England won a World Cup penalty shootout for the first time on a night of high drama in Moscow, overcoming Colombia to secure a quarter-final meeting with Sweden.
Amid a fevered atmosphere inside Spartak Stadium, Eric Dier scored the winning kick after Jordan Pickford’s brilliant save from Carlos Bacca.
Southgate’s side looked to have emerged unscathed from an ill-disciplined match courtesy of Harry Kane’s penalty, only for Colombia’s Yerry Mina to equalise in the closing seconds of stoppage time to send the massed ranks of Colombia fans wild.
The extra 30 minutes could not separate the sides and led to a nerve-shredding finale that has so often been England’s undoing, with a dismal record of just one win in seven shootouts at major tournaments before this.
England looked to be set for more agony when Jordan Henderson’s penalty was saved by David Ospina but Mateus Uribe smashed the following kick on to the crossbar to pave the way for Pickford and Dier to be England’s saviours.
No previous world champions stand between England and the final. The winners of their quarter-final will face either Croatia or hosts Russia for a place in the Moscow showpiece on 15 July.
England edge towards glory
Southgate’s one-match-at-time mantra has been designed to keep expectations in check as his side have been presented with their best opportunity at a World Cup since they reached the semi-finals of Italia 90.
If he was listening to the England fans who gathered and sang non-stop late into the Moscow night behind the goal in the Spartak Stadium, it may have dawned on him that keeping a lid on expectations is likely to be a losing battle.
England will have taken a lot out of themselves in this physically gruelling and mentally taxing last-16 game and they now face the well-organised and resilient Swedes.
Referee Geiger lost the plot
American referee Mike Geiger’s failure to clamp down on early misdemeanours led to him losing control of a game that Colombia seemed determined to turn into a battle.
Instead of imposing his authority on proceedings with firm decision-making, he instead indulged in lengthy discussion with players from both sides on numerous occasions.