World Cup 2018: Gareth Southgate's England pass all the tests
England turned history on its head to win their first World Cup penalty shootout at the expense of Colombia, and in doing so recorded their first knockout victory at a major tournament since 2006.
So how significant will this England triumph prove to be for Gareth Southgate and his squad after showing strength and resolve to recover from conceding an injury-time equaliser?
England clear psychological hurdle
England's elation was obvious and understandable as Eric Dier's penalty flashed past David Ospina and the cacophony from Colombia's fans was finally silenced here in Moscow.
They had won their first knockout match at a major tournament since Ecuador were beaten in Germany in 2006 and the curse of the penalty shootout was finally laid to rest as they won to set up a quarter-final against Sweden in Samara on Saturday.
England and their followers have nursed a barely concealed sense of dread of spot-kicks after a dismal run in penalty shootouts, which brought only one win in seven before Tuesday.
So it would have been easy for those old nightmares to be revisited when Jordan Henderson's penalty was saved - but instead Jordan Pickford's save from Carlos Bacca, on top of Mateus Uribe's miss, set up Dier's golden moment.
In an instant, the monkey was off England's back - and amid the fallout of this landmark victory came a sense that Southgate and his players may just be destined to make their mark here in Russia.
Southgate's men pass all the tests
England, in many respects, have had a comfortable ride so far at this World Cup.
Tunisia and Panama were pliable opponents, ensuring early qualification for the last 16 and allowing Southgate to rest players for the final Group G game against Belgium, a loss that has presented a less arduous path through the knockout phase.
This meeting with Colombia was different. Very different.
In a sporting context, England could have been walking into a trap in the Spartak Stadium amid an atmosphere so rare for a World Cup knockout game.
England's fans were swamped by Colombia's, a small but defiant group at one end vastly outnumbered by the cascade of yellow shirts that decorated the rest of this arena.
And how they supported their team, with a continuous, thunderous roar only interrupted by deafening chants and occasional bursts of dissent at referee Mark Geiger.
It was played like a win-or-bust European game on the most hostile territory and was at times a harrowing experience that will serve Southgate and England well going forward.
And then came the mental and physical examinations posed by Jose Pekerman's team as they disputed almost every decision, indulged in grappling throughout and even saw one of their coaching staff give Raheem Sterling a deliberate and totally unnecessary nudge as he came off at half-time.
There was another element of dirty tricks when Harry Kane waited four minutes to take his penalty, Colombia's Johan Mojica scuffing up the penalty spot amid scenes close to anarchy as others in yellow tried to get inside the England captain's head.
England needed to pass those tests, such as when Wilmar Barrios moved his head in Jordan Henderson's direction. Despite occasionally getting involved in the skirmishes, England survived and will be all the better for this time in a hostile environment.
Southgate should also be satisfied with how his players responded to the physical demands of the occasion.
England looked out on their feet in the first half of extra time, but rallied later on and it was Colombia who were engineering play to reach the relative safe haven of penalties.
But it was England who claimed the satisfaction of victory - and in the rarest of fashions.
If Southgate wanted this World Cup to be a learning curve for his players - a finishing school at elite level - this bruising, argumentative, niggly match was perfectly designed for the purpose.
Redemption for celebrating Southgate
Southgate revelled in the drama and elation of this emotional night as he emerged from the dressing room to conduct their band of supporters in song well after the final whistle.
This was a glorious night on several levels for Southgate as he guided England into a quarter-final with Sweden and with possibility of a last-four meeting with hosts Russia or Croatia should they prevail.
Southgate has his own history with penalties after missing the crucial spot-kick against Germany in the Euro 96 semi-final at Wembley - now he has a happier entry on the other side of the ledger.
He will have also known, indeed he admitted, that much was riding on the result of this game following his decision to make eight changes in the loss to Belgium that meant England finished second in their group.
Southgate knows how it works.
If England had lost here, that selection and subsequent defeat would have been pinpointed as the time when vital momentum built up against Tunisia and Panama was lost. He would have been accused of the same flaws that pulled the rug out from under one of his predecessors, Roy Hodgson, after he made six alterations and only got a goalless draw against Slovakia in the final group game at the ill-fated Euro 2016.
Instead, England won and while there can be no guarantees, being in a half of draw that now includes Sweden, Russia and Croatia is unquestionably preferable to one containing Brazil, Uruguay, France and Belgium.
Southgate has also overseen a landmark victory that will lift his confidence and that of his team.
No-one would pretend this was a perfect England performance to send fear through future opponents - but this was not that type of night, opponent or atmosphere.
It was a night to get the job done and take a significant step forward in this superb World Cup.
And on that basis, Southgate and his joyous England squad can reflect on a job well done.
- England not bowed by history - Southgate
- Three Lions beat Colombia to reach last eight
- Who had their best game in an England shirt? Player ratings v Colombia
- World Cup Daily podcast: The England win on penalties pod
|2018 Fifa World Cup on the BBC|
|Host: Russia Dates: 14 June - 15 July|
|Live: Coverage across BBC TV, BBC Radio and BBC Sport website with further coverage on Red Button, Connected TVs and mobile app.|