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
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.
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.
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.
Rashford side-footed, hard and low into the bottom left corner, beyond
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
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.
Dier side-footed into the bottom left, where
Ospina got his right hand to it, but could not stop it powering into the
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
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
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
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.