Gareth Southgate says England have 'brilliant opportunity' to end knockout hoodoo

Gareth Southgate
Image: Gareth Southgate takes charge of his first ever knockout match in a senior tournament on Tuesday

Gareth Southgate says England have a brilliant opportunity to end their miserable record in the knockout stages of major tournaments.

England take on Colombia in the last-16 of the World Cup in Moscow on Tuesday looking for their first victory in a knockout match since 2006.

Spain were regarded as the toughest possible opponent in England's half of the draw, but they were knocked out by hosts Russia on Monday.

England's path to the final - should they beat Colombia - would be either Switzerland or Sweden in the quarter-finals, and then Croatia or Russia in the semis.

"For this team, this is a brilliant opportunity to go beyond where more experienced teams have before them," said Southgate.

 during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Spain and Russia at Luzhniki Stadium on July 1, 2018 in Moscow, Russia.
Image: Spain were knocked-out in the last-16 by Russia on Monday

"The lads have got the chance to write their own stories.

"The thing I want more than anything else is the players to continue to attack the tournament as we have. That shouldn't change now we are in the knockout phase. If anything we should feel freer.

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"It is a game we are really looking forward to, the sort of match you want to be involved in. It is going to be a fantastic evening."

However, Southgate did warn that England should not get ahead of themselves as they still have to get past Colombia, who reached the last-eight of the 2014 World Cup.

He said: "We have to focus on the game tomorrow. We have a very difficult opponent, a very good side who we respect.

"We've got to concentrate on our football, playing in the style we have throughout the tournament, playing with the same mentality, and make sure we show the resilience and play with the freedom that we have up to this point."

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