KEIR RADNEDGE in MOSCOW: England captain Harry Kane, the 2018 World Cup’s leading marksman, expressed his pride in the team after the shootout defeat of Colombia and the burgeoning sense of expectation about the prospects ahead in Russia.
Victory by 4-3 after a 1-1 extra-time draw at Moscow Spartak propelled manager Gareth Southgate’s team into a quarter-final against Sweden in Samara on Saturday afternoon.
Kane scored his sixth goal of the finals from the penalty spot to put England into a 1-0 second half lead then converted their first spotkick and was ultimately voted official man of the match.
Afterwards he said: “I’m so proud, there were so many emotions in that game. I thought we played really well. We were so unlucky to concede in the last minute but we stood tall. It shows the togetherness and character in the squad and these are the moments when you see it. It’s a big night for England.
“We’ve spoken a lot about being a young team but we grew up a lot on that pitch tonight with all the high and lows even in the penalty shootout. The boys were fantastic. Penalty shootouts are a lot about mentality and it was nice to get that [jinx] off our back and go forward as a team.”
England could only benefit mentally from the knowledge of achieving both progress to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2006 and overcoming the sad shootout history.
Kane said: “It’ll give us huge belief. We qualified through the group quite comfortably. Then it was: can you win a knockout game? Next: can you win a penalty shootout? We’ve ticked all those boxes so far. The supporters are enjoying it, we’re enjoying it and now we’re looking forward to the next one.”
Along the way on Tuesday night Kane also became the first player to score in six consecutive England appearances since Tommy Lawton in 1939.
Asked for his reaction to that achievement, Kane said: “I’m extremely proud. As a striker you want to score goals, do your job, help the team [because] now we want to do still better and go a long way in this tournament.”