The Round of Sixteen
Round of Sixteen Day 4: Tuesday 3rd July
Match 1 – 16.00: Sweden v Switzerland
The round of sixteen had got off to a gripping start. The penultimate match for the round of sixteen was Sweden and Switzerland. It never sounded too exciting on paper. They appeared to be two teams that would play in a similar style and battle it out. It wasn’t far wrong. Sweden just about edged to victory in s very scrappy match that could have gone either way.
In the very first minute, Switzerland’s Shaqiri created a great chance with a strike from the outside area, which just went wide. This was swiftly followed by a threat from Sweden when Marcus Berg attempted a half volley that went off target.
The match went from one end to another – both sides attacking, but neither looking too threatening – with off target headers from Zuber and a bouncing strike from Marcus Berg. Just before the half time break, Switzerland looked as though it would break the deadlock, but Dzemaili blasted Zuber’s cross over the top. Sweden then got a very dangerous free kick about 30 yards out, but the effort deflected off the wall and past the far post. Sweden was awarded a corner, Steven but missed the best chance so far to score. Despite a last flurry of chances, the half-time score was still 0 – 0.
The beginning of the second half started slowly. However, Sweden made a breakthrough in the 66th minute when his scuffed strike hit Akanji and flew over Sommer’s head. Sweden was one up.
Clearly there was frustration in the Swiss camp as not long after Xhaka was booked for pulling back Viktor Claesson as Sweden went on the break. After a couple of subs, Switzerland once again looked threatening and fresh, but to no avail, as Sweden was clearly running down the time. However, the last of the action came as Sweden were awarded a penalty in injury time, which was overturned to a free kick just outside the box. The strike was saved and the final whistle blew; Sweden is heading to the semis.
Result: 1 – 0 to Sweden
Match 2 – 19.00: England v Colombia
Where to even begin? The three lions were finally in the knockout stages of a tournament and were ready to take it further; they wanted out of the round of sixteen and into the quarter finals. However, they had to get through the Colombians first, which was no easy ride. In one of the most nail biting games in English history, which ended in an historical win on penalties for our boys, we barely came out of the match with our hearts intact.
It would be very fair to say that throughout pretty much most of the match, the England team was outplaying the Colombians by a country mile. The lions roared around the pitch, with great opportunities, whilst the Colombians barely got into our half. There was not one point in the entire first half where we felt in danger of conceding. However, towards the end of the first half it started to turn a little nasty. Colombians started getting troublesome. When a free kick was awarded to England, just outside the box, Barrios head-butted Jordan Henderson. Controversially it was just a yellow card given – when it may well have been a red card and penalty. The hard feelings were made clear when one of the Colombian coaches barged into Sterling as he walked off the pitch at half time.
The score remained at 0 – 0 for the first half, but England was still in control. Colombia needed to calm down as the players were getting heated up – and cards would be shown.
The second half started off rather tamely and England weren’t as dominant as in the first half. However, when we were awarded a free kick near the box, the frustration of the Colombians was evident. With a corner kick awarded, Sanchez wrestled Kane to the ground (yes, again!) and the ref awarded a penalty to England. What happened next was a disgrace.
With many of the Colombian tam arguing with and distracting the ref, others were scuffing the penalty spot to hinder Kane; they also taunted him and tried to put him off. However, Kane rose above it all. Despite the tampering and taunts, Kane scored the penalty ad took England one goal up. But we all know it’s never straight forward for England.
This created much more urgency in Colombia’s play, and much more aggression. They were very lucky to still have eleven men on the pitch. England had even more great chances, but couldn’t keep the ball down and many simply flew over the crossbar. As the game reaches the 85th minute, Colombia throws everything forward. The 90 minute mark passes and there are 5 minutes of injury time to get through. In the 92nd minute Uribe makes a phenomenal shot at goal, but the magnificent Jordan Henderson gets his fingers to it and keeps it out. A corner to Colombia. As every England fan expected, from that last set piece in that last minute, a goal was born. In the death of the game Colombia pulled back to 1 – 1.
Extra time was literally painful to watch. Colombia looked to be the far more threatening side and England did all they could to keep the ball out of their own net. England looked defeated and it was purely defensive play as Colombia made all the moves. It was hard to know what to wish for… Colombia looked likeliest to score in extra time, but did we really want to go to penalties? The second half of extra time was a little better from us, with a few chances, but nothing too much. As the 30 mins ended it was penalties. Uh oh. Any England fan knows not to like penalties. I can barely watch…
Southgate claimed the team had worked on their penalty taking. It was time to put them to the test. Colombia stepped up and scored its first goal and then it was over to Harry to equalise, which he did no worries. It was 1 – 1. Cuadrado the drilled the ball into the top left corner that was impossible for Pickford to get to. However, Rashford stepped up calmly and answered it with his own brilliant penalty into the bottom left: 2 – 2. Muriel then sends Pickford the wrong way, taking them to 3. Jordan Henderson then takes his turn, he looked nervy and it showed. His shot, although decent, wasn’t powerful enough and the keeper guessed right – saving it. England was behind.
Then the tide turned. Up stepped Uribe, and he hit the crossbar – giving England a let off and all was equal again. Tripper then stepped up and smashed it into the top left – brilliant. It was 3 – 3. Bacca then hit a decent ball but Pickford gets that wonderful left hand of his to it and keeps it out – SAVED! The next penalty was vital. Get that and we were through. Up came Dier and took the spot. Smacking it into the bottom left, the keeper couldn’t get there in time. It went in! We had won a penalty shoot-out.
England is now through to the quarters, by the skin of their teeth and thanks to the fingertips of Pickford. Forget about Beckham’s right foot or left foot – it’s all about Pickford’s left hand. This historical penalty win is definitely on to add in England’s Greatest Moments. It is too early to start singing?… This his