Shootout salvation at last for Kane-inspired England
Jul 08 2018
Once it all calmed down, the players went to meet the fans.
Peter Shilton, England's goalkeeper the last time they made the last four, at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, was among those impressed at not just Pickford's shot stopping, but his character in bellowing instructions to his defence at every opportunity. Whilst at the same time it would be odd for Gareth Southgate to make such a drastic change to his back line considering their success so far in this tournament.
Neither side broke the deadlock in extra-time, and so England were faced with two options: finally break their penalty hoodoo or face an early flight home from Russian Federation.
Pickford was named the man of the match in Saturday's World Cup quarter-final as his side defeated Sweden 2-0 to reach the semi-finals, with Pickford keeping a clean sheet.
Praised as a "hero" and with many suggesting he should be knighted, goalkeeper Pickford made several world-class saves.
Captain Radamel Falcao and coach Jose Pekerman led the team's response as they clapped and waved to the fans gathered in their wake.
"We knew we had this game, even if it had to go to penalties, we knew we were capable of winning".
After the match, Courtois was quoted as commenting on Pickford's height as the reason why he only managed to get a hand on Januzaj's match victor, which the Everton goalkeeper later replied to following England's win over Colombia in which he saved a penalty in the shootout.
Besides being some of the best penalty-takers the country has seen since England lifted the trophy, these group of players displayed maturity and mental strength. "We are playing some young players who are barely established at their clubs, never mind in their global careers, but we feel that they are able to play the way we want to play - playing with huge pride, playing with no little quality, showing the sort of mentality to work for the group".
England now take on the victor of Russian Federation vs Croatia for a place in the final.