England players celebrate while Colombia react after the penalty shootout. (REUTERS/Christian Hartmann)
MOSCOW, July 2 (Reuters): England finally ended their penalties curse when they beat Colombia 4-3 in a shootout after drawing their World Cup last-16 clash 1-1 following extra time after the South Americans equalised in the 93rd minute.
England had previously lost all three World Cup shootouts and three of four in the European Championship but prevailed on Tuesday when Mateus Uribe and Carlos Bacca failed to convert, leaving Eric Dier to win the game for England
It was the first time Colombia had been involved in a World Cup shootout and they took first blood when Jordan Henderson missed his spot kick – but for once fortune smiled on England.
Earlier Harry Kane smashed in a 57th-minute penalty, his sixth goal of the tournament, and England looked to be through until Yerry Mina headed an equaliser in the third minute of stoppage time.
It was England’s first win in a knockout game since 2006 and earns them a quarter-final with Sweden, who were far from impressive in beating Switzerland 1-0 earlier on Tuesday.
Then comes a potential semi-final against hosts Russia or Croatia with Tuesday’s win appearing to vindicate – just – coach Gareth Southgate’s decision to field a second-string side in the the final group game loss to Belgium to secure an easier route.
Colombia’s hopes suffered a huge setback before kickoff when key playmaker James Rodriguez was ruled out with a calf injury and without him they took a defensive approach and never rarely threatened.
England were always the more purposeful side but they lacked the key final ball and needed a gift to take the lead.
The South Americans had been getting away with blatant holding and wrestling at each of England’s many corners and the referee’s patience finally snapped when Carlos Sanchez hauled down tournament leading scorer Kane once too often.
After four minutes of mayhem as the Colombians protested, Kane kept his cool and smashed in his third spot kick of Russia 2018.
When Juan Cuadrado blazed horribly over the bar with the goal gaping 10 minutes from time with Colombia’s first chance of the match it looked all over for them but there was a fiery sting in the tail of normal time.
England keeper Jordan Pickford made a superb save to touch wide a furious long shot by Uribe but from the following corner – Colombia’s first of the match – giant defender Mina rose highest to head in the equaliser and send the massed Colombian fans into a frenzy.
England substitute Dier missed the best chance of the extra period when he headed over the bar but he made up for it in emphatic fashion with the winning penalty in the shootout.