Spain’s loss to Russia opened up the bottom half of the World Cup draw and it was expected that the winner of England v Colombia would take advantage of a benign run till the final.

As it happened, it was England who emerged triumphant in a 4-3 shoot-out victory after the teams were locked 1-1 at the end of extra-time. For the Three Lions, it was a slice of history being made as they won their first-ever shoot-out at the World Cup, on their fourth attempt.

Spot-kicks, often considered the bane of English football and used as an example to showcase the frailties of the 1966 champions, will not be the topic of discussion in the English camp. Instead, Gareth Southgate’s men will have to just talk about their impending quarter-final against Sweden.

The big question prior to the game was obviously related to James Rodriguez and whether he would start in a crucial Round of 16 clash for Los Cafeteros. England’s ability to crumble at the first sign of star-dust in the opposition was not to be tested on this occasion.

This left Jose Pekerman with a huge dilemma. In the absence of their chief creator and the 2016 Golden Boot winner, the attacking quartet of James, Radamel Falcao, Juan Cuadrado and Juan Quintero would lose its focal point.

Keep in mind that this quartet took Poland apart in the group stages with James pulling the strings. Pekerman opted for his inner Mourinho; the veteran Argentine who oversaw his country’s 2006 campaign, went for Jefferson Lerna.

A third defensive midfielder for James effectively killed the South Americans’ attacking game, but gave Colombia an extra body in front of defence to break down English attacks. Pekerman set his team up to stall, and he achieved just that.

England were buoyed by the fact that they were back to their pre-tournament favoured XI as Dele Alli played in the hole behind Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane. Southgate’s choice of a 3-5-2 seemed odd, considering Sterling’s advanced position and his lack of goals.

Southgate needn’t have worried. Against a Colombia side which was designed to stifle, Sterling was their most willing runner, and his movements from a central position to out wide appeared to give Kane and Alli more space and time in the middle.

Colombia never really threatened and it appeared that getting under the skin of the Englishmen was their strategy on the night. Wilmar Barrios’ headbutt on Jordan Henderson could so easily have been a red, but it wasn’t the only flashpoint of the game.

Provocation was the mantra and given the history England had with red cards in crucial knockout games, a repeat of Wayne Rooney vs Portugal in 2006 or David Beckham vs Argentina in 1998 would have evoked the ‘mental strength’ argument.

As it happened, the red card that threatened to unravel it all never arrived as there were no hot-heads at the Spartak Stadium. More signs that Southgate has much to offer in terms of changing the DNA of English national football teams.

Against a feisty and combative Colombia, England could very easily have taken the bait but they didn’t. Carlos Sanchez took the shirt-grabbing one step too far and Harry Kane converted a penalty, which saw them cruising towards a quarter-final spot.

Colombia’s response was to bring on Carlos Bacca, a clear indication that Pekerman wanted the handbrakes off. The South Americans looked more focused in attack with two up top, as Santiago Arias crossed the ball into the box in search of an equaliser.

It was Walker who pushed the panic button as a horrendous back-pass was intercepted by Bacca, setting up a 3-on-2 situation but Juan Cuadrado, presented with Colombia’s biggest chance of the night, fluffed his lines.

Yerry Mina stepped up once again, and two minutes from time, his bullet header brought his team level. Extra time brought no sensational attacking play as penalties beckoned and old England jokes re-surfaced.

In hindsight, it was a penalty shoot-out of the highest order as the saves that David Ospina and Jordan Pickford made were top-notch. As Bacca saw his kick saved by the Everton goalie, up stepped Eric Dier, nervelessly slotting it in to give his side a historic win.

This was England’s first knock-out round win since 2006, and further signs that this team is headed in the right way. Up next Sweden and a shot at a first semis appearance since 1990.