England v Colombia: Six Talking Points
Pinch us, are we still dreaming? England have finally won a penalty shootout at a World Cup.
Here are six reflections on last night’s game…
Two curses lifted in one night
Over two decades of hurt were lifted as Eric Dier consigned England’s penalty curse to the dustbin of history. Of course, this being England, there was inevitably a wobble before the sweet taste of spot-kick victory as Jordan Henderson briefly filled the role of 2018 pantomime villain.
With this exciting new generation of players proving they can overcome psychological torment and win from 12 yards, now nothing seems out of reach for Gareth Southgate’s side. The result will also be a relief for ITV and their appalling win ratio record when it comes to England games – although commentator Clive Tyldesley certainly did his best to keep the jinx alive.
Colombia got their just deserts
Much of the pre-match talk focused on how Colombia had the attacking dynamism to really punish England, but their decision to turn the game into a battle royale ultimately backfired as England stayed resolute and refused to engage with their intimidation tactics.
The Colombians only decided to start playing as time was running out on their campaign. If Jose Pekerman’s side had cut out the antics and unleashed some of the talent they undoubtedly have in their locker, an extended run in the competition would have been more than justified. On that showing, the Colombians deserved nothing.
England still need to guard against complacency
Amid all the excitement of finally breaking one of football’s longest unwanted statistics, England are very lucky to have a manager as level-headed as Gareth Southgate. Once the euphoria dies down, he will be all too aware that England were their own worst enemy last night, failing to grab a killer second goal and dropping far too deep as stoppage time approached.
England can be cautiously optimistic about their chances in this competition, but caution should be the watchword as he looks to iron out some of the obvious flaws from last night’s performance.
Goals are still proving hard to come by
England are still only one Kane injury away from widespread national panic. As the tournament progresses, some of his teammates will need to step up and show more composure in front of goal if 2018 is really going to usher in a new dawn for English football.
Kane steps up to the plate as Captain Fantastic
Unquestionably England’s man of the match in Moscow, Kane has the in-game attitude to matches to become a truly great England captain. Even when chances are at a premium for the Spurs striker, his ability to win free kicks and stall opposition momentum at crucial moments shows maturity beyond his years. At 24, that side of his game will only improve too.
Pickford hands out the perfect response to his critics
Unfairly maligned after the Belgium game, Pickford’s extraordinary save just before Colombia’s equaliser was right up there with Gordon Banks but may well be forgotten in the history books given what happened moments later.
The Everton man’s vital penalty save wasn’t exactly bad either as he handed England the momentum they needed to advance to the Quarter Finals.
All images sourced from PA Images
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