England’s first-ever penalty shootout victory in a World Cup has got the nation dreaming of ending 52 years of hurt.
“It’s coming home” – the first line of Baddiel, Skinner & The Lightning Seeds’ 1996 Three Lions anthem – has been the growing narrative since the 6-1 defeat of Panama in their second group encounter confirmed a last 16 spot.
And after a dramatic 4-3 shootout victory over Colombia, which secured a first quarter-final since 2006 World Cup, against Sweden, momentum continues to build throughout a nation currently basking in a rare heatwave.
It was only their second triumph via this method in eight tournaments, the only other occasion being at Euro ’96 against Spain in the last eight – which was followed up by defeat to Germany via the same method with Gareth Southgate missing the vital spot-kick.
Now the current England boss, many feel his planning and preparation have been key in preparing his players for a possible shootout – and his insistence that they are not simply a lottery has been duly rewarded, with Eric Dier scoring the crucial kick after goalkeeper Jordan Pickford had saved from Carlos Bacca.
“Shootouts are tough”, Southgate told BBC Sport post-match. “We had talked long and hard about owning the process of a shootout. They kept calm. The players have taken it all on board. It’s a special moment for us. We looked at technique, how we needed to be as a team, the goalkeeper’s role.”
England recovered from the shock of conceding in injury-time through Yerry Mina’s header, having led through a second-half Harry Kane penalty, his sixth of the tournament.
“Today was a special night for every Englishman,”. “The fans that were here were outnumbered but I’m delighted for them and everyone at home.
“We’re trying to write our own history, and I’ve talked to the players about that. They write their own stories. We don’t have to be bowed by the pressure of the past. This was special but I want us to go on. I don’t want to go home yet.”