It was a magnificent night for English football - but there’s some potentially bad news for striker Jamie Vardy
For many of us, it was something that we never thought we’d ever see: England actually triumphing in a penalty shoot-out.
But last night in Moscow, the Three Lions banished their record of 22 years without a shoot-out win in a major tournament, triumphing 4-3 against Colombia after the game finished 1-1 after 90 minutes was followed by goalless extra time.
Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford nailed their penalties before Jordan Henderson saw his effort saved. However, Mateus Uribe then hit the bar, before Kieran Trippier converted, Jordan Pickford pulled off a magnificent save from Carlos Bacca’s effort and then Eric Dier stepped up to put England through and spark wild celebrations.
However, once the initial euphoria had subsided, England fans were starting to question why those five had been selected as penalty takers.
We reported before the game that England’s first five were Harry Kane, Kieran Trippier, Jordan Henderson, Jamie Vardy and Dele Alli.
With Dele Alli being replaced in the 81st minute by Dier as Gareth Southgate looked to see the game out, he was clearly unable to take one. But Vardy came on for Raheem Sterling in the 88th minute and was on the pitch at the end of extra-time.
With Marcus Rashford replacing Kyle Walker in the 113th minute, this should have meant that it was a straight choice between him and Dier to take a penalty - but both of them did so, successfully as it turned out.
Vardy is a regular penalty taker for Leicester, scoring six last season, yet he was overlooked.
However, England fans spotted something about Vardy as the players watched on the halfway line - he was gingerly holding his groin:
He could be seen doing so again as Dier despatched his penalty to win the game:
And more clearly in this photo:
And this tweet too:
Fans were quick to voice their theories:
When they run to celebrate it looked like Vardy was holding his groin & limping— Simon (@Simon_LFC) July 3, 2018
Vardy suffered a groin injury towards the end of the match. Pictures of him holding it and that’s why he didn’t take a penalty but Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool fans saying he “bottled it”. 🤷🏻♂️— Oliver (@bonzosmate) July 4, 2018
It turns out that the fans had called it right as the Telegraph are now reporting that Vardy had an injection in his groin immediately after the game - with the problem seemingly occurring in the fifth minute of injury time, which explains why the Leicester forward was not as explosive as normal.
Despite making it to the end of extra-time, Southgate’s policy on penalty takers is that they must be ‘fit and comfortable to strike’, and with Vardy being honest, it fell to the next in line, which it is believed is Eric Dier.
Remarkably, none of Kieran Trippier, Marcus Rashford or Eric Dier have ever taken a penalty in a first team game - but they showed nerves of steel last night to guide England to a quarter-final showdown on Saturday afternoon with Sweden.
Meanwhile, Jamie Vardy faces a race against time to be fit, with the striker a crucial option to have off the bench for Gareth Southgate.