By Olawale Alabi
Colombia were left rueing their luck Tuesday night in Moscow as they failed to take advantage in the long run to crash out of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Playing at the Spartak Stadium before a crowd of 44,190 which had South Americans in an overwhelming number, Colombia lost 4-5 to England after a penalty kicks shootout.
The match had been heading towards a lone goal win until Yerry Mina rose to the occasion to draw his side level at 1-1 and drag play into extra time.
Even when the shootout looked to be going their way, after Jordan Henderson missed his kick for a 3-2 lead for Colombia, the South Americans still failed to take advantage.
It only took misses by Mateus Uribe and Carlos Bacca, and good efforts by Kieran Trippier and Eric Dier for England to win and finally shake off their penalty kicks curse.
England had previously lost all three World Cup shootouts and three out of four in the European Championship.
After Mina’s equaliser in the third minute of added time, it had looked as if another nightmare was in the offing when Henderson’s kick was saved by David Ospina.
As Uribe hit the bar and Jordan Pickford saved from Bacca, the pendulum swung for England to earn a quarter-final date against Sweden and deny Colombia another last eight place.
Earlier in the game, Harry Kane had scored a 57th minute penalty kick for his sixth goal at the finals in Russia, and England looked to be through until Mina’s equaliser.
England had been the better side, and when Carlos Sanchez brought down Kane, they got a deserved lead through a penalty kick the England captain scored.
When Juan Cuadrado shot over the bar 10 minutes from time with Colombia’s first chance of the match, England should not have started celebrating.
Pickford did well to touch wide from Uribe, but the following corner kick saw Mina rising highest for the equaliser to take the game into extra time.
However, while Radamel Falcao, Cuadrado and Luis Muriel scored their kicks, their teammates missed to give away their last eight chance.
Kane and Marcus Rashford also scored their kicks for England.
Team coach Gareth Southgate later, at the post-match conference, described the win as fantastic, saying it was also a deserved one.
“We deserved it. We showed incredible resilience to come back from a huge disappointment just before the final whistle, and we still maintained our calm,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that England will now meet Sweden in the quarter-finals at Samara on Saturday.