By Yan Lei MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) --
England reached the World Cup quarterfinals in a
rather dramatic fashion on Tuesday, with the Three Lions drawing
with Colombia 1-1 through 120 minutes and sealing the historic
penalty shootout victory.
“It’s a big night
for England,” said England captain Harry Kane after the match.
“It’s a young team
but we’ve grown up a lot on that pitch. We know obviously in the
past England haven’t done great and it was great to get that one
off our back,” said the 24-year-old.
England had a rather dreadful record for shootouts, having been
involved in three ones in the World Cup history and lost all
three of them. They have also lost three of the four shootouts
at the European Championships.
England coach Gareth
Southgate, who played the 1998 World Cup for England, has been
burdened by his own miss at a decisive penalty shootout against
Germany in the 1996 European Championships.
“It will never be
off my back, sadly. That’s something that will live with me
forever,” Southgate said.
But the 47-year-old
is now able to pin hopes on a new generation of England, who
have been able to “not be hindered by history or expectations”
and are “rewriting their own history,” in Southgate’s words.
“It is a special
moment for this team. It’ll hopefully give belief to the
generations of players that will follow...We’re looking forward
now to the quarterfinals,” Southgate said.
For England, the
route to the final seems clear now. The Three Lions will face
Sweden in the quarterfinals on July 7 in Samara, and winners of
that match are going to play either Russia or Croatia on July 11
in the semifinals.
Southgate said that
they will not underestimate Sweden this time. “They are another
team we have a poor record against. We have underestimated them
for years,” said the coach.
England and Sweden
have two previous World Cup encounters, in 2002 and 2006,
respectively, both ending in draws. “We know exactly how they
play and it’s going to be a real tough test,” said Southgate.
difficulties are in mind, hopes are now high.
England are the only
team that have won a World Cup in their side of the draw until
the final. With Spain eliminated, Russia and Croatia must seem
less intimidating. Southgate’s decision to let Belgium win that
last group match seems to be leading the Three Lions to an
easier path to reach the World Cup final for the first time
Moreover, the ending
of the shootout jinx is also giving the young lions confidence
more than ever. As some have commented, if England can win a
penalty shootout, surely anything is now possible.
“This will give us
more belief than ever, and the fans more belief than ever back
home,” said Kane, who is now top scorer of the tournament with
continues. I’m extremely proud of these achievements, but I want
to do better and do more,” he said.