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Talking Points: Is the World Cup really coming home to England?

Written by: Abhranil Roy

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This is the first time the Three Lions have won a penalty shootout in the World Cup since 1966.

England did the unthinkable on Tuesday night by beating Colombia on penalties in a Round of 16 match at the FIFA Workd Cup. It was the first time since 1966 that the Three Lions have won a World Cup penalty shootout, after enduring years of heartbreak from the spot.

After a cagey first half that is better forgotten, Harry Kane gave the Men in Red the lead after procuring a penalty for a foul by Carlos Sanchez. Colombia woke up after that goal and produced a flurry of attacks, only to be denied by poor passes in the final third or the resolute English defending. The Europeans finally broke down in the third minute of added-time, when Yerry Mina leaped above all to equalize with a smashing header.

Extra-time saw no change in the scoreline as a result of which, the game went to penalties. The English won the shootout 4-3, which is how history was made.

Here are five things that we learnt from the game.

Watch: Colombia 1-1 England (3-4 penalties) highlights

5. Gareth Southgate’s men can dream

Much was written in the media and talked on TV shows of England’s chances in the Mundial and however far they may go, signs of progress do exist. From Kane’s form to Raheem Sterling’s reinvigorated attitude or Harry Mcguire’s bullish defending, the Three Lions have incorporated some huge changes in their setup.

It remains to be seen if those changes will yield a similar result against Sweden on Saturday. But, for now, they can take pride in not wilting on penalties for the first time since 1966 and advancing beyond the first round of any major international tournament for the first time in 12 years.



4. Pickford underlined his class

Jordan Pickford had received criticism from Belgian keeper Thibault Courtois after the two sides met in the group stage. The Everton goalkeeper responded in spectacular fashion though, saving an outstanding volley from Mateus Uribe in normal time.

He, however, had saved his best for last and underlined his class by fiercely punching away a Carlos Bacca penalty in the shootout. It was ultimately this save that gave his side the victory and will hand a major boost to their self-belief as well.

3. Harry Kane is unstoppable

The English captain has been in tremendous form so far, notching up a tournament-high seven goals from three games. He was excellent against a Colombia side that played dirty and also scored twice from the spot.

The Tottenham man is regarded as one of the best strikers in the world and this game proved just why the likes of Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are so interested in him.


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2. VAR continues to be a major cause of dispute

The emergence of VAR in this World Cup has been met with global scepticism and this game did nothing to disprove that. Following Wilmar Barios’s double headbutt on Jordan Henderson which the referee had missed, VAR allowed the defaulter to escape with just a yellow card.

Mark Geiger, the match official did not have a good game either with players from both sides losing their temper repeatedly. A better and more composed official will be required for the quarterfinals.

1. Colombia missed James Rodriguez

Ahead of the game, the injury sustained by superstar James Rodriguez was regarded as a major cause of concern for Los Cafeteros and it proved to be just that.

With him out, the attack looked disjointed and lacking the cutting edge despite the best efforts of Radamel Falcao, Jefferson Quintero and Juan Cuadrado. The 26-year-old, who was the Golden Ball winner at the last World Cup, will forever regret this lost opportunity.

Published: Wed Jul 04, 2018 03:22 PM IST

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