Analysis: Ice-cool England hold nerve from the spot as tests get tougher
Written by: Rohan Philip
Gareth Southgate's men let a lead slip late on but progressed after a dramatic penalty shootout.
In the first half, Kane epitomized what a modern centre forward has to be, with spectacular hold-up play bringing the likes of Raheem Sterling and Jesse Lingard the chance to move into the final third of the pitch, but also carrying out something that this England side have done very effectively over Southgate’s tenure, in being fluid from a positional point of view and dropping deep into midfield.
Kane was allowed only one clear cut opportunity in the first half, which came as a result of perhaps one of England’s most important players in Jesse Lingard. The Manchester United man found himself in a pocket of space as he always seems to do as he set up Kieran Trippier to deliver a killer cross into the box.
England’s defensive grouping of John Stones, Kyle Walker and Harry Maguire have been a revelation so far in this tournament. They again put in a very assured performance against the South Americans, making sure that the likes of Radamel Falcao and Juan Cuadrado were peripheral figures for much of the match, barring the controversial incidents that speckled the first half.
Maguire was able to consistently carry the ball deep into the opposition half on multiple occasions, proving again why he is regarded as one of the Premier League’s best defenders. Colombia’s indiscipline was soon punished when Carlos Sanchez grappled Kane to the ground in the penalty box, as has been the trend for teams facing England so far in the competition.
The England captain stayed calm in the face of Colombian chaos and put the Three lions into the lead. The Colombians grew into the second half and began to play as they should have all game, by finally playing balls into the channels behind the English defence and soon reaped the rewards as the insatiable YerRY Mina rose above all the rest to head the ball past Jodan Pickford and into the net, continuing England’s clean sheet drought.
Extra-time saw both sides wilt with tiredness as they spurned the chances that came their way and the match went to penalties. Pickford denied Carlos Bacca from the spot before Eric Dier sent the Three Lions into the quarterfinals for the first time since 2006. One can only imagine how valuable the injured James Rodriguez would have been in the game. It could have been very different.
England will play Sweden in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
Published: Wed Jul 04, 2018 03:16 AM IST