Sports

World Cup big guns primed for last-eight battles

  Moscow, Wednesday

England became the last team to qualify for the World Cup quarter-finals after a dramatic penalty shootout as favourites Brazil and fancied France trained their sights on their last-eight opponents.

England’s victory against Colombia takes Gareth Southgate’s team into what looks like a winnable match against Sweden, who edged out Switzerland 1-0 earlier on Tuesday.

Both teams are in the bottom half of the draw in Russia, along with the host nation and Croatia, with England the only former winners of the four teams.

The top half contains more heavyweights, with 1998 champions France taking on two-time winners Uruguay and Brazil set to face Belgium.

On a dramatic night in Moscow’s Spartak Stadium, England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford made a key save from Carlos Bacca before Eric Dier’s spot-kick gave England their first-ever win on penalties at a World Cup at the fourth attempt, ending the jinx that has dogged them for so long.

The Sun tabloid coined his save the “Hand of Jord”, harking back to Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” incident in 1986, when the Argentine used his hand to put the ball into the net against England.

“It’s the headline we have waited a lifetime to write… England win on penalties (Yes really!),” the paper said.

Southgate said he was already looking forward to Saturday’s quarter-final against Sweden in Samara, with a last-four clash against either Croatia or Russia up for grabs.

“This was special but I want us to go on,” said Southgate, whose own penalty miss saw England lose to Germany in the semi-finals of Euro 96 at Wembley.

He added: “Sweden is another team we have a poor record against. We have underestimated them for years. They have created their own story and made history. I don’t want to go home yet.”

Janne Andersson’s Sweden have recovered well from a heartbreaking group-stage defeat by Germany, seeing off Mexico before edging out Switzerland 1-0 in the last 16.-AFP

RB Leipzig midfielder Emil Forsberg grabbed the only goal of a tight encounter midway through the second half to send his country into the quarters for the first time since the 1994 side who finished third in the United States. -AFP

Show More

Related Articles