England advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals on penalties after a 1-1 draw with Colombia on a dramatic evening in Moscow on Tuesday.
Harry Kane scored just after the break to hand the Three Lions a deserved lead but Yerry Mina’s stoppage-time header sent the game to extra-time and, eventually, penalties after neither team could find a winner in open play.
And it was there that England overcame a miserable history with spot-kicks to book their first trip to the last eight since the 2006 tournament in Germany.
Star playmaker James Rodriguez was left out of the squad entirely after suffering a calf injury in Colombia’s final group-stage match against Senegal last week.
The 26-year-old Bayern Munich man was marked as “absent” in the official team list, meaning he was not fit enough to even appear as a substitute.
England boss Gareth Southgate, meanwhile, counted on the same XI that saw the Three Lions narrowly beat Tunisia in their opening match, with Raheem Sterling partnering Harry Kane up front.
England won a number of corner kicks early in the first half but failed to find the same joy they experienced against the Tunisians as Colombia defended resolutely to deny the taller Three Lions.
Controversy struck in the 38th minute when, while jockeying for position for a free kick near the Colombia box, Wilmar Barrios appeared to throw his head into England midfielder Jordan Henderson’s chest, with the Liverpool man throwing himself to the ground and staying down for a number of minutes after the contact.
England defender Harry Maguire called on the match referee to investigate the incident further using VAR. However, Barrios was shown a yellow without any clear indication of the technology being used.
Southgate’s men were rewarded for their persistence minutes after the break when, from a corner, Carlos Sanchez was adjudged to have brought down Harry Kane in the box.
The South Americans vehemently protested the decision, but the penalty stood and the Tottenham man sent goalkeeper David Ospina the wrong way to hand England the lead.
Dele Alli headed wide from a narrow angle on 63 minutes after a fine cross from the right side.
Colombia worked their best chance in the 82nd minute. A turnover in midfield started a promising three-on-two counter-attack but Juan Cuadrado blasted his shot hide and wide from an angle.
With England content to soak up pressure, the South Americans pushed forward in search of the tying goal.
A Mateus Uribe effort out of nothing in second-half stoppage forced Jordan Pickford into a desperate diving save — the England keeper pushing around his post to deny the snapshot from distance.
And Colombia dramatically equalised from the resulting corner kick — towering defender Yerry Mina rising high and slamming his downward header past Pickford and off the head of Kieran Trippier to send the match to extra-time.
The goal marked the Barcelona man’s third consecutive game with a goal. And he became the fifth defender to score three or more goals in a World Cup since Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer scored four in the 1966 edition.
Second-half substitute Carlos Bacca nearly got on the end of a Johan Mojica cross at the near post six minutes into extra-time but Pickford arrived first.
Radamel Falcao headed wide of Pickford’s post in the 104th minute — the Monaco striker under heavy pressure from Maguire who did well to throw him off.
Danny Rose fired across the face of goal on 112 minutes but a stranded Ospina watched the ball roll wide of the post and out of play.
Moments later, Jesse Lingard saw a near-post run blocked on the doorstep and second-half substitute Eric Dier missed the target with his wide-open header from the ensuing corner kick.
That would prove the last qualifty chance before the game went to penalties, where England have struggled historically.
But after Uribe hit the bar and Pickford saved Carlos Bacca’s effort, Dier converted to dramatically set-up a last-eight clash with Sweden in Samara on Saturday.