England have been taken to penalties on three occasions in this tournament, and lost every time. When Jordan Henderson’s third was saved by David Ospina here, it looked as if the nation was due more of the same. More torture; more heartbreak; more wry songs making light of pain and hurt, to mask how we really feel.
But this night it was different. Mateus Uribe and Carlos Bacca missed for Colombia; Kieran Trippier scored for England. Suddenly it was all down to one man. Who would it be. Jamie Vardy, who takes them for Leicester, was unused. Jesse Lingard had apparently been banging them in during pratice. Walking forward from the group…Eric Dier.
Dier, ordinary against Belgium in his only start of the tournament. Dier, who had a pass completion rate of less than 25 per cent in his first 24 minutes on the field here. Dier? Anchor man penalty taker? Had we taken leave of our senses?
Apparently not. Gareth Southgate, more than any England manager, know the agony of the shoot-out. That was one of the reasons he had his squad going through the routine, day after day, in training. If Dier was the man to hold his nerve, there must be reason, number, to back that up.
Let’s be truthful. It wasn’t the cleanest. A bit scuffed and Ospina got a hand to it. But not enough. There it was, in the net. There England were: in the quarter-finals. And all down to penalties. Not just the shoot-out, but the one Harry Kane took that should have sent put England through in normal time. The penalty that took what seemed like forever.
MATCH STATISTICS AND PENALTY SHOOTOUT
Colombia (4-3-2-1): Ospina; Arias (Zapata 115), Davinson Sanchez, Mina, Mojica; Barrios, Carlos Sanchez, Lerma (Bacca 61); Juan Cuadrado, Quintero (Muriel 87); Falcao
Booked: Barrios, Arias, Carlos Sanchez, Falcao, Bacca. Juan Cuadrado
Subs not used:, Murillo, Aguilar, Vargas, Uribe, Diaz, Izquierdo, Jose Cuadrado
Manager: Jose Pekerman
England (3-5-2): Pickford; Walker (Rashford 112), Stones, Maguire; Trippier, Henderson, Lingard, Alli (Dier 80), Young (Rose 102); Sterling (Vardy 87), Kane
Goal: Kane 57 (pen)
Booked: Henderson, Lingard
Subs not used: Butland, Welbeck, Cahill, Jones, Loftus-Cheek, Alexander-Arnold, Pope
Manager: Gareth Southgate
Falcao (Colombia) – scored
Kane (England) – scored
Juan Cuadrado (Colombia) – scored
Rashford (England) – scored
Muriel (Colombia) – scored
Henderson (England) – missed
Uribe (Colombia) – missed
Trippier (England) – scored
Bacca (Colombia) – missed
Dier (England) – scored
ENGLAND WIN 4-3 ON PENALTIES.
Three minutes and 31 seconds, to be precise. Three minutes and 31 seconds for Kane to think. Not about himself, for in these moments, individual awards are a trifle. This was time to think about his team-mates, his country, everyone whose kindness and guidance had brought him to this point.