England became the last team to qualify for the World Cup quarter-finals after a dramatic penalty shootout as favourites Brazil and fancied France trained their sights on their last-eight opponents.
England’s victory against Colombia takes Gareth Southgate’s team into what looks like a winnable match against Sweden, who edged out Switzerland 1-0 earlier on Tuesday.
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Harry Kane believes Gareth Southgate’s England side came of age in Moscow after navigating a dramatic penalty shootout to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.
Kane thought he had seen off a fractious Colombia side in normal time when he nervelessly converted a second half penalty – his sixth goal of the tournament and third spot-kick.
But Yerry Mina’s injury-time header levelled things, putting an exhausted England through half-an-hour of tension in extra-time followed by a nerve-shredding shootout.
The Three Lions came through, as they had only done once before in their previous seven attempts, with Kane’s opener setting the tone, Jordan Pickford saving at a crucial moment and Eric Dier slotting the winner.
Summing up the evening’s events for the least experienced side left in the draw, Kane said: “Obviously we’d spoken a lot about being an inexperienced and young team, but we grew up a lot on that pitch.
“There were mixed emotions, highs and lows, even in the penalty shoot-out. We were behind, and wanting Pickers to save one, and he did. It showed our mentality.
“It showed the togetherness and character. These are the moments you really see that. It’s a big night for England.
“This will give us more belief than ever, and the fans more belief than ever back home.”
England had looked bereft when Colombia drew level in the dying seconds of a match that had long since escaped the control of the referee.
But with tempers flaring, England held their nerve.
“We were so unlucky to concede in the last minute, but we stood up, we were tall and didn’t let it affect us,” said the captain.
“We knew we had extra-time and the penalty shoot-out. It showed the togetherness and character. These are the moments you really see that. It’s a big night for England.”
Gareth Southgate heaped praise on his group after exorcising England’s penalty demons to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.
Having lost six of seven shootouts in major tournament history, fans were left rubbing their eyes in disbelief as the Three Lions rallied amid disappointment and controversy to beat Colombia in a frenetic last-16 clash in Moscow.
England recovered manfully from the gut punch of seeing Harry Kane’s spot-kick cancelled out in stoppage-time by Yerry Mina, which took the match to extra-time and eventually penalties with the score remaining 1-1.
But where previous generations have floundered, Southgate’s men flourished.
While Jordan Henderson saw his penalty saved, Mateus Uribe’s attempt rattled the bar and goalkeeper Jordan Pickford denied Carlos Bacca as Eric Dier stepped up to secure a 4-3 win that will long in the memory.
“Well, it will never be off my back sadly,” Southgate said, referring to his missed penalty at Euro 96. “That’s something that will live with me forever.
“But today is a special moment for this team and it’ll hopefully give belief to the generations of players that will follow because they can see what is happened.
“In life, we always have to believe in what is possible and not be hindered by history or the expectations.
“I think these young players are showing that. They’re enjoying the tournament, and we’re looking forward now to preparing for the quarter-final.”
Sweden now await in Samara on Saturday – a match they approach buoyed by a win secured in adversity.
Wilmar Barrios should have seen red for headbutting Henderson in the first half but England kept composure and streetwise attitude against a Colombia side attempting to outfight in the absence of star James Rodriguez.
“I am really proud of the way my team played,” Southgate said.
“I thought we controlled the game in the 90 minutes. I thought we played with great discipline.
“We were very composed in our use of the ball, and in a big game I think that was impressive from a young group of players.
“We then had to keep our discipline several times, which was outstanding.
“And we had a cruel blow on 90 minutes, which we then had to show incredible resilience to come back from.
“Although for 10 minutes maybe we were knocked, we then were back in control of the game, trying to push for the win but not leaving ourselves exposed.
“It’s a night when I knew we were going to get over the line.
“I just felt we had the resilience and belief to get over the line, whatever it was going to take.”