Before we sum up the final four fixtures of the last 16 for you, may we all just take a moment to appreciate Everton’s own England Number 1, Jordan Pickford.
Now let’s crack on. Brazil kicked things off in the second half of the first knockout games with a 2-0 victory over Hirving Lozano’s Mexico. Neymar and Roberto Firmino scored for the Selecao to set up a tasty quarter-final with Belgium, and Lozano again had fans on the edge of their seats with his every touch, but couldn’t affect the final result. Now, may the bidding begin.
Belgium staged a dramatic comeback in the last half hour of a difficult encounter with Japan, after goals from Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui sent the Belgians into panic mode. However, a looping header from Jan Vertonghen, and substitute goals from former Blue Marouane Fellaini and the impressive Nacer Chadli ensured they progressed to the next round, to the devastation of the Japanese.
Emil Forsberg’s second half-strike in a 1-0 win against Switzerland set up a quarter-final clash with England, and Swiss full-back Michael Lang was shown his marching orders in stoppage time. Xherdan Shaqiri played 90 minutes, and will return home to face a big decision on his club future.
Finally, England overcame Colombia in exhilarating fashion on penalties, after seemingly having the match tied up 1-0 before Yerry Mina’s stoppage time equaliser. The goal followed a wonderful Jordan Pickford save from an audacious 40-yard shot which was heading for the top corner, by Mateus Uribe. After a nervy extra-time for the English, Pickford came to the rescue again in penalties, saving Carlos Bacca’s spot-kick with a left-hand on his way to diving to his right. Another former Blue (oh, what could have been) Eric Dier scored the winning penalty to send the Three Lions to the quarter-final and secure England’s first ever win via penalty shootout in World Cup history.