Eight yellow cards. A head-butt. Yelling players surrounding the referee. Gamesmanship and spikiness across the pitch. Decided on a penalty shoot-out, the World Cup drama of England versus Colombia would have been better without the ugliness. Among those who thought so: Colombia coach Jose Pekerman.
“When there are so many fouls and interruptions I think that’s not good,” he said. “We shouldn’t only look at Colombian players. We should also look at England players.”
Struggling at times to keep control of the game, American referee Mark Geiger dished out six yellow cards to Colombian players. Four of them were in a particularly ill-disciplined 12-minute second-half spell that included Colombia midfielder Carlos Sanchez wrestling England striker Harry Kane to the ground on a set-piece in the penalty box. Kane scored from the spot.
The two England players cautioned were Jordan Henderson and Jesse Lingard. “There were so many interruptions in the game, far too many interruptions,” Pekerman said. “That hasn’t been good for us. It’s hurt our side a lot.
“As soon as the ball was in the box, the players were not cool and composed. They were a bit afraid… But we’ve been brave, we’ve fought hard, we’ve never thrown in the towel.” Pekerman said, as players consoled each other in tears.
“We had great ambitions. This is very difficult to accept. We are feeling hurt.”
Wilmar Barrios got the first yellow card, after he butted his head into Henderson’s chest and then his chin. The England midfielder fell to the ground theatrically.
England manager Gareth Southgate defended his players’ behaviour.
“If we were down, it was because we were fouled,” he said.
Colombia at least have the consolation of showcasing another star in the form of towering defender Yerry Mina, whose three goals, including Tuesday’s 93rd minute equaliser against England, earned him the nickname “Mina de Oro” or gold mine.