World Cup: England Shakes Penalty Shootout Curse, Beats Colombia 4-3

England’s players celebrated after defeating Colombia in a penalty shootout. (Credit: Yuri Kochetkov/EPA, via Shutterstock)
England’s players celebrated after defeating Colombia in a penalty shootout. (Credit: Yuri Kochetkov/EPA, via Shutterstock)

Of course it went to penalties. It always goes to penalties.

And of course everyone expected England to lose. Because England always loses when it goes to penalties.

It has become something of a theme. Or a curse. 1990. 1996. 1998. 2004. 2006. 2012. Six major tournaments in 22 years (including the European Championship), and England, brimming with high hopes and big-name players, going out in the cruelest possible way.

But this a new England, they say: a team of young players with smiles on their faces and a spring in their step and the belief that it doesn’t always have to be the way it has always been.

And this England does not lose on penalties. At least it did not on Tuesday night, outlasting a game and rugged Colombia, 4-3, in a shootout after the teams played to a 1-1 tie.

“There’s been a lot about this being a young team,” England’s Harry Kane said. “We’ve grown up a lot out there on that pitch tonight.”

Midfielder Eric Dier delivered the final blow, slamming his attempt into the lower left corner under goalkeeper David Ospina after Colombia failed to convert its last two attempts. England’s goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford, had set the stage by pawing away Carlos Bacca’s fifth attempt for Colombia with a dive to his right.

Kane, Marcus Rashford and Kieran Trippier also converted for England in the shootout, sparing Jordan Henderson from a lifetime of ignominy after his penalty, England’s third, was saved by Ospina.

“It was a night I just knew we were going to get over the line,” England Manager Gareth Southgate said.

The result came so quickly — a miss, then a make — and was in many ways so unexpected given England’s history that its players did not seem to know what to do. Dier peeled off to his right, eventually collapsing under a pile of teammates. Trippier seemed caught in some in-between, jumping in place next to the pile as the England reserves raced past him to throw themselves on top of Dier.

“It was nice to get that one off our backs,” Kane said. “It’s a huge relief to take going forward.”

They will collect themselves for what’s next when they are ready. An unlikely date with Sweden awaits in the quarterfinals on Saturday in Samara.

But even in a tournament in which all had been going smoothly for England, they did not reach the final eight without flirting with disaster. England was winning (mostly) and scoring goals (often), and as it rolled into Moscow on Tuesday even the road to the latter stages of the World Cup was opening up right in front of them.

But Colombia arrived with little interest in feeding the growing can-England-win-this-thing narrative. And even after Kane seemed to put England into cruise control by drawing and then converting a penalty in the 57th minute, the Colombians fought — a bit too roughly for English tastes at certain points —for their World Cup life to the bitter end.

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The New York Times