one final go at Colombia and Pekerman immediately responded by replacing Arias with Cristian Zapata in defence.

Both sides failed to create one final chance, however. For the third time in this Round 16, it was up to penalties to decide the winner of the game.

Falcao and Kane stepped up first for each side and both confidently dispatched their spot kicks into the back of the net.

Cuadrado and Rashford followed next. Neither made any mistake from their efforts.

It was Henderson’s turn next. The Liverpool skipper took a short run-up and took his shot. Ospina dived correctly to his left to keep it out. Advantage Colombia!

It was Uribe’s turn to make the advantage count. The Colombia substitute, however, hit the top right of the goal frame.

Kieran Trippier went forward next and converted his penalty to level the shootout.

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Bacca came up next, and this time, Pickford kept the shot out. Colombia were on the edge now.

All England needed was for Dier to score from his effort. The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder didn’t disappoint his side, sending his penalty past Ospina to secure England’s place in the quarterfinals.

The few thousands of England fans, most of them sitting behind the other goal and outsung till till point, burst out into collective a rendition of ‘England’s going all the way’.

First Published: Jul 04, 2018 02:45 IST