Pickford England’s hero in World Cup penalty drama against Colombia

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England exorcised the ghosts of Italia 90, France 98, and Germany 06 as Jordan Pickford’s penalty shootout heroics sent his team into the World Cup quarter-finals.

Harry Kane’s 58th minute penalty looked like it had sealed a tight triumph for Gareth Southgate’s men. But Yerry Mina’s stoppage-time equaliser sent the last-16 clash into extra-time.

Carlos Sanchez’s manhandling of Kane in the Colombia box directly in front of the referee left the man with the whistle no option but to award the spot-kick.

The England captain duly obliged, sending David Ospina the wrong way to make it 1-0 England. It looked like a goal was never going to come. The first half was dominated by the Three Lions, without anything of note to show for it.

The first major flashpoint arrived courtesy of a VAR red card appeal. Wilmar Barrios seemed to headbutt Jordan Henderson. The referee consulted the assistants in the VAR room but only a yellow was deemed necessary.

The second half started as the first finished. Much ado about nothing but bad-tempered antics. That was until the Sanchez’s moment of madness and Kane coolly dispatched.

However, with about 10 minutes to go, Colombia realised they were actually quite a decent football team and started to throw numbers forward.

In stoppage time, Pickford made a stunning save. But from the resulting corner, Mina leapt above the England defence to nod down and into the England net to send the Colombia fans wild.

We were sent to extra-time as nerves became fraught. It was end-to-end for 30 minutes. But the best chance fell to Danny Rose in the 23rd minute as the left back swept the ball agonisingly wide of Ospina’s post.

It ended level and England’s arch nemesis – penalty shootouts – made their reappearance. But Southgate’s charges held their nerve supremely well. Only Jordan Henderson missed from the spot.

But it was Pickford – the Everton stopper – who made an incredible save to give match-point to England. Up stepped Eric Dier to send the ball flying into the net and a nation wild.

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Cian Carroll

Starting life as a football columnist for his local paper in Dundalk, Cian has written for a number of media outlets with pieces published in The Birmingham Mail and Spain’s El Mundo Deportivo. A lover of football, GAA, boxing, rugby and MMA, he’s a big Aston Villa and Dundalk fan. He can be regularly spotted on various mountain tops.