Harry Kane believes Gareth Southgate’s England side came of age in Moscow after navigating a dramatic penalty shootout to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.
Kane thought he had seen off a fractious Colombia side in normal time when he nervelessly converted a second half penalty – his sixth goal of the tournament and third spot-kick.
But Yerry Mina’s injury-time header levelled things, putting an exhausted England through half-an-hour of tension in extra-time followed by a nerve-shredding shootout.
The Three Lions came through, as they had only done once before in their previous seven attempts, with Kane’s opener setting the tone, Jordan Pickford saving at a crucial moment and Kane’s Tottenham team-mate Eric Dier slotting the winner.
Kane said: “Obviously we’d spoken a lot about being an inexperienced and young team, but we grew up a lot on that pitch.
“There were mixed emotions, highs and lows, even in the penalty shoot-out. We were behind, and wanting Pickers to save one, and he did. It showed our mentality.
“It showed the togetherness and character. These are the moments you really see that. It’s a big night for England.
“This will give us more belief than ever, and the fans more belief than ever back home.”
England had looked bereft when Colombia drew level in the dying seconds of a match that had long since escaped the control of the referee.
But with tempers flaring, England held their nerve.
“We were so unlucky to concede in the last minute, but we stood up, we were tall and didn’t let it affect us,” said the captain.
“We knew we had extra-time and the penalty shoot-out. It showed the togetherness and character. These are the moments you really see that. It’s a big night for England.”
As for his own achievement – matching Gary Lineker’s goal tally from 1986 and strengthening his grasp on the golden boot – Kane added: “Extremely proud. You want to help the team and score goals, and we’ve had a few penalties in this tournament.
“Hopefully this continues. I’m extremely proud of these achievements, but I want to do better and do more. I’m just looking forward to the next game.”