How England overcame Colombian street fight to delight of the nation

To those who don’t understand the power of football, try this. One swing of a boot, a solitary kick of a ball last night lit the touch paper to uninhibited celebrations among tens of millions of television viewers.

From youngsters to pensioners they were out of their seats, some screaming, some singing, some just breathless and open mouthed. For that moment nothing else really mattered. Even Ant and Dec, universally adored, at their brilliant best can’t elicit that response. Nothing really compares.

What is more come the weekend you might be at it all over again when England play Sweden for a place in the World Cup semi-final, if this young England team hasn’t already burnt all the physical and emotional energy reserves it was storing up.

Last night would have drained them. Not just two hours of intense effort but coping the entire time with the snarling, cynical Colombians. They did not want to play football, they wanted a street fight. To England’s credit, they refused to get dragged in. Or down.

Colombia players argue with the referee during their match against England. Credit: PA

Not only that, when faced with a sucker punch at the worst possible time, they didn’t buckle. Many England teams before them would have done. No, they stood tall, saw out another fairly even 30 minutes and steadied themselves for something their forefathers have habitually failed at - the penalty shoot out.

The fact they won it was one thing, the fact they did it after trailing in the head to head, shows what this lot are made of.

Jubilation in a street party in Bermondsey, London. Credit: PA
England's World Cup campaign has seen wild street parties across the country. Credit: PA

In previous teams, the England shirt seems to have weighed so heavily. In previous battles in the face of intimidation the red mist has been impossible to hold back.

Neither was true last night. In fact, they even took themselves right up to that line but crucially knew not to cross it.

Whether they go any further in this tournament or not, there is something special happening here. If not right now in Russia then very definitely in the not too distant future.

The raw emotion of victory: England coach Gareth Southgate celebrates. Credit: PA