July 04, 2018

Horse 2435 - 4th Of July And The Red Coats Win!

Colombia 1 - England 1 (aet)
Kane 56' (pen)
Mina 92'


This 4th of July, I am celebrating the victory of the red coats over an American army. Okay, so it's a different set of red coats and it's a South American army of eleven Colombians but nevertheless, a victory is still a victory; even if it is done in an ugly ugly fashion.

Colombia started this match with absolutely zero fear of England. As far as they were concerned, this would be a routine ninety minutes and thence a trip to the booking office for an appointment with Sweden in the next round. England on the other hand, were carrying a relatively fresher side, which also included the so far Golden Boot of the tournament.
Almost from the opening whistle, this match degenerated into a chaotic and undisciplined mess.

In the fourth minute, after a passage of pressure by England, Mira handballed outside the area and then decided that he wanted to have an argument with the referee. When Young stood up and delivered the free kick to an undefined location that wasn't remotely near the goal, it was already apparent as to what kind of match this would be.

At the quarter hour mark, Trippier crossed inwards to the head of Harry Kane who came perilously close to opening the scoring but somehow managed to put the ball over the bar from three yards away. Seven minutes later, Curduardo joined the party by unilaterally declaring that Colombia needed a space program and the first thing to be put into orbit would be an Adidas Telstar '18.
The match kind of cooled down a bit with neither side really establishing any kind of dominance and the only real highlight before the half was four minutes from the break when Kane was brought down outside the area and Trippier sent the free kick to nowhere in particular. Unable to break the deadlock, both sides must have gone into the dressing sheds at half time thinking that if they could only score once, that that might be enough.

Five minutes into the second half and Arias elbowed Kane in the head, and then protested long and loudly about the fact. This must have enraged Sanchez because two minutes later, he hugged Kane and threw him to the ground. He might have got away with it too, had it not for him being directly in front of the referee when it happened and then for four whole minutes, we kind of had a shouty conference between at least half of the Colombian side and the referee.
They needed have bothered as Kane converted the penalty into a goal by driving it straight down the middle and over the keeper.

From here, neither side looked threatening except for a scare when Kane and Tripper lost the ball deep into the corner of the Colombian end of the pitch and a clearance and then almost 90 yard run by Curduado was only foiled by his own virus immense ineptitude. Pickford made himself look big and that was enough to throw out Curduado's radar.
It probably should have ended 0-1 to England except that Columbia pressed late into the match and won a reprieve when a Falcao corner found Mina's head, who bent the ball in front of Pickford to equalise  in the 92nd minute.

An extra half hour is almost always a test of who can keep their nerve for the longest period of time and as cramp was beginning to set in, in players of both sides, if there was going to be any scoring, it was wilted out in the heat. Bacca missed in the 100th minute. Falcao missed at 103 minutes. Henderson made a run and dinked the ball left to Rose, whose 112th minute strike also missed.

This war of attrition would end after two hours in inglorious fashion and England won 4-3:

The only redeeming feature of this idiotic thing is that for the first time ever, England have won a penalty shootout in a major tournament. Ten kicks is hardly a way to resolve a football match but it does mean that the England manager Gareth Southgate, will get to forget his own penalty miss at Euro '96. It also means that he will continue to rack up late fees for the rental of his waistcoat because I'm sure that as the England manager and indeed every England fan, never really expects to go this far into any tournament.
England now stand just three tantalising matches away from adding a second star above the shield, and already it's appropriate to go into ridiculous overconfidence mode because you can't properly experience the inevitable disappointment of England being knocked out of a tournament without thinking that they are goodness and light incarnate, first. At the moment though, everything is working out better than expected.

I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry 'God for Harry Kane, England, and Saint George!'

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