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England manager Gareth Southgate praised his side’s resilience after they beat Colombia on penalties to reach the quarter-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Tuesday, and described the triumph as “a really special moment for our country.”
Jordan Pickford made a fantastic save and Eric Dier netted the winning spot-kick as England won a shootout at a World Cup for the first time, and their first at any major tournament since Euro 1996—they had lost five in the interim.
Southgate, who missed a crucial penalty against Germany in the semi-final of Euro 1996, praised his players’ response to seeing their 1-0 lead snatched away in the dying moment as Yerry Mina’s towering header forced extra time, per ESPN FC:
“We have fantastic supporters who have had to stand with us through decades of disappointment and this was a really special moment for our country. Today will give belief for generations to follow and not be hindered by history or expectations.
“The players have really executed everything [in the shootout] that we’ve talked about exceptionally well and we showed incredible resilience to come back from huge disappointment at the final whistle and keep our calm. It’s a special moment for us.“
Captain Harry Kane put England ahead from the spot in the 57th minute of a feisty clash at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow.
Colombia were criticised for their physical approach in the last-16 encounter as six of their players received bookings, compared to England’s two:
BBC 5 live Sport @5liveSport
"The way #COL players are behaving is a disgrace" – Chris Waddle
They have five players booked already – and we still have 25 minutes to go. 😳
📲⚽️: https://t.co/baJ6sxw999 #bbcworldcup
#WorldCup #ENGCOL https://t.co/qQ3JcB9ZW8
Jan Aage Fjortoft @JanAageFjortoft
What is wrong Colombia??? So a good team wasting it all chasing the referee in every situation
However, their manager, Jose Pekerman, was not overly impressed with England and criticised Southgate’s side for play-acting after Colombia’s exit, per ESPN FC:
“I think that people in England or others should not think of Colombia players like this. It’s a very competitive game. England have a great weapon in the air. Players fall in the box. They collide and fall. It’s hurtful. You have to try and stand in the shoes of the players. They are subject to situations which shouldn’t be present in football.
“A player fakes a foul, they are trying to get the referee to book another player. There is a lot of confusion with this type of play. All those situations are determining situations.“
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England now go on to face Sweden in the quarter-finals at the Samara Arena on Saturday.
It will be the Three Lions’ first last-eight clash at a World Cup since 2006 and a victory would put them through to the semi-finals for the first time since 1990.
Sweden came through a low-quality encounter against Switzerland on Tuesday, with Emil Forsberg netting the only goal of the game midway through the second half.
England will be favourites to beat Janne Andersson’s side, but Southgate was quick to warn against any complacency after the Colombia win, per The Independent’s Lawrence Ostlere:
“I’m now thinking about Sweden. Sweden is another team we have a poor record against, who we’ve underestimated in the past. We know exactly how they play, and it’s going to be a real tough test. We’ve talked about creating our own stories, creating our own history and we did that. I don’t want to go home yet.”