England made it out of the knockout stage with a few bumps and bruises as they beat Colombia on penalty kicks on Tuesday night in Russia.
Historically speaking, penalty kicks have a tendency to be particularly cruel to the English, having been eliminated out of 6 World Cups and European Championships in the past 22 years. The young team showed today that they don't believe in curses.
In a particularly ugly match, both teams combining for 36 called fouls, as well as 30 shot attempts. While many would appropriate Colombia's chippy play to being without their primary striking force in James Rodriguez, others would argue the poor officiating by Mike Geiger led to a loss of control over both teams. Geiger made several unsure calls early on, as well as let himself be swayed by lengthy discussions with players.
AS Monaco Colombia striker Radamel Falcao accused the American ref of being bias against the South Americans, claiming he "always made calls to favour England" (ESPN.com). Falcao also did not support the fact that Geiger only spoke English. The Colombians received 6 yellow cards during the match.
England were the first to strike in the 53rd minute when a penalty was awarded off of a foul by Colombian midfielder Carlos Sánchez Moreno. Harry Kane stepped up the spot with confidence and netted the ball past goalkeeper David Ospina. The Colombians retorted with a stunning equalizer in the 93rd minute with a header off a corner by Barcelona centre-back Yerry Mina.
After remaining level through extra time, two players became heroes for the English: goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and midfielder Eric Dier. Finding themselves tied 3-3 in the final minutes of the shootout, Colombian Carlos Bacca stepped up to the spot and sent a hard-hit ball to Pickford's right side, which the Everton goalkeeper denied. After taking a long moment of concentration, Dier sent the ball ankle-high toward the right post and past Ospina to seal England's advancement into the final 8.
The English will clash with Sweden in the quarterfinals on Saturday, July 7th at 7:00am PST.