Sport

England knocks out Colombia on penalties to reach the quarterfinals

England knocks out Colombia on penalties to reach the quarterfinals

England had faced penalty shootouts three times at a World Cup, in 1990, 1998 and 2006 but with the help of an excellent save by goalkeeper Jordan Pickford they finally found a way.

Fans were put through the emotional mill though as the joy of Harry Kane's second half penalty turned to despair when Columbia equalised from a corner deep into injury time.

Girlfriend Megan is out in Russian Federation to support Pickford, and last night posted two pictures of herself on Instagram, one before and one after the penalty shootout.

Jordan Henderson's miss in the penalty shootout looked to give Colombia the edge, but misses from Mateus Uribe and Carlos Bacca, followed by Eric Dier's victor put England into the quarter-finals.

Supporters were fearing the worst when the match went to penalties, and sure enough England's abysmal record in shoot-outs continued as Ashley Young struck the bar and Ashley Cole's kick was saved by Gianluigi Buffon. If the English advance past unheralded Sweden, they will face the survivor of the Russia-Croatia match.

After a first shootout victory since Euro '96 - and the first ever in a World Cup - England fans really do still believe.

An average of 20.1 million watched the last 16 match in its entirety.

Colombia at least have the consolation of showcasing another star in the form of towering defender Yerry Mina, whose three goals including Tuesday's 93rd minute equaliser against England earned him the nickname "Mina de Oro" or gold mine. "I have to credit our big support team who have done a lot of work in that area over the last few months", said Southgate. "But we did", Dier said.

When, with the next kick, Eric Dier slotted away the winning penalty, it felt like a cathartic moment, and England can look ahead to the quarterfinal against Sweden in Samara on Saturday having lifted their penalty curse.

Will Colombia beat England for the first time?

Kane, Raheem Sterling and Dele Alli were among nine players recalled for England after Gareth Southgate rested the majority of his first-choice side for their final group game against Belgium.

Everyone seems to know the score; we've seen it all before.

England's always-irreverent newspaper The Sun led its front page before the game with the banner "GO KANE!" under a list of Colombia's most famous products - a none-too-subtle reference to the South American nation's notorious cocaine trade.

"It showed the togetherness and character". "If anything, we should feel freer". Whatever way you want we'll just talk about it. "You want to be involved in games that matter".

"The lads", he said, "have a chance to write their own stories now".


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