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England win ensures European team in final

Posted July 5th, 2018, 10:18 AM IST

England win ensures European team in final

Moscow: England turned a new leaf in their not-so-glittering World Cup history by beating Colombia on penalties here on Tuesday to enter the quarter-finals. It was England's first World Cup shootout win. They will meet Sweden on Saturday for a place in the semi-finals.

Penalties had been England's bane in 1990, 1998 and 2006. The result on Tuesday also ensured the presence of a European team in the final on July 15. England, the only country to have a played a final before, might have to beat Sweden and Croatia to reach the most important match of the tournament. But stranger things are happening in Russia, like England's shootout win and Germany's early exit.

Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford made a fine save to deny Colombia's Carlos Bacca before Eric Dier ensured a famous victory for England by calmly slotting home his penalty for a 4-3 win. England players fell in a heap to celebrate their rare shootout success. The penalty drama somewhat made up for the lack of spice in open play, which had ended 1-1.

After captain Harry Kane's penalty by the hour mark, England were a couple of minutes away from sealing a spot in the quarter-finals but Colombian defender Yerry Mina majestically headed in the equaliser to drag the match into extra time. Colombia sorely missed their key midfielder James Rodriguez who was out of the match with injury.

Neutral fans are upset that one half of the World Cup features top teams such as Belgium, Brazil and France while the other half is full of lightweights. Only one among the aforementioned three have a chance to reach the final. It's the unexpected poor performances of fancied teams such as Argentina, Germany and Spain, rather than the draw, that robbed one half of star quotient.