England qualified for the quarter-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Tuesday with a win over Colombia, needing penalties to advance. Harry Kane and Yerry Mina scored in regulation, leading to a 1-1 final score, and England won 4-3 in the shootout.
The result means the Three Lions will face Sweden on Saturday, as they continue their quest for a first title since 1966.
Here are the key takeaways from the final match of the round of 16.
New-Look England Show It's a New Era by Overcoming Penalty Trauma
England's young squad showed its inexperience by folding like a deck chair in the final minutes of regulation against Colombia and were completely overrun in the first period of extra time. They also showed a different side to this new squad, however—the mental fortitude to win a penalty shootout.
Before Tuesday, the Three Lions had the worst record in shootouts in World Cup history. In three attempts, the team had never advanced.
It's no wonder people were ecstatic after the win:
It's too early to suggest this historical event will lead to World Cup success, as the team showed many serious issues we'll get to in a bit. But there's reason for optimism as well, as this bunch of talented players has already impressed in Russia. Even if this isn't the year—and it still might be—the future is very bright for England.
Kane's Goal Saves England from Succumbing to Chaos
Tuesday's match wasn't a showcase of technical ability, but it brought plenty of excitement for other reasons. Both teams started to lose their composure late in the first half, and Colombia, in particular, continued after the break, with a ton of dirty fouls and bookings to follow.
England's penalty was a logical consequence, but there was far more drama. Diving, continuous talking to the official and flying challenges were par for the course.
Amid all that, there was one man who didn't let it get to him. Kane had to wait a long time before converting his penalty but never lost his cool:
If Kane had missed the penalty, England's collapse might have come a lot sooner, and the Three Lions may have never gotten to the shootout in the first place.
Kane's composure stood out when compared to that of some of his team-mates—Jesse Lingard and Harry Maguire in particular. Both were caught on camera taking terrible dives and should consider themselves lucky not to have been punished with a booking.
The captain's example is one his team-mates should follow in the coming matches—composure is key in the latter stages of a major tournament.
The Tottenham Hotspur man may well be the favourite for the Golden Boot at this point, and his mental fortitude is a big reason why.
Colombia Expose English Lack of Creativity, Versatility
England may have gotten the win on Tuesday, but the Colombians highlighted a key weakness for the Three Lions that could come back to haunt them later in the tournament.
The team received little to no attacking output from the central midfielders, and their lack of action isolated Kane for large stretches of the match. Manager Gareth Southgate's tactical plan appeared to be centered on upfield runs and crosses, and when that didn't work, there was no Plan B.
Fans thought it was a familiar pattern:
Fortunately for England, Colombia didn't have their star man in the centre to take advantage. With no James Rodriguez on the pitch, they too struggled for creativity and barely created chances.
But if the quarter-finals play out the way people expect them to, Croatia will be waiting for the Three Lions in the semi-finals, and Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic will feast on England's limited midfield.
It's an issue Southgate will have to resolve fast, and he may have to turn to Ruben Loftus-Cheek to help out. Dele Alli's fitness isn't where it should be after taking a knock—it may be a good idea to move him to the bench.
Barrios Booking Shows VAR's Limitations
Wilmar Barrios was the first man to get booked on Tuesday in the latest controversial incident that highlighted the use of the video assistant at the World Cup.
The defender clashed with Jordan Henderson and gave the Englishman a nudge with his head, sending him crashing to the floor. Fans of the Three Lions called it a headbutt; fans of Colombia called it a flop.
Referee Mark Geiger consulted with VAR and did the one thing he shouldn't have done―change his original decision of "no foul" to a yellow for Barrios. Sportswriters didn't understand:
If it was a headbutt, it should have been a red card; if it was not, Geiger should have let it go. Instead, he chose the middle road, making VAR look silly in the process. This isn't on the video assistant―referees have to know how to use it properly.
The quarter-finals will kick off on Friday, with Belgium taking on Brazil and Uruguay facing France.