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Thursday 15 November 2018

Stones happy to see the back of Colombia

STRONG WORDS: England defender John Stones. Pic: PA
STRONG WORDS: England defender John Stones. Pic: PA

John Stones has branded Colombia "the dirtiest team I've ever come up against" and revealed the South Americans attempted to distract England's penalty takers during their dramatic shootout victory.

Tuesday's last-16 clash was a brazenly ill-tempered affair, with England fractious at times but Colombia guilty of flouting disciplinary norms throughout the encounter.

Among the worst examples of misconduct were Wilmar Barrios' headbutt on Jordan Henderson, which was leniently punished with one of six Colombian cautions, Johan Mojica's attempt to rake the penalty spot with his studs before Harry Kane's second-half spot-kick and the shoulder barge on Raheem Sterling by fitness coach Eduardo Julio Urtasun.

England might have emerged victorious, with a quarter-final date against Sweden as their prize, but Stones was still seething.

"The game was so strange, probably the dirtiest team I've ever come up against," he said.

"That's in respect of when we won the penalty, 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.

"That's down to their players, it's their image and how they've represented their country. Some things I hadn't even seen, like the incident with Raheem and one of their staff. I've never seen a game like this before and how they behaved. I thought there could have been several red cards."

Antics

He also accused them of unsportsmanlike antics during the climax of the match.

"If you watch it back they were saying a lot of things to us while the lads were walking up to take the penalties," he said. "There was a lot of movement on their behalf. The lads kept a cool head and credit to them."

The Manchester City defender could not resist adding a little salt into the wounds too, adding: "To beat them at football - you can't do anything better than that. That will hurt more than us getting into a scrap with them and they get one of our players sent off.

"At the end of the day they're back on the plane, we're still here."

The prospect of taking on Sweden in Samara with a World Cup semi-final at stake should be enough to focus the minds. And if that does not do it, the increasingly fevered reactions of fans in England should.

Stones added: "We'd like to bring it home. We want to make people proud back home, the nation proud of the England team. The dream is there, and why not?

"Everyone's getting behind us in their thousands. I'm getting videos and pictures from my friends back home watching the game in the pubs, wherever they are in the country.

"We're in a bit of a bubble here, we can't really get out to socialise, so to be able to experience that from where we are here through our friends is massively important to us.

"To be getting the videos through of everybody celebrating is kind of like a home from home. We want to keep performing and keep making those nights."

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