John Stones says Colombia were the “dirtiest team” he has ever faced and is glad England’s new-found streetwise streak helped knock the South Americans out of the World Cup.
A bad-tempered last-16 clash ended 1-1 in Moscow on Tuesday before England won on penalties for the first time ever at a World Cup to reach the quarter-finals.
Harry Kane opened the scoring with his sixth goal of the tournament from the penalty spot but England were furious that American referee Mark Geiger only showed a yellow card for a first-half headbutt by Wilmar Barrios on Jordan Henderson.
“Probably the dirtiest team I’ve ever come up against,” Stones said of Colombia on Thursday.
“When we won the penalty, they were surrounding the referee, pushing the referee, the headbutt that you’ve all seen, scuffing the penalty spot, a lot of off-the-ball things you probably haven’t heard about. All the sort of things that you don’t really hear in a football match.
“I think on our behalf, we showed massive character to keep a cool head and not get sucked into their game.”
"The headbutt I'm sure you've all seen. Scuffing the penalty spot. A lot of off the ball stuff that I'm sure you have not heard about." 😠
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) July 5, 2018
Despite the rough treatment, Jamie Vardy is England’s only injury doubt for the last-eight match against Sweden in Samara on Saturday and Stones said Colombia came off worse in being sent home.
“I think the best thing for us was to beat them at football. That’s the biggest thing that’ll hurt them, is going back on the plane home,” said the Manchester City defender.
“I’ve never seen a game like this before and how they behaved. I thought there could have been several red cards in that game from what happened.”
© Agence France-Presse (additional edits from Chris Kelleher)