As we have seen in the knockout phase already, rank and group stage form counts for very little here in Russia – Argentina OUT, Portugal OUT, Spain OUT, Denmark OUT, Switzerland OUT, so 5 out of the 7 expected to progress so far are going home instead, eh?
There was much speculation and banter abound over the past five days about the outcome of tonight’s crunch match, although losing had a bigger significance to England than Columbia, because of history our team could dream of only glory ahead, while their opponents had more limited ambitions, perhaps?
England had pulled a fast one (though not technically ‘cheating’) by giving their first team a rest in their last Group game, and that gave them a bit of a (unfair?) advantage tonight, didn’t it?
Twenty years ago England beat Columbia at France World Cup group stage and indeed Columbia hadn’t beaten England in any of our previous five encounters though they drew twice – however, there wasn’t going to be a draw tonight though, was there?
Before the game it was feared by Colombia that through injury, they might be without star man James Rodriguez for this knockout tie (indeed that was the case), while England had to hope that reverting to their ‘first XI’ would restore much needed fire power and performance stability, eh? DIDN’T HAPPEN THOUGH.
As it turned out, a bad game to play in, a bad game to watch, eh?
Oh yes, England were the best team throughout, and Columbia the biggest cheats throughout (though England also had their moments) . England never looked like scoring, and Columbia never looked like NOT scoring. England got a well deserved penalty for Kane to put England in front, but Columbia never gave up and got their deserved equaliser with a few minutes to go in injury time, to force the game into extra time.
Both teams had chances to win it in the extra half hour, but nevertheless they seemed set mentally on leaving it to a penalty shoot out lottery? It was said that Southgate had used the advice of a psychiatrist to determine who should take his penalties – well one was missed but Columbia missed two so nevertheless ENGLAND won (4-3), to go through to the fourth Quarter final against Sweden next Saturday.
[England may have reach the Quarters at long last, but not richly deserved perhaps? Nevertheless, the path to the Final is now certainly ‘achievable’ if not all that ‘certain’, eh?]
(Rankings pre June at time of squad selections)
THE GOLDEN BOOT 20118
Rank Player Goals
1 Harry Kane 6
2 Cristiano Ronaldo 4
3 Romelu Lukaku 4
4 Denis Cheryshev
4 Artem Dzyuba
4 Edinson Cavani 3
4 Kylian Mbappe 3
World Cup Finals’ progression
Quarter Finals France v. Uruguay = A
Russia v. Croatia = B
Brazil v. Belgium = C
Sweden v. England = D
Semi Finals Winner A v. Winner C
Winner B v. Winner D
The winning 2 teams to progress
Final 15th July