For the first time in England’s history, they (WE) have won a World Cup penalty shoot-out. They beat Columbia 4-3 on penalties after it finished 1-1 after extra time in Spartak Moscow, in Russia.
Change in Fortune?
Jordan Pickford and Eric Dier were the heroes as England just got over the line against Columbia in their first penalty shoot-out win since Euro 96’. Penalties loomed after a 1-1 scoreline after extra time, and if you don’t know already, England and penalties are not a good mix. England penalty losses include World Cup 90’, Euro 96’, World Cup 98’, Euro 04’, World Cup 06’ and Euro 12’. In a way, maybe winning on penalties was better than closing out the game at 1-0. By that I mean that, we now cannot be stopped by the mentality of the England curse that ‘oh no it’s penalties, we always lose these’, we should take the positive momentum that if we face them again we can be comfortable that we’ve been here before and can do this. A positive mentality is key and to put the ‘penalty ghost’ behind us is a step in the right direction.
Gareth Southgate missed the decisive penalty in Euro 96 against Germany at Wembley Stadium. Such a beautiful sense of redemption for Gareth Southgate to become the first England manager to EVER win a World Cup penalty shootout. So far, England fans all over the globe have been proud of the efforts so far and if we can go further surely he could be due a knighthood? Alright maybe that’s a bit far, but credit for the changes behind the scenes and evident culture change is due for the Englishman.
However, Southgate should be not without his criticism as I think that England would have avoided penalties if he adapted and made substitutions earlier as it was evident that players such as Dele Alli who wasn’t fit, should have been replaced earlier and Jordan Henderson needed more help due to his fatigue setting in around the 70th minute as our intensity dropped and this could have been worse than escaping with a penalty victory. Southgate’s approach to rotate against Belgium in the final group game looks great now but could have come under fire if the side lost to Columbia due to the idea that this side of the bracket is more open. I think even if we had lost tonight that he made the correct decision and now that we edged Columbia we should carry this momentum onto Saturday and keep this positivity going.
Dele Alli for me was not good enough and we all know he has the talent but on the back of his injury in match day one against Tunisia, and did not look match fit at all and should have been subbed as he did not produce much at all. In my opinion, I wouldn’t start Dele Alli in the next game against Sweden on Saturday. I think that the link up between Alli, Sterling, Lingard and Kane was okay for first 30 minutes and that’s when we played our best but after that the link up play looked poor and maybe to mute Sweden’s Emil Forsberg the addition of Eric Dier to help Jordan Henderson would be a good tactical decision.
Trippier proving his worth
I was initially sceptical of the idea that Kieran Trippier should be the right-wing back for England at a World Cup but he has well and truly been a stand out performer and changed my opinion on him. Once again he was England’s biggest creator as he created 5 chances in the Columbia game and many against Tunisia and Panama. Trippier has proven to be a solid commodity at not only defending but attacking with his delivery and set-piece speciality and his crucial penalty which swayed the momentum in the shoot-out was exceptional.
Harry Kane led the line exceptionally and practically played the final 20 minutes on one leg and still thundered his penalty in the shoot-out home and that made him the perfect 4 for 4 in this world cup. Kane had little assistance but was great at keeping possession and was fouled 9 times, the most since Alan Shearer in World Cup 98′ against Tunisia.
Harry Maguire was once again great as he was a calming towering presence on the ball and was efficient in possession. Maguire is not only solid at the back but a threat offensively and very nearly scored for the 3 Lions. An incredible turn around for the Leicester City man who surely will be receiving inquests from big teams after this tournament as he was previously at the European Championships with his friends in France, 2016.
Jordan Pickford made a stunning save from Columbia’s Mateus Uribe was not even given a second look before allowing the dangerous Columbian’s convert from the corner but Henderson leaving his man, Yerry Mina, was the fault from the set-piece. Pickford then made a stunning save from Carlos Bacca to help England record their 2nd penalty shoot-out win in 8 attempts.
Story of the Game
England dominated for 80 minutes and were rewarded with a Harry Kane spot kick in 57th minute, but fell under the mentality of ‘playing not to lose’, rather than the successful ‘playing to win’. Columbia aimed to ‘kick their way to the quarter finals’ as they could Harry Kane 9 times and picked up 6 bookings (felt like more) in a rough last 16 tie. England transformed from being on the front foot to wanting to rarely touching the ball in the oppositions half. After the Yerry Mina goal, Columbia dominated the first half of extra time but failed to create a clear chance and England balanced the extra time out in the 2nd half, with Danny Rose going close in the closing stages. Penalties were to decide the competitions 3rd last 16 tie and England disputed missing initially composed themselves and a key miss and Jordan Pickford save, gave Eric Dier the opportunity to beat Arsenal’s David Ospina from 12 yards. I honestly couldn’t believe that we had this opportunity after the Jordan Henderson miss but thankfully Dier found the back of the net just…as it was not a great penalty but as long as it counted, that is all that matters. The definition of stress does not define that game as the rollercoaster of emotions was only something sport can produce and it was bloody epic.
Semi-final at Stake
Sweden are England’s quarter final opponents and is a tie that England approach as favourites, in this Samara Arena. Sweden edged Switzerland in a close contest and Sweden will aim to hit England on the counter attack due to Sweden’s 4-4-2 approach and they will aim to frustrate England, as Sweden have reached this stage we should not underestimate the fellow European side. We should hope to carry on our positive momentum onto this 2nd knockout tie.