FIFA World Cup 2018: A new England rises
England beat Colombia on penalties in a historic World Cup match for Gareth Southgate and his men. Fans celebrated as they witnessed a new England team emerge from the shadows of past demons
Conceding in stoppage time with victory so close but not quite in their hands was perhaps typical for an England team at a major tournament. But what followed showed there is very little about this England team that reminds of previous English sides. This team is different.
This is a team with confidence, courage and the ability to execute a matchplan. It has individual quality, a star striker, and an excellent goalkeeper. This is a team led by an impressive head coach, who had England so prepared for the dreaded penalty shoot-out that past demons were swiftly laid to rest. This team is not afraid.
And this team has a brilliant captain. Harry Kane put in the kind of performance to inspire a generation. He was tireless, running deep to win back the ball, staying focused when tempers flared, and remaining composed when England needed him most.When referee Mark Geiger lost control of the game and yellow cards were being flashed around, Kane stayed calm.
A different England
Perhaps England's greatest achievement was their composure. With Colombia often baiting England into an emotional battle, Gareth Southgate's men largely resisted. Previous England teams might have succumbed to a red mist. But not this one.
This young side is still learning, as the first half of extra time showed. Suddenly, England's passing was loose, their control slipped and tiredness began to show. Colombia were given a chance.
But in the second half, this new England returned. Southgate's England returned. Danny Rose flashed wide, Eric Dier headed over. England wanted to win it now, not wait for penalties. They needn't have worried.
In short, this is a different England. This is not the team that once relied on determination, individual brilliance or the hope they could pull it together at some point. This team truly is a team, and the historic and dramatic win against Colombia will have drawn this group even closer together.
Whether England wins the tournament or not, the victory against Colombia has made one thing clear: a new England has emerged and they have come to play.