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England Shakes Its Penalties Curse and Saves Its World Cup

MOSCOW — Of course it went to penalties. It always goes to penalties.

And of course everyone expected England to lose. Because England always loses when it goes to penalties.

It has become something of a theme. Or a curse. 1990. 1996. 1998. 2004. 2006. 2012. Six major tournaments in two decades, and England, brimming with high hopes and big-name players, going out in the cruelest possible way.
Colombia 1 Final 1 England
England advances 3–4 on penalty shootout

But this a new England, they say. A young team with smiles on their faces and a spring in their step and the belief that it doesn’t always have to be the way it has always been.

And this England does not lose on penalties. At least it did not on Tuesday night, outlasting a game and rugged Colombia, 4-3, in a shootout after the teams played to a 1-1 tie.

Midfielder Eric Dier delivered the final blow, slamming his attempt into the lower left corner under goalkeeper David Ospina after Colombia’s final two attempts stayed out. England’s goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford, had set the stage by pawing away Carlos Bacca’s fifth attempt for Colombia with a dive to his right.

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Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford and Kieran Trippier also converted for England in the shootout, sparing Jordan Henderson from a lifetime of ignominy after his penalty was saved by Ospina.

The result came so quickly — a miss, then a make — and was in many ways so unexpected given its history that England did not seem to know what to do. Dier peeled off to his right, eventually collapsing under a pile of teammates. Trippier seemed caught in some in-between, jumping in place next to the dogpile as the England reserves raced past him to dive on the dogpile.

They can collect themselves when they’re ready. The next target is Saturday, when England has an unlikely date with Sweden in Samara.

The thrilling end did not mean England didn’t flirt with disaster first. In fact, the game, like the tournament, was all going smoothly.

England was winning (mostly) and scoring goals (often), and as it rolled into Moscow, even the road to the latter stages of the World Cup was opening up right in front of them.

But Colombia arrived with little interest in feeding the growing ‘Can England win this thing?’ narrative. And even after Kane seemed to put England into cruise control by winning and then converting a penalty in the 57th minute, the Colombians fought for their World Cup life to the bitter end.

Kane’s goal — his sixth here — had given England a 1-0 lead and pushed him clear in the race for the Golden Boot as the World Cup’s top scorer. But when Yerry Mina rose above Harry Maguire to head in the tying goal three minutes into injury time at the end of regulation, the heavily pro-Colombia crowd inside Spartak Stadium roared out of despair and right back into the game, and the feeling that England might just blow it all — again — hung in the air.

This was England’s first knockout-round win at a major tournament since 2006, when it beat Ecuador at the 2006 World Cup before falling to Portugal on penalties. The exits since then seemed to alternate between galling failure (a loss to tiny Iceland at the 2016 European Championships) and utter humiliation (a group-stage exit from the 2014 World Cup, and a 4-1 thrashing by Germany in South Africa in the one before that).

This World Cup, though, has been a complete turnaround in mood and results. England, which had long wilted under its country’s overly critical news media gaze, showed up in a positive mood, and preaching that this time — finally — would be different.

The players gave pre-tournament interviews with pleasure, then beat Tunisia in their opener and hammered Panama as a follow-up. Even a loss by their second-string against Belgium in the final group game had a silver lining: finishing second in the group placed England in what is clearly the easier half of the knockout-round bracket.

That means even the prize for England’s fistfight of a victory against Colombia is a positive: it will play unheralded Sweden — and not France or Brazil or even Uruguay or Belgium again — in the quarterfinals. The winner there gets the Russia-Croatia survivor.

That path will only raise expectations into the stratosphere, though. In his prematch news conference for the Colombia game, England Manager Gareth Southgate’s second question was effectively this: with so many good teams out of the field, don’t you have a great chance to reach the final?

Southgate stayed off the Colombian bulletin board with a few clichés, but he knows exactly what is expected — and what can go wrong. He missed the final penalty in the shootout that saw England fall out of the 1996 Euros on home soil, and then saw his country go out of a World Cup by the same fate two years later.

He talked Monday about how he liked the way his team was playing, the freedom and confidence it had shown so far, and he said he hoped it would continue. “That shouldn’t change now that we’re in the knockout phase,” he said. “If anything, we should feel freer.”

They seemed to against Colombia, even as the game turned chippy and the yellow cards came out.

But Southgate also knew it had been more than a decade since England’s last knockout-round win at a big event, and so he was sure to savor this one — both for himself, because of his past, but also because he thinks this England can paint a brighter future than its recent self-flagellating past.

“These are the games you want to be involved in,” he said of the knockouts, his voice betraying just a micron of emotion. “You want to be involved in games that matter.”

It may only get better in Russia if they continue to move clear of England’s dark soccer past.

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

Here’s how England beat Colombia, from Kevin Draper in New York:

It wasn’t pretty, and it shouldn’t have come down to it, but England advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday after defeating Colombia in a penalty shootout, after the two teams ended 120 minutes even 1-1. After being eliminated from the 1990, 1998 and 2006 World Cups on penalties, England converted four of their five kicks to top the Colombians.

England was better for most of the match, and took the lead on a 57th minute Harry Kane goal. Kane converted his third penalty of the match after he was tackled in the box. But just two minutes from time, as England was dreaming of their first quarterfinals appearance since 2006, Yerry Mina struck. The Barcelona defender scored his third header of the World Cup after a 93rd minute corner kick.
PK: England 4, Colombia 3

GOAL ENGLAND!: Eric Dier scores under Ospina! Opsina got a hand to it, but couldn’t keep the ball out. The entire English team piles on Eric Dier as they win a penalty shootout in a World Cup game for the first time ever.
PK: Colombia 3, England 3

MISS COLOMBIA!: Carlos Bacca gets his shot down the middle saved by a high Pickford arm!
PK: Colombia 3, England 3

GOAL ENGLAND!: Kieran Trippier blasts it into the top left corner.
PK: Colombia 3, England 2

MISS COLOMBIA!: Mateus Uribe smashes the crossbar!
PK: Colombia 3, England 2

MISS ENGLAND!: Jordan Henderson’s shot to the right is saved by Ospina! The placement was good, but Ospina knew where he was going.
PK: Colombia 3, England 2

GOAL COLOMBIA!: Luis Muriel feints left and gets Pickford to dive, before rolling it in to the right.
PK: Colombia 2, England 2

GOAL ENGLAND! Marcus Rashford smashes it to the left just past David Ospina’s outstretched hand.
PK: Colombia 2, England 1

GOAL COLOMBIA! Juan Cuadrado punches it high and to the left over a diving Jordan Pickford.
PK: Colombia 1, England 1

GOAL ENGLAND! Harry Kane takes a short run up and powers it low and to the left under Ospina.
PK: Colombia 1, England 0

GOAL COLOMBIA! Radamel Falcao goes high down the middle.
120’ +1: Penalties On Tap

The whistle is blown! We are going to penalties.
115’: Dier Goes Over the Bar

Eric Dier gets free for a corner, but puts it over the bar. Dier collapses on the ground afterward, knowing he should’ve done better.
113’: Rashford Enters for England

Marcus Rashford comes in for Kyle Walker, as England looks to transition to a back four.

Andrew Das: A forward to push the pace and, not for nothing, a scorer’s mind-set in case we go to penalties.
112’: Chance for England!

Danny Rose gets a through ball on the left from Jordan Henderson and gets off a clean shot. It goes across David Ospina but trickles out just past the post for a goal kick.

Andrew Das: Not sure how Danny Rose was allowed to run right through there and fire off a shot, but he was and he did and he nearly ended it all.
111’: England Runs

Another good run for England. Kane leads Vardy down the left side. Vardy tries to cross back to Lingard but it catches a defender’s leg. Throw-in for England.
106’: 15 More Minutes

England kicks off to begin the second, and last 15 minutes of extra period. A ball pops free to Jamie Vardy for a free shot, but he’s adjudged offside.

Andrew Das: A reminder that both teams have an extra sub available to them in extra time. But only Colombians are warming at the moment.
105+1’: We’re Still Tied

The first extra period comes to a close with no additional goals. Colombia was on the front foot for most of the period, and looked much more likely to score.

Andrew Das: I read a great line somewhere today: ‘Why is it that extra time “beckons” but injury time “looms”?’ It’s because no one ever wants to get to penalties, and England more than most. It has gone out on them in a half-dozen major tournament since 1996, and you just get the sense that’s where we’re going again. They have 15 minutes to avoid it.
104’: Colombia Keeps Attacking

Radamel Falcao gets a cross near the penalty spot, but his header goes wide after Harry Maguire gets just enough body to throw him off.
102’: Danny Rose Comes On for England

Ashley Young’s night is done, as he is replaced by Danny Rose. England still have a substitution left.

99’: Almost Disaster for England

What a disaster that almost was for England, and it’s the referee Geiger that saves them. A stray ball on the field distracted Maguire just as Young sent a throw-in his way. Colombia pounced on the (seeming) error, and Bacca broke in and beat Pickford. But Geiger was calling it all back the whole time, so no goal.
97’: Colombia Waits

It may surprise you, but Colombians are invested in the outcome here.
96’: Colombia the Aggressor

Suddenly Colombia look like a dangerous team, with an edge to their attack that was missing for, oh, the first 90 minutes of the game.
91’: More of the Same — Physical!

Players from each team are down and others are surrounding the referee. Free kick for England near midfield.Somehow Harry Maguire ended up with Wilmar Barrios’s shin guard.
EXTRA TIME: England 1, Colombia 1

England was two minutes away from advancing to the quarterfinals. But Mateus Uribe’s speculative long-distance shot caused a corner kick, and Yerry Mina once again gave Colombia a needed goal on just Colombia’s second scoring chance of the match.

Since each team is given another substitution in the extra period, Colombia will have one and England two.

Colombia made attacking substitutions because they were chasing a goal, while England made two defensive ones. How will that set the two teams up for the final 30 minutes?
90’ +6: England Desperate

England is desperately trying to win this game, while Colombia looks content to wait for extra time.
90’ + 4: GOAL! Colombia Equalizes!

Yerry Mina rose highest for the corner kick. He put his header into the ground, and it bounced over Kieran Trippier on the post. That’s Mina’s third goal of the World Cup.

Andrew Das: Wow. What a shot that was, and suddenly — in the dying moments — Colombia comes to life. Oh England. What have you done?
90’: Five Minutes for Colombia

The fourth official signals five minutes of stoppage time.
87’: Another Chance for Falcao

Colombia’s Falcao gets a clean shot on goal, but its from too far out and Jordan Pickford easily secures it.
81’: Chance for Colombia!

Juan Cuadrado blasts a shot over from 12 yards out on the right side. Colombia’s chance came off an English mistake. Kyle Walker held onto the ball too long at midfield, allowing Carlos Bacca to take it off him and initiate a three-on-two counterattack. That was a really disappointing finish from Cuadrado, spurning what might be Colombia’s best chance all match.

Andrew Das: The entire stadium (save the England fans) groaned as Cuadrado’s shot sailed high. He hit it so hard it caromed off the facing of the upper deck, but Colombia hasn’t seen a chance that good so far, and they may not see a better one for a bit.
81’: Eric Dier Replaces Dele Alli

Dele Alli jogs off, to be replaced by Eric Dier, a bit more defensive of a midfield presence.

Andrew Das: An attacker for defensive-minded midfielder — is a message sub. But so is Colombia’s next one: forward Luis Muriel. He’s just stripped off his warm-ups.
77’: Lingard on the Run

Jesse Lingard goes flying on a counterattack and receives the pass from Raheem Sterling in the box, but it’s tackled away by Davinson Sánchez. Lingard appeals for the penalty, but Mark Geiger isn’t interested.

Andrew Das: England FURIOUS there was no penalty on Mina’s tackle of Sterling there, with Southgate turning on the fourth official briefly to make his case. But Mina seemed to make a clean (enough) challenge, and Geiger lets us play on.
76’: Where’s Colombia?

Colombia has taken just one shot this half, and haven’t had a truly dangerous chance all game. They have 14 minutes left to produce real offense, or they will be flying home.
73’: Maguire Misses Header

Harry Maguire heads the subsequent corner over.
73’: Corner for England

Jesse Lingard and Harry Kane had a 2-on-1 inside of Colombia’s box, but Lingard couldn’t find Kane, and his pass is tackled out for a corner.
69’: Yellow for Lingard

Jesse Lingard’s turn to go into the referee’s book, for stepping on Carlos Sánchez’s foot after losing the ball.
68’: Young Hobbles Off

Ashley Young is now receiving treatment on the field after being knocked over on an attempted cross a minute ago. He hobbles off the field, but will be back on shortly.
67’: Meanwhile ...

The game has a frantic, sloppy feel to it, like either team is a mistake and two passes away from being in on goal.
64’: Game Is Getting Out of Control

Carlos Bacca, on the field for two minutes, gets a yellow card for shoving John Stones. Bacca put out his hand to help Stones up, but Stones refused to accept it.

Andrew Das: Good to see Bacca arrived swinging. On the field for only a few moments, he clips Stones when he doesn’t need to and gets a yellow. Now Kane is down. And so is Arias. Geiger needs to get this under control fast. He’s losing the game.

Rory Smith: It’s slightly curious that Colombia — still a gifted squad, even without James Rodriguez, the country’s talismanic playmaker — seem to have decided that the only route to victory (or, now, parity) is to turn the game into a tetchy, fractious scrap. This is a team capable of playing sweeping, attractive, counterattacking soccer, now focusing solely (it seems) on angering the England players. It’s not only not working, it’s proving counterproductive: it’s Colombia that seems on edge, indisciplined, picking up yellow cards in quick succession.
64’: Dele Alli Goes Over

Meanwhile, Dele Alli got a nice cross at the post but put his header over.
63’: Yellow for Falcao

Radamel Falcao picks up a yellow card as he and Yerry Mina are absolutely screaming at the referee. They seem to be angry at Harry Maguire for faking contact inside of Colombia’s box.
59’: More Friction

John Stones gets called for fouling Radamel Falcao on a long ball, and while walking over him Stones’s foot grazes Falcao’s head. This game is spiraling out of control.
58’: GOAL! Kane Delivers!

Harry Kane dispatches the penalty straight down the middle as Ospina dives to his right. Ospina almost got a foot on it.

Andrew Das: That penalty would have hit Ospina square in the chin if he hadn’t moved. But he dove, and that’s that. Great, confident penalty, and England, which has both of those things, takes a deserved lead.
56’: Yellow on Henderson

About 12 players are yelling at each other, and Jordan Henderson gets a yellow card for a slight backward head butt on Yerry Mina.


Harry Kane made a swim move around Carlos Sánchez on the corner kick, and as he was stumbling toward goal Sánchez shoved him down.

The Colombian players are surrounding American referee Mark Geiger and beseeching him to change his mind. Spoiler alert: It won’t be successful!

Andrew Das: Geiger’s finally seen something he can’t let go, and it’s Carlos Sanchez running over as they tangle for that corner. Kane gave as good as he got early, but it was a clear penalty at the key moment. Still, Geiger is taking waaaaaay too much time listening to Colombian pleas that he go see it on V.A.R.
53’: Close Call on Corner

Ashley Young puts a very dangerous ball toward the back post on the subsequent free kick, and Davinson Sánchez barely heads it out in front of Harry Maguire.
51’: England Playing a Deliberate Game

Crossed wires between Barrios and Cuadrado there costs Colombia a chance. England much calmer, more deliberate tonight. Does that read as confidence, that something good is coming and they know it? Or do they need to pick it up a bit?
46’: The Whistle Still Works

We are back underway in Moscow, and immediately Jordan Henderson is called for a foul and screams at the referee about it.

The Fox broadcast reports there was a dust-up in the tunnel as both teams emerged.
Halftime: England 0, Colombia 0

England and Colombia go into the break even at 0-0. England had more possession and the better chances in the first half, including the one truly dangerous shot, a Harry Kane header. Four or five times players shoved each other and the referee had to get involved; it wouldn’t be surprising to see a couple of cynical fouls or “accidental” elbows in the second half.

Andrew Das: There’s the whistle on a fast-paced, regularly chippy but notably scoreless half. It’s hard to really say who had the better of it, but we know this: we’re 45 minutes closer to penalties than England would like, given its history in them. They’ll keep pressing, and looking for Kane. And Mina and Colombia will keep trying to hold him off.
45+2’: Quintero Takes a Shot

Juan Quintero gets another long shot off, and this time at least gets his meek shot on goal.

Andrew Das: Wait — I haven’t seen one in a while but I think that was a SHOT by Quintero. A hush falls over the crowd as they revel in the rarity of what they’ve just seen.
45’: More Fighting

Now it’s Yerry Mina and Raheem Sterling’s turn to get into it, after they were grabbing each others’ jerseys in the box.
42’: Free Kick Goes Wide

Kieran Trippier eventually takes the free kick. He gets it over the wall and back down, but it goes wide.

39’: Losing Control

Barrios is given a yellow card, which means he misses the next match if Colombia advances.

Andrew Das: Geiger’s kind of losing control here. But in the jostling as he tried to set the wall, Barrios lifted his head directly under Henderson’s chin. He goes down like Neymar and here we go. Shoving, trainers, more shoving. And Barrios gets a yellow. Maybe we’ll play again soon here.
38’: Free Kick for England

England wins a very dangerous free kick when Harry Kane is scythed down about 22 yards out.

Tempers are flaring once again as Wilmar Barrios head-butts Jordan Henderson in the chest while scuffling around the wall. English players are making signals like they want the video assistant referee to review it.

Andrew Das: Not a smart foul by Lerma there. Kane was cornered; didn’t need to bring him down, and Colombia definitely didn’t need to give them what is a clear shooting opportunity out top.

32’: Tempers Flare

And now Juan Cuadrado and Harry Maguire get into it with each other. Tempers are beginning to flare in Moscow.
32’: Both Teams Running

Raheem Sterling, however, is faster. A minute later he deposited Sanchez on his backside at the corner of the area and cut into the middle — only to be met by two more Colombians. Frantic pace so far. It’s a cool night, though, after several really hot days, so it’ll probably keep up.
31’: Colombia Looks for Breakout

Davinson Sanchez, Mina’s center-back partner, was at midfield and sprinting looking for a lead ball on that Colombia breakout. That’s, um, optimistic. But it shows how fluid the overlapping Colombia team can be. And how fast they are EVERYWHERE.
30’: Trippier and Falcao Exchange Words

Kieran Trippier is whistled for a foul on Falcao, who gets up and starts screaming at Trippier.
24’: Chance for Colombia

Santiago Arias sends a ball through to Juan Quintero but England’s defense is alert enough to clear it.

23’: Colombia Gets Physical

Carlos Sanchez just ran over Young, kicking the whole time, to win the ball, and Quintero nutmegged his man basically just because he could. Colombia has brought some spice to this one.
16’: England Chance!

Harry Kane receives a cross at the back post, but it’s a little too deep and his header loops over. Jesse Lindgard played Kieran Trippier in down the wing, and his cross was only a few feet away from giving Kane the perfect opportunity.

Andrew Das: Pretty sure it would have been easier for Kane to score there than not, but what a cross that was. Almost caught him by surprise by how fast it arrived, and while he contorted himself, he couldn’t keep it down.

13’: Sterling Has Been Busy

Raheem Sterling has been the most dangerous player on the pitch so far. He earned England a free kick from 40 yards out (which they squandered) and also popped free for a shot from the top of the box, which was blocked.
12’: Size Difference

Mina wrestling with Sterling there was comical, like a dad who stumbled into a U14 practice but darn sure wasn’t going to let his kid turn on him in the middle.
11’: Referee Goes to Work

Ashley Young’s second corner balloons over everybody as John Stones is called for a foul. England may rue getting nothing from all of these early set pieces.

Andrew Das: Geiger, the American referee, has already given the ‘knock it off’ guys talk three times on set pieces in Colombia’s end. It’s almost as if — wait for it — the players aren’t going to listen to him.
9’: Colombia Smooth in Transition

Off another failed English corner, Colombia broke most of the way toward Jordan Pickford’s goal. They’re really looking transition quickly into counter attacks. Though the reason they have opportunities for counterattacks is because England has had most of the possession in Colombian territory
7’: Colombia Goes on Counterattack

Ashley Young’s corner was easily caught by David Ospina, who almost started Colombia on a dangerous counter attack. Some end-to-end action is developing here.

Andrew Das: Yerry Mina, Colombia’s beanpole center back, already showing how critical he will be again tonight. Has won every header into the area in the first 10 minutes — a vital role with Kane always, always lurking.
6’: Corner for England

Ashley Young’s half cross/half shot is punched out by the goalkeeper, and Colombia eventually concedes a corner.

Andrew Das: James Rodriguez just came out in a tracksuit and sat in the first row near the Colombia. He’s here, but in the stands.
5’: Hand Ball

Yerry Mina slides in for a challenge on Raheem Sterling, and the ball hits his arm. England has a free kick in an awkward spot just outside the box on the left side.

Andrew Das: Colombia fans whistling insistently every second England has the ball. Apparently England didn’t get the memo that they would prefer COLOMBIA have most of the ball today.
4’: Free Kick for Colombia

We have our first whistle. Raheem Sterling’s tackle is a little rough and Mark Geiger lets him know it.
2’: Colombia Not Pressing Early

Colombia doesn’t look to be pressing the full length of the field, but are certainly trying to make England work to bring the ball out of the back.
Kickoff! England vs. Colombia

Colombia won the pregame scene outside, the prematch warm-ups and now the anthems (in a rout). The harder job — winning a place in the quarterfinals — starts now. Enjoy.
An American Referee

The American Mark Geiger is the referee tonight. He has a bit of a reputation in the U.S., where a couple of rough games have trailed his career. But he’s a solid, respected referee in FIFA circles, and has done a ton of work as a video-assistant referee in this tournament. Today he’ll be in the center, hoping no one notices him. With a good performance, and no more Concacaf teams in the field, he might be in line for a bigger stage to come.

Andrew Das, nytimes

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