England Beat Colombia To Reach World Cup Quarter-Finals In Russia
England have beaten Colombia after a nerve-wracking penalty shootout.
Let me repeat that. ENGLAND have won a penalty shootout and are into the quarter finals of the World Cup.
They conceded a late goal during the 90 minutes that forced extra-time. After weathering a Colombia storm in the following half hour, as well as creating some chances of their own, they eventually forced their way to a win.
Cool heads under pressure- coupled with Mateus Uribe and Carlos Bacca's misses - saw the Three Lions through.
They now face Sweden in the quarter finals on Saturday.
As the game started, England's fans found themselves vastly outnumbered by the Colombians in the stadium, but as the old footballing cliché goes - it's the 11 blokes on the park who really matter.
After a long and frankly tiresome build-up, the match itself was not the most eventful one and the first period was punctuated by a couple of incidents that had very little to do with football.
First up, Wilmar Barrios seemed to headbutt Jordan Henderson, who went down like a sack of spanners, then Raheem Sterling was given a light shouldering by a Colombian coach as the teams trudged off for half time.
It's worth mentioning that Colombia were without arguably their leading attacking and creative threat, James Rodriguez. In his absence they struggled to create chances for Radamel Falcao, their other main man.
The second half started much the same, before a blatant penalty was awarded for Colombian manhandling of Harry Kane at an England corner kick.
It was time for that man, Harry Kane, to score his third penalty of the tournament.
He was made to wait for it, mind. The Tottenham striker was the coolest man in Moscow as the Colombians carried on the fine work of Spain's Sergio Ramos by acting like petulant children.
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Three whole minutes later he slotted the ball past his cross-city rival, the Arsenal goalie David Ospina.
To be quite honest, the goal was necessary to keep the nation collectively awake. It made the game come alive as the Colombians then had to try to score or go home.
On top of that, after the goal went in, the Colombians seemed to be absolutely losing their minds. They had a number of players booked for arguing with the referee and just generally complaining at every possible opportunity.
As the second half wore on, Los Cafeteros would have been disappointed not to have offered more in attack for much of the game, especially as England weren't exactly on top form.
They still might have scored too - Kyle Walker gave the ball away cheaply and gifted their opponents a chance but Juan Cuadrado could only blaze the ball wildly over the bar. Another chance was yet to come, though, as Jordan Pickford pulled off a spectacular stop to deny Andrés Mateus Uribe.
However, from the resulting corner, Yerry Mina scored a header.
The huge Barcelona centre-half rose quickest and hit the floor. The bounce took the ball into the net, despite England's best efforts to clear.
That seemed to give his team a new purpose, and they started extra-time in lively fashion. In fact, England were really hanging on, and the dreaded penalty shootout began to loom large.
England's attack offered more in the second half of extra time, but the deadlock could not be broken.
Cool heads under pressure coupled with an excellent save from Pickford eventually saw them through. Eric Dier's penalty was calmness personified and sent the players and the England fans into raptures.
To bookend with another cliché, you have to be in it to win it, and it's not about the manner in which you win, so long as you win.
That's knockout football for you, Clive.
Featured Image Credit: PA