After three haunting failures, England finally won a penalty shootout at the World Cup.
And it happened under a coach who for 22 years has taken the blame for a previous shootout loss at a major tournament.
England advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals by beating Colombia 4-3 in a shootout following a 1-1 draw Tuesday, sending Gareth Southgate running onto the field to celebrate the end of the national team’s years of misfortune.
“It will never be off my back, sadly. That’s something that will live with me forever,” Southgate said of his 1996 shootout failure. “But today is a special moment for this team. I hope it will give belief to generations of players that follow, because they can see what is possible in life.”
England will next play Sweden on Saturday in Samara. The 1966 champions have reached the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time since the David Beckham era, when a golden generation exited in the last eight in 2002 and 2006.
“We have to see what is possible and not be hindered by history or the expectations,” Southgate said. “I think these young players are showing that.”
Eric Dier scored the decisive kick after a scrappy game went through 30 minutes of extra time, denying Colombia a second consecutive trip to the quarterfinals.
“It was a nervous one,” Dier said. “I’ve never really been in a situation like that before.”
Harry Kane scored his tournament-leading sixth goal to give England the lead with a penalty kick in the 57th minute. Colombia scrambled for an equalizer and finally got it when Yerry Mina headed in a corner in the third minute of stoppage time.
“To get knocked down at the end like we did at the end, it’s difficult to come back from that,” Dier said. “But we were ready for that. We were calm. We stuck to our plan.”
England trailed 3-2 in the penalty shootout after Jordan Henderson’s shot was saved by David Ospina, but Mateus Uribe hit the bar and England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford then stopped Carlos Bacca’s kick.
“I did a whole bunch of research,” Pickford said. “Falcao is the only one who didn’t go his way. I don’t care if I’m not the biggest keeper in the world. I have the power and agility.”
Pickford succeeded where Peter Shilton, David Seaman and Paul Robinson failed as the 1990, 1998 and 2006 World Cups ended in shootout losses. On top of that, England was knocked out of the 1996 European Championship semifinals and the quarterfinals in 2004 and 2012 on penalties. The country’s only shootout success came earlier at Euro ’96.
Southgate’s penalty in the 1996 shootout at Wembley against Germany was stopped, a failure he has lived with for 22 years.
“Penalty shootouts are lot about mentality and obviously we know England in the past haven’t done great,” Kane said. “So, it’s nice to get that one off our back and we’ll have huge belief moving forward.”
There was edginess from the start, with Colombia forward Juan Cuadrado and England defender Harry Maguire involved in a spat before Radamel Falcao barged into Kieran Trippier, sparking the England defender to retaliate.
Colombia nearly lost Wilmar Barrios to a red card late in the first half. But after a video review, Barrios was given a yellow for knocking his head into the chest of Jordan Henderson.
England was awarded its penalty when Kane was knocked to the ground by Carlos Sanchez.
Of his six goals, three have come from the penalty spot. He also netted England’s first in the shootout.
Kane is the first England player to score in six straight games since Tommy Lawton in 1939.
“It’s a big night for England,” Kane said.
Colombia had 23 fouls and six yellow cards while England had 13 fouls and two yellows.
Still, Colombia coach Jose Pekerman wasn’t happy with the English approach.
“When there are so, so many fouls and interruptions, I think that’s not good,” Pekerman said. “We shouldn’t only look at Colombian players. People should also look at England’s players.”