The most fitting of send-offs to the Round of 16 saw England progress on penalties in a truly remarkable match.

What Happened

England set up a date with destiny against Sweden in the Quarter Finals, winning 4-3 in a penalty shootout after scores remained deadlocked at 1-1 after extra time.

Embed from Getty Images

Eric Dier netted the clinching spot kick past the outstretched hand of David Ospina, but not before nine other penalties and 120 minutes of enthralling and brutal action.

A drab first half that neither team took firm control of gave way to a vicious second stanza. Six yellow cards were produced in a 20 minute span of chaos, which also included the opening goal.

Drawing attention again in the box was Harry Kane. Brought down by Carlos Sanchez somewhat controversially, referee Mark Geiger pointed to the spot and the talismanic forward delivered, powering the ball down the middle.

The match threatened to boil over throughout the second half, with the American referee struggling to retain control of the hotly contested affair.

Embed from Getty Images

England looked in control, but Gareth Southgate’s decision to sub on Eric Dier on for Dele Alli – a centre-half for an attacking midfielder – provided Colombia the space to begin to go to work.

A frantic final 20 minutes ensued, culminating in an incredible equaliser by Yerri Mina. In the 94th minute, the Barcelona product rose tallest at the back post to header home the most incredulous of equalisers – his third goal of the tournament.

Colombia were the stronger side in extra time, threatening to break English hearts. But as is often the case, the added 30 minutes failed to draw out a deserved winner.

With penalties the final resort, it was a case of who would break first. Falcao, Kane, Juan Cuadrado, Marcus Rashford and Luis Muriel all buried convincing penalties. However, Jordan Henderson saw his magnificently saved by Ospina, with the count now at 3-2.

Embed from Getty Images

Colombia were unable to consolidate though, as Mateus Uribe thundered his spot kick into the bar. Kieran Trippier restored parity for the Three Lions, before Jordan Pickford made the crucial stop on Carlos Bacca – Colombia’s fifth penalty.

It was up to Dier to deliver the Poms from a dire situation, and the Tottenham star showed nerves of steel to hand England a Quarter Final berth.

Standout Performance

There won’t be much chatter about it, but Luis Muriel’s substitution in the 88th minute for a immobile Juan Quintero was the spark Colombia needed. The former Udinese man was all over the joint and dominated those final minutes, as well as extra time. A wonderful cameo capped off by his shootout strike, which was sadly not enough for him.

Talking Points

Is football still ‘coming home’? This morning’s performance was as unconvincing as they get but Southgate has engineered a strong spirit in this side to grind out victories, which holds them in good stead when they face Sweden – a side that aren’t afraid to play scrappy football.

It’s pure spitballing, but would Colombia have won that match with James Rodriguez on the pitch? It’s a sad outcome for Jose Pekerman and the South American nation regardless, who watched their side fall so agonisingly short on such an enormous stage.

Embed from Getty Images

What Next

Sweden v England (winner faces Russia or Croatia in SF)
12am EST
Saturday, 7th of July

Needs Work

Just two shots on target – one being a penalty – in 120 minutes of football is not up to scratch for an England side with such firepower in the final third. Harry Kane and co. will need to scrub up on their shooting against a defensively sound side in Sweden.

Goal of the Match

Luis Muriel’s penalty was the only finish not blasted home. Refreshing to see a cool head in such an intense scenario.

 

Miss of the Match

Less so a miss, more so a freakish save from Jordan Pickford off of Uribe’s scything volley. Unfortunately for Pickford, the corner resulted in Colombia’s dramatic equaliser.

 

SHARE
Adelaide-based writer, content creator and story-teller. Like one of those determined ants that require a second flick.