England pip Colombia on penalties to enter FIFA World cup quarters

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Moscow, July 4 (IANS) England survived a penalty shootout for the first time in their FIFA World Cup history as they overcame a combative Colombian team with a 4-3 (1-1) victory on penalties here on Tuesday to set-up a quarter-final against Sweden.

Harry Kane marked his sixth goal of the tournament as he converted a penalty to give England the lead in the 57th minute but Colombia bagged their equaliser in the third minute of the injury time when Yerry Mina headed into the net from a corner, taking the game to extra time.

With no goal scored in the extra time, the match was decided via penalty shootout, where England prevailed, with Carlos Bacca and Mateus Uribe failing to convert for Colombia. Jordan Hendersen missed out for England but Kane, Marcus Rashford, Kieran Trippier and Eric Dier one after other.

The win takes England to the last eight stage for the first time in 12 years and for a place in the semi-finals after a gap of 28 years, they will battle Sweden, who beat Switzerland earlier in the day.

Gareth Southgate-coached played with freedom since the first beginning and when the tense moment of penalty shootout took place, they dealt it with coolness, unlike the English teams of the past in 1990, 1998 and 2006 when they suffocated at penalty shootouts.

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Southgate fielded the same starting lineup as the side’s opener against Tunisia in the group phase, playing a 3-5-2 formation. In the Colombian side, largely to fans’ disappointment, star playmaker James Rodriguez wasn’t among the starters due to an injury. They played a 4-3-2-1 formation.

England launched fast attacks and created a few threats through some early set pieces which were largely blocked by the Colombian side. Inside the 10 minutes, a free-kick position just inide the box on the lft-hand side was tempting but Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina was alert.

The first real chance for England came in the 16th minute, when captain Kane, receiving a Kieran Trippier cross from the right, strained hi neck to head towards a half-empty net, but the ball went over the bar.

In the 39th minute, Kane was brought down and England was awarded a free kick, but Trippier kicked the ball wide.

Meanwhile, Colombia’s attempts to launch counter attacks were also in vain in front of England’s defense, though having come out unscathed from early pressure exerted by the Europeans, they had their time of ball possession.

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In the injury time, Colombia made a threat with a Juan Quintero shot, but the ball bounced and keeper Jordan Pickford of England held it fast.

Nine minutes into the second half, Carlos Sanchez fouled Kane inside the box while defending a corner, leading to a penalty. Kane stepped up and shot down the middle as Ospina dived to his right, failing to block the penalty.

England continued with the momentum as in the 63rd minute, Trippier curled in a fine cross which was met by Alli with a header from a difficult angle on the left but it went over the bar.

The European team unsuccessfully appealed for a penalty after Sterling led a counter-attack and side-passed to the right where Lingaard raced inside the box and was brought down by his Tottenham club-mate Davinson Sanchez in the 76th minute.

Colombia made couple of attacking substituions and pressed high and sensed a perfect opportunity when Carlos Bacca snatched a ball away from Walker near the half-way line on the left andpased it to Cudrado on the right-hand side. The latter blazed the ball outside the right bar from 18 yards.

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Colombia’s moment to pull level came in the injury time when Mateus Uribe fired in a magnificent shot from over 25 yards and keeper Pickford flung himself across goal to make a superb finger-tip save, resulting in a corner. From the right, Cuadrado delivered a perfect corner as Mina jumped high to head it past the English defence at the left post to take the game to the extra time.

The 30 minutes of extra time saw both teams dropping their intensity and involving with some heated arguments –which were also seen in the first 90 minutes.

As the 30 minutes of extra time yielded no goal, penalty shootout began. Radamel Falco, Cuadrado and Luis Muriel scored the first three attempts for Colombia, while England’s third attmept, from Hendersen was saved by Ospina, giving the South Americans a 3-2 lead.

Uribe was denied by the cross-bar, while Trippier levelled 3-3 for England. Bacca had his spot-kick saved by Pickford, while Dier converted England’s fifth attempt to give his side a 4-3 win.

–IANS

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