Penalties. Again. This time England held their nerve and scraped through to the quarter-finals of the World Cup and a clash with Sweden after a dramatic shoot-out against Colombia.
The ultimate victory was no more than they deserved, but this time it was Jordan Pickford who was the hero, saving Carlos Bacca’s fifth spot-kick to give England a 4-3 decision on penalties after a 1-1 draw in 90 minutes.
Eric Dier’s final kick put them through, despite Jordan Henderson having one saved by David Ospina.
And nerve was exactly what they needed against the physical and intimidating South Americans, who used every trick in the book to bully Gareth Southgate’s young lions.
AS IT HAPPENED: Colombia v England, last 16
They never make it easy. Would England want it any other way? Do they know any other way?
For 92 minutes they had their World Cup Round of 16 clash with Colombia won. Harry Kane’s 57th-minute penalty looked to have proved decisive.
But then heartbreak. The ultimate sucker-punch. Colombia had created precious little to that point.
Pickford barely had a save to make but when he needed to, he produced a magnificent save to turn around a rasping drive from Mateus Uribe. They had their warning. Still, all that remained was a corner to be defended.
READ MORE: England v Colombia player ratings
Yet if there is a frailty with this England side, it is with their inexperienced defence. And they failed to clear their lines.
Jordan Henderson allowed Yerry Mina to rise highest from the resulting corner. He nodded down powerfully and the ball bounced off the turf and over Kieran Trippier manning the far post. Despite getting his head to the ball, it nestled into the roof of the net. It was barely their only attempt on target throughout normal time.
It was rough justice for England, who had complete control of the game, albeit having just one goal to show for their efforts.
To their credit, they picked themselves up, dusted themselves off and started all over again, and almost won it in extra-time.
After the shock of conceding so late, England pressed. Dier had a free run from six yards, but thumped his header over from a corner with five minutes remaining. Vardy wasted a good chance and Rose blazed a shot agonisingly wide of the post.
But they could not find a way past a resolute Colombia rear-guard.
To their credit, Southgate’s young side kept their composure under the most hostile of environments at the Otktytiye Arena as Colombia, knowing their obvious limitations, tried everything to rattle them.
Colombia, who reached the quarter-finals in 2014, had never beaten England in five previous attempts and despite their dubious mental tactics, they deservedly fell again.
It was a tense and tetchy affair, with Colombia continually haranguing American referee Mark Gieger, who, to his immense credit, remained strong throughout.
England were dominant and deservedly got the decisive breakthrough after 57 minutes.
Davinson Sanchez, the pick of the Colombians, had marshalled his defence well but after he headed behind from a free-kick with Harry Maguire looming, he turned hero to villain in an instant, wrestling Kane to the ground from Kieran Trippier’s resulting corner and Geiger had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
The spot-kick took over three minutes to be taken as Colombia did their utmost to delay proceedings and Jordan Henderson found himself in the book, somewhat unfairly, for showing aggression and frustration in equal measure.
It did not affect Kane, though. The World Cup’s top scorer despatched the ball down the middle as David Ospina gambled and dived to his right.
England could have increased the advantage when Dele Alli broke clear only for Sanchez to block his cross directed towards an unmarked Kane. Maguire’s looping header from the resulting corner was just too high.
Minutes later, Sterling broke clear on the break and put through Lingard, but Sanchez got the benefit of the doubt as the Manchester United midfielder took a tumble.
Maguire headed a half-chance over with 12 minutes remaining, but as always with England, it wasn’t without one or two nervous moments. Kyle Walker gave Colombia their best chance, giving the ball away with 10 minutes remaining, only for Juan Cuadrado to blaze high and wide.
However, Pickford barely had a save to make, especially in the first half when England played well but had little to show for it.
They had the first real chance after five minutes. Maguire passed calmly out of defence, Alli released Sterling down the left and as he attempted to cut back from the byline, Mina slid in and handled. Ashley Young curled in a vicious free kick, punched away by Ospina, and Trippier’s follow-up cross was dangerous enough, but flicked away for a corner, which again the Colombian keeper dealt with.
Seven minutes later, Sterling had a sight at goal, but his snap-shot hit Davinson Sanchez’s heel and the danger was cleared.
After 15 minutes, Tripper and Lingard combined well down the right and Tripper’s deep cross was just too high for Kane, who did well to get to it, but his header looped onto the top of the net.
England were very much on top in the first 20 minutes, dominating possession, with Colombia offering precious little attacking intent.
Young’s driven free-kick, following a foul on Dele Alli, almost found the head of Maguire, but Sanchez just did enough to head behind for a corner.
Raheem Sterling turned and ran at the Colombia defence after 29 minutes, and while he had options, having created something out of nothing, he was crowded out when he went to shoot on his weaker left foot.
Colombia’s best chance came after 32 minutes when England lost possession from a throw and Falcao squared to Jose Fernando Cuadrado, but his left-foot shot went woefully wide.
England had good possession, yet the final, searching pass could not be found and that was summed up in the 36th minute when Kane made a good run behind the Colombia defence, but Henderson, who had a quiet first-half, was off target with a chipped pass that rolled harmlessly wide.
Five minutes before half-time, Kane won a free-kick 25 yards out, just left of centre.
What happened as the defensive wall lined up provided the main talking point in a half of few chances. Wilmar Barrios was very lucky to stay on the pitch after he put his head into Henderson’s chest and then followed through with his head on the Liverpool man’s chin. VAR was called for, but American referee Mark Geiger awarded a yellow card, rather than a red for what could easily have been deemed violent conduct.
Finally, Trippier got the free-kick up and over the wall with good pace, but his right-footed curler it was well wide of Ospina’s right-hand post.
Colombia appeared a little suspect when England attacked down their right and Tripper’s cross in added time at the end of the first-half almost fell to Sterling, but was nodded clear. While Lingard followed up, he failed to keep the bouncing ball down and volleyed high over the bar.
Try as they might, they could not find another way through after Kane’s opener and then came the drama of the spot-kicks.
And, finally, the joy of winning one. Or was it relief?
Key Opta Stats:
England have won a penalty shootout at a major tournament for only the second time, also beating Spain in Euro 96.
England have qualified for the quarter-final of a World Cup for the first time since 2006.
Colombia have lost three of their four knockout matches at the World Cup (also the last 16 in 1990 and the quarter-final in 2014).
The team going first in a penalty shootout have now lost all three penalty shootouts at the 2018 World Cup.
Harry Kane became the first player to score in six consecutive England appearances since Tommy Lawton did so in 1939.
Harry Kane has scored six goals in his first three World Cup appearances for England – only three players have scored more in their first three matches; Hungary’s Sandor Kocsis (9), Germany’s Gerd Muller (7) and Argentina’s Guillermo Stabile (7).
The last England player to be fouled more often in a World Cup match than Harry Kane in this match (9) was Alan Shearer in 1998 against Tunisia (11).
Harry Kane has scored 14 goals in 10 England appearances under Gareth Southgate, scoring in all eight matches he has played as captain (12 goals).
Yerry Mina has scored in all three of his appearances at the World Cup, with all three of his goals for Colombia coming via headers.
Harry Kane has scored six goals from six shots on target at the 2018 World Cup.
England conceded in injury time at the end of the second half for the first time in World Cup history, with Yerry Mina’s goal coming after 92 minutes and 33 seconds.
Eight of England’s last 15 World Cup knockout matches have gone to extra-time, with the first match in this run the 1966 World Cup final.
England had 15 shots on target in their first two World Cup matches against Tunisia and Panama, but managed just four in their last two against Belgium and Colombia.