FIFA World Cup: Day Nineteen Column

discusses *that* England victory and their opponents, Sweden

After two days since the England match I think I’ve just about recovered to write about it.

The game against Colombia was incredibly bitty and scrappy, with Colombia providing some top notch South American shithousing throughout the match, providing some efforts to make Neymar, Luis Suarez or Sergio Ramos proud.

After England took the lead through yet another set piece after Harry Kane proves to be a human punching bag for opposition teams in the area. His penalty was calmly slotted home straight down the middle after the Colombia players tried to dig a crater on the penalty spot.

The match wasn’t filled with great chances with Colombia’s best chance springing from Kyle Walker’s mistake in possession. The ball eventually arrived at former Chelsea man Juan Cuadrado who blazed way over the bar. Just as it was looking like England were about to hold on for their first knockout victory in 12 years as Jordan Pickford magnificently saved from Uribe’s 35-yard volley. However, heartbreak was just around the corner with Barcelona centre-back Yerry Mina towering a header home to notch his third goal of the tournament, joining Franz Beckenbauer and Paul Breitner as the only centre backs to score three or more goals in a single World Cup.

It’s happening again isn’t it, just when England get it right we throw it all away, that seemed to be the case for the first part of extra time as England could barely get out of their own half. However, with Walker substituted for Rashford with cramp, Eric Dier in a more defensive role allowed England a bit more attacking threat, but unfortunately, they could not find that all important winner.

Penalties, not penalties, not again.

After one win in five tournament shootouts and no wins at the World Cup England hoped to cleanse those demons of 2004 and 2006 and Southgate his penalty miss at Euro ‘96. However, there seems to be a different aura around this England side, one of hope and self-belief, this was epitomised by the fact that even after missing the first penalty of the shoot-out England kept calm and managed to convert their next two as Colombia failed convert their next two, the highlight being an outstanding save from Pickford from Carlos Bacca to secure England’s place in the quarter-final.

The earlier game saw Sweden come out as winners as they edged past Switzerland with an Emil Forsberg deflected strike. In an extremely uneventful match, it’s certainly 90 minutes of my life that I’m never going to get back.

England’s quarter-final match then, will be a repeat of the 2006 group match, which saw that amazing Joe Cole volley. The worry going into the match surely has to be England’s lack of goal threat from open play, and whilst we look extremely dangerous from set-pieces, England have only one open play goal (Jesse Lingard vs Panama), this is something that desperately needs to change if we are to progress deeper into the competition.

After winning our first shoot-out in 22 years can you really believe anything other than its coming home?

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