England defender John Stones has lashed out at Colombia following the meeting between the two nations in the FIFA World Cup on Tuesday, saying they're the "dirtiest team" he's faced in his career.
The Three Lions eventually came through a tense contest between the two sides thanks to a penalty shootout, although the game was full of numerous flashpoints. When asked about the spiky match on Thursday, Stones didn't hold back in his assessment of Los Cafeteros, per Phil McNulty of BBC Sport:
"They were probably the dirtiest team that I've ever come up against, in the respect of, when we won a penalty, surrounding the referee, even pushing the referee.
"There was the head butt [on Jordan Henderson] that I'm sure you've all seen. They were scuffing the penalty spot while Harry Kane was waiting to take his penalty.
"There was also a lot of off the ball stuff that I'm sure you've not heard about—all the sort of things that you don't really hear in a football match."
Here's more of what Stones had to say, courtesy of Sky Sports World Cup:
Sky Sports World Cup @SkyFootball
"The headbutt I'm sure you've all seen. Scuffing the penalty spot. A lot of off the ball stuff that I'm sure you have not heard about." 😠 John Stones says Colombia are the 'dirtiest' team he has ever faced: https://t.co/VeAYkJDdWO #Eng #ThreeLions #WorldCup https://t.co/j7eIc9Jr1i
In the first half, Wilmar Barrios escaped with just a yellow card despite replays showing he appeared to put his head into the chest and then chin of Jordan Henderson.
Then, when England were awarded a penalty in the second period, the Colombia players surrounded the referee during their protests and a number of players could be seen kicking the turf around the penalty spot.
In the end, Kane scored his penalty before Yerry Mina grabbed a last-gasp equaliser for Colombia in stoppage time. After a goalless 30 minutes in extra time, Eric Dier scored the winning penalty after Jordan Pickford had saved from Carlos Bacca.
John Cross of the Daily Mirror noted that both sides were unhappy with how the other behaved and was critical of how referee Mark Geiger officiated the game:
The comments from Stones come after Colombia skipper Radamel Falcao criticised the American official.
"I found it peculiar that they put an American referee in this instance," the striker said, per the Guardian. "To tell you the truth, the process leaves a lot of doubts. He only spoke English, some bias was certain."
The Guardian also noted former Argentina international and World Cup icon Diego Maradona said England benefitted from a "monumental robbery."
On the contrary, former Norway international Jan Aage Fjortoft was critical of the Colombia players for persistent haranguing of the referee:
England will play Sweden in the quarter-finals of the competition, as the win over Colombia sees them in the last eight at the World Cup for the first time since 2006.
Stones has been a crucial part of Gareth Southgate's new-look side, as he's been the central figure in the three man defence. The Manchester City man netted two goals in the 6-1 win over Pamana, has defended excellently throughout the tournament and has showcased his excellent distribution skills at the base of the side.