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Match Number Nine — Tuesday 3rd July 2018

Stadion Spartak, Pokrovskoye-Streshnevo, Moskva

Referee: Mark Geiger (United States)

Assistants: Joe Fletcher (Canada) and Frank Anderson (United States)

It had been 22 years since England had won a penalty shootout, following six successive defeats and they had never won a World Cup shootout.

For Colombia, it was their first experience at a World Cup, but they had both won and lost shootouts in recent Copa Americas, losing 5-4 to Argentina following a goalless draw in the 2015 quarter-final in Viña del Mar, but then beating Peru, 4-2, at the same stage, following another goalless draw, a year later, in East Rutherford.


David Ospina (Arsenal and Colombia) aged 29.

Jordan Pickford (Everton and England) aged 24.

Ospina was making his ninetieth appearance for Colombia and was competing in his second World Cup finals. Argentina missed two penalties against him in 2015, but one was over the bar and the other was wide. He saved a Peruvian kick with his trailing right leg in 2016 and became the hero, with the last kick going over the bar. Ospina had saved one out of four penalties in the 2017-18 season for Arsenal, and had previously conceded one to Japan in the sixth minute of the opening game of the tournament when he was sent the wrong way by a disguised side-foot into the right side of the goal.

Pickford was making only his seventh England appearance, but he had taken part in a shootout in England's UEFA Under-21 semi-final against Germany in Tychy, the previous year, and produced a full-length diving save to prevent one kick, although England still lost. He had saved three out of eight penalties in the 2017-18 season for Everton and, like Ospina, had conceded one in the opening game, when Tunisia equalised with a right-foot shot into the bottom corner, though Pickford dived full length and got a hand to it.

Kickers (Colombia):

1)       Radamel Falcao (aged 32) - AS Monaco (France)

77th appearance, 30 goals (record goalscorer).

Scored 28 goals as captain for club and country, including 2 penalties, in the 2017-18 season.

Completed his second full game of the tournament, after being substituted in the last two group games, and scored his first World Cup goal against Poland.

Scored Colombia's second penalty of the 2015 shootout against Argentina, firing with his right foot into the top left corner, but he was not in the squad in 2016.

2)       Juan Cuadrado (aged 30) - Juventus (Italy)

74th appearance, 8 goals.

Scored 6 goals for club and country in the 2017-18 season as Juventus clinched their seventh successive Serie A title and fourth successive league and Coppa Italia double.

Completed the last three games after being substituted in the 31st minute of the opening game against Japan.

Opened the scoring with a penalty against Japan in the 2014 World Cup, when he fired low down the middle of the goal with his right foot. Scored Colombia's third penalty of the 2015 shootout against Argentina, firing with his right foot high into the left of the goal, and their second penalty of the 2016 shootout against Peru, side-footing with his right foot low into the right of the goal, as the goalkeeper dived the other way.

3)       Luis Muriel (aged 27) - Sevilla (Spain)

20th appearance, 2 goals.

Scored 10 goals for club and country in the 2017-18 season.

Came on as a substitute in the last two games of his first World Cup tournament.

Took Colombia's fourth penalty of the 2015 shootout against Argentina and shot right-footed over the bar, before looking accusingly back at the penalty spot. He was not in the 2016 squad.

4)       Mateus Uribe (aged 27) - América (Mexico)

11th appearance, no goals.

Scored 13 goals (including one penalty) for his club in all competitions in the 2017-18 season.

Came on as a substitute in the last three games of his first World Cup tournament.

5)       Carlos Bacca (aged 31) - Villarreal (Spain)

48th appearance, 14 goals.

Scored 18 goals on loan from Milan (Italy) in all competitions, including one penalty, in the 2017-18 season, plus one international goal.

Made his third substitute appearance of the tournament.

Missed the shootout in 2015 against Argentina because he was suspended after an earlier red card and did not take a kick against Peru in 2016.

Kickers (England):

1)       Harry Kane (aged 24) - Tottenham Hotspur

27th appearance, 19 goals.

Scored 52 goals for club and country in the 2017-18 season, 7 of them penalties.

Kane's first penalty against Panama was hammered into the top left corner, though it was hit with the side of his right foot, across his body. His second penalty was almost identical to the first, except that the goalkeeper this time dived the wrong way. Against Colombia, he side-footed his kick straight down the middle, with Ospina moving to the left.

England's captain had completed his second full game of his first World Cup tournament, after being substituted against Panama and then being rested for the final group game against Belgium.

The tournament's leading scorer, with six goals, three of them penalties, including the 57th-minute opening goal against Colombia.

2)       Marcus Rashford (aged 20) - Manchester United

22nd appearance, 3 goals.

Scored 15 goals for club and country in the 2017-18 season as United finished as runners-up in both the Premier League and the FA Cup.

Came on as a substitute with only seven minutes remaining, after an earlier substitute appearance in the opening game, against Tunisia, his first World Cup finals appearance, and a full game against Belgium.

3)       Jordan Henderson (aged 28) - Liverpool

42nd appearance, no goals.

Scored 1 goal for Liverpool in the 2017-18 season, but captained the team to the UEFA Champions League Final.

Substituted before Liverpool's 2012 Carling Cup Final shootout and did not take a kick in the 2016 Capital One Cup Final shootout, but he had beaten Ospina with a penalty for Liverpool in 2015.

Completed his third full game of the tournament, having been rested against Belgium.

4)       Kieran Trippier (aged 27) - Tottenham Hotspur

10th appearance, no goals.

Had not scored for Tottenham for over two years.

Completed his second full game of his first World Cup tournament, after being substituted against Panama and then being rested for the final group game against Belgium.

5)       Eric Dier (aged 24) - Tottenham Hotspur

29th appearance, 3 goals.

Scored one goal for England in the 2017-18 season, but none for his club.

Came on as a substitute in the 81st minute, after an earlier substitute appearance for the last two minutes in the opening game, against Tunisia, his first World Cup finals appearance, and a full game against Belgium.

Kane had taken six penalties for England, but missed the first, against Turkey in 2016 at the Etihad, when he shot right-footed across his body, but it went wide, just glancing off the outside of the left-hand post. Twelve months later, he equalised against France in Paris, when his first successful spot-kick for England and his second goal of the game, was hit straight down the middle with a right side-foot as his Tottenham team mate, Lloris, dived to the left. He then scored the only goal of England's last World Cup qualifying match against Lithuania in Vilnius, when he again side-footed his kick, low onto the left-hand post and in. The 'keeper dived the right way, but could not reach it.

Extra Time

England had held a deserved lead until the third minute of added time and Colombia's equaliser had knocked the stuffing out of them. The South Americans began the extra period on the attack and England were on the back foot for the first time in the game. Then, slowly, but surely, they regained the initiative and they could have won the game before the end, finishing as much the stronger side.

The Shootout (Colombia first) - all kicks were taken with the right foot

1-0 Falcao fired straight down the middle as Pickford dived to the left.

1-1 Kane fired into the bottom left corner, beyond Ospina's reach.

2-1 Cuadrado side-footed into the top left corner, with Pickford diving low to the left.

2-2 Rashford side-footed, hard and low into the bottom left corner, beyond Ospina's reach.

3-2 Muriel side-footed, low to the right of centre, as Pickford dived to the left.

Henderson side-footed low towards the right-hand corner, but Ospina made a brilliant diving save.

Uribe fired against the bar to the right, where it bounced down and out, with Pickford having also dived to the right.

3-3 Trippier fired with a side-foot that flew into the top left corner, as Ospina dived to the left, but low.

Bacca side-footed, at medium height, slightly to the left of centre and Pickford dived low, but blocked it with his up-stretched left hand.

3-4 Dier side-footed into the bottom left, where Ospina got his right hand to it, but could not stop it powering into the corner.

If Dier had missed, who would have taken England's sixth penalty?

According to his brother, Jesse Lingard (25 years old, with 15 caps and two goals) would have taken England's sixth penalty, if needed. He had scored 15 goals for club and country in the 2017-18 season and had just completed his first World Cup match, after being substituted in the first two games (following a goal against Panama) and rested against Belgium. Of the four remaining outfield players, Jamie Vardy was a proven goalscorer and had scored six out of seven penalties for his club during the season (also missing in a Carabao Cup quarter-final shootout against Manchester City), but he had picked up a groin injury since coming on as a substitute and was to miss England's quarter-final as a result. The three other players (Maguire, Rose and Stones) were more defensive. Stones had scored his first two international goals against Panama, but they were both headers.

Why did England win?

This was the end of an epic journey that began on 26th June, 1996 at Wembley Stadium, when Gareth Southgate's weak penalty kick gave Germany the opportunity to dispatch England from their own European Championship in the semi-final. It was like a dagger through the heart of an England that believed that football really was 'coming home'.

Five more shootouts were lost and a number of other England players suffered similar fates to Southgate, but the former Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough captain probably suffered more than most, unfairly, as the unfortunate villain of a shattered dream.

A succession of coaches and managers had also failed to get to grips with the growing fear that England were doomed to lose every shootout. Various tactics were tried out, but none had the desired effect.

Gareth Southgate found himself in a unique position, beginning with his appointment as England's Under-21 manager in 2013. Having given almost half of England's 2018 World Cup squad experience in the Under-21 team he was already building trust in the eyes of the next generation.

When he was unexpectedly, and reluctantly, elevated to national team manager following Sam Allardyce's ill-judged comments to a reporter, the team had slumped to a new low. Very little was expected of Southgate, given his lack of major success at club level, so the time was right for a few new ideas.

Gradually, over a two-year period, the older players were eased out and England went to Russia with their youngest World Cup squad for 56 years. So, this was like wiping the slate clean when it came to penalty shootout baggage. Southgate stressed to his team how important it was to 'own the moment' when it came to the pressure of penalty kicks and it was obvious that each player had taken the advice on board.

Although the whole country must have groaned when Colombia equalised and we began to envisage yet another disaster with an all-too-familiar sickening sense of dread, there was no such feeling in the England camp. Jordan Pickford was secretly armed with all of the Colombian kickers' favourite penalty styles and the Welsh goalkeeping coach, Martyn Margetson had listed, on Pickford's water bottle, in which direction the goalkeeper should dive for each penalty. The anxiety of having to make those split-second decisions that had the potential to haunt him for the rest of his life, had thus been taken away from him. Pickford only saved one of the kicks, but it was enough to swing the game England's way. The instruction on the bottle had been to wait until the last moment to react to Bacca's kick and it worked perfectly.

Of course, England's kickers also played a crucial part. The kicks were all struck well, with confidence, and all found the corner of the net, with the exception of Henderson's which was hit cleanly and it was close to the right-hand post, but it was a good height for Ospina, once he'd correctly guessed which side it was going.

Even though England were the first to miss, they were not the first to crack. There were no tears or shocked faces. In fact, it was Uribe who, in trying to blast Colombia in front, sacrificed accuracy and struck the bar. England were back in it and, this time, they would not weaken.

So, it was, that at approximately 9:54pm on Tuesday, 3rd July, 2018 BST that fans up and down the land were united in a tremendous outpouring of joy, emotion and relief as England, finally, won a shootout again. The trauma that had been unwittingly instigated by Gareth Southgate all those years ago, was ended under the astute guidance of Southgate, himself, in a marvellously appropriate heart-warming end to the story. The clenched fists and roar that came from him as he stood before England's fans in celebration was reminiscent of Stuart Pearce's emotional outburst when he exorcised his own penalty shootout demons, just four days before Southgate's miss and, once again, the country could embrace a special bond with its latest heroes.

England might not win every future penalty shootout, but there will never again be a fear of defeat.