Harry Kane’s England held their nerve to win a dramatic shootout and reach the World Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday just when it appeared they were heading for yet more penalty heartbreak.
Eric Dier scored the decisive penalty to win the shootout 4-3 and send Gareth Southgate’s team through to a meeting with Sweden, who earlier beat Switzerland.
Colombia appeared on the edge of reaching their second consecutive World Cup quarter-final when Jordan Henderson’s penalty was saved by David Ospina, keeping the score at 3-2.
But Mateus Uribe then struck the crossbar and England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford saved from Carlos Bacca, extending his left arm to stop the ball as he dived to his right.
That gave England match point and Eric Dier made no mistake, beating the despairing dive of Ospina to spark wild celebrations among the players.
It is the first time England have won a shootout at the World Cup — and comes after six failures in seven at major tournaments before they came to Russia.
Southgate’s team were minutes away from victory during normal time in a bad-tempered match but Yerry Mina rose to head home an equaliser from a corner and the momentum shifted towards the South Americans.
“To get knocked down at the end like we did with that goal in added time, you know, it’s difficult to come back from that,” said Dier.
“But we did. We were ready for that. We knew what we had to do, we stayed calm, we stuck to our plan, we never panicked all the way through extra time. We knew that if it has to go to penalties, it has to go to penalties. We were ready for that.”
England, for so long underachievers on the international stage, are the only former winners left in the bottom half of the draw and, with Sweden up next, will fancy their chances of reaching the semi-finals.
Pickford is the first England goalkeeper to save a penalty in a penalty shootout at a major tournament since David Seaman at the 1998 World Cup against Argentina.
“It’s a great night to win a penalty shootout,” he said. “Ideally we don’t want to be going to a penalty shootout but we are delighted for the fans and the whole country.
“It gives us belief to go into the Sweden game and we will get straight back to business tomorrow.”
With Spain already ejected, England face Sweden in Samara on Saturday, with Russia and Croatia potential semi-final opponents.
Brazil and France lurk in the top half of the draw but Lionel Messi’s Argentina and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal are out.