Stones: Colombia the dirtiest team I've ever faced
The England defender took great joy in seeing off the South Americans in a World Cup penalty shoot-out after enduring their antics over 120 minutes
John Stones admits Colombia are “the dirtiest team” he has ever faced, with England having had to contend with some unusual tactics in a World Cup last-16 encounter.
The South Americans set out to unsettle the Three Lions from the off, giving a physical edge to a highly-charged contest.
Jordan Henderson was headbutted by Wilmar Barrios at one stage, while Raheem Sterling was barged by fitness coach Julio Urtasu as he made his way off at half-time.
Colombia then attempted to unsettle Harry Kane following the award of a second half penalty, with the spot being scuffed amid protests to referee Mark Geiger, but England refused to rise to the provocation and eventually prevailed 4-3 in a shootout.
Stones, who took great pleasure in turning towards his opponents when celebrating Eric Dier’s decisive spot kick, told reporters on an odd encounter: “The game was so strange.
“Probably the dirtiest team I have ever come up against. In the respect of when we won a penalty – they were surrounding the referee, even pushing the referee.
“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.
“All the sort of things you don’t really hear in a football match. On our behalf, it showed massive character to keep a cool head and not get sucked into their game.
“When you play a team that want to fight and disturb your momentum, you can sometimes get dragged into it. That’s what they want.
“We stuck to our plan and kept playing our way of football.
“It’s a great sign for a team to have that sort of quality, to have tunnel vision of what we want out of the game plan. It was a difficult situation to be in, but one we overcame and can be proud of.”
England’s perseverance against Colombia has carried them through to a quarter-final clash with Sweden, with that contest set to be staged at the Samara Arena on Saturday.