England defender John Stones - Reuters
Reuters

England defender John Stones says Colombia are “probably the dirtiest team” he has faced, following Tuesday’s last-16 win in Moscow.

Gareth Southgate’s side won on penalties to set up Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final meeting with Sweden.

The game was often reduced to farce with lengthy delays as players surrounded referee Mark Geiger to contest decisions.

“There could have been several red cards,” Stones, 24, said.

“They were probably the dirtiest team that I’ve ever come up against, in the respect of, when we won a penalty, surrounding the referee, even pushing the referee.

“There was the headbutt [on Jordan Henderson] that I’m sure you’ve all seen. They were scuffing the penalty spot while Harry Kane was waiting to take his penalty.

“There was also a lot of off the ball stuff that I’m sure you’ve not heard about – all the sort of things that you don’t really hear in a football match.”

Asked to expand on the other Colombian spoiling tactics, Stones said: “I’d rather not say, otherwise I reckon it could get me in a bit of trouble.

“You have seen the clips from the game and I’d not even seen the incident with Raheem Sterling and one of their staff.”

Stones was referring to a flashpoint at the end of the first half when Sterling was barged by one of Colombia’s coaches as he made his way off the pitch.

“I have never seen a game like that before and how they behaved,” Stones said.

“It was mainly off-the-ball stuff. Certain things happened and if the referee had seen the headbutt then it is a totally different game.

“It shows massive character to keep a cool head and not get sucked into their game.

“When you play against a team that want to fight, want to disturb your momentum, you can sometimes get dragged into it, and that’s what they want.

“We stuck to our plan and kept playing our way of football. That’s a great sign for a team to have – to have that sort of quality, to make sure we still have that tunnel vision of what we want to get out of the game and stick to our game plan.

“It was a difficult situation to be in, one that we have overcome and we can look back on and be very proud of.”

England goalkeeper Jack Butland has revealed the meticulous preparation behind their 4-3 shootout win – helped by Jordan Pickford’s superb save from Carlos Bacca – and how he feared Colombia keeper David Ospina might accidentally uncover their game plans.

Pickford’s tactics for penalties were written on a water bottle which he covered with a towel by the side of the goal.

Butland told BBC Sport: “The night before the game we all sat down as keepers and went over everything that could come up, going over penalties as far back as you like.

“As a team we are covering every box. Me, Popey (Nick Pope) and Jordan had individual bits of paper.

“We watched penalties and each came to our own conclusion, which all matched up. We knew what we were going to do so there was no grey area.

“In years gone by teams have done the old paper in the sock with people’s penalties on, and the bottle was just our way of preparing for each penalty taker.”

Butland revealed how England suddenly feared their carefully planned approach might literally end in Ospina’s hands.

“We covered our bottle with a towel,” said Butland. “We were worried as Ospina didn’t have a drink, so we were worried he was going to go for Jordan’s bottle.

“We were thinking ‘please, let’s not let him see the bottle’. Fortunately, we avoided that.”

England face Sweden on Saturday.

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