Dele Alli and England keep Milton Keynes dreaming the World Cup dream
Milton Keynes was in raptures on Tuesday night, daring to dream that football may just be coming home, and one of our own was a part of it all.
Dele Alli returned to Gareht Southgate’s starting line-up for the first knock-out round as England beat Colombia on penalties to progress to the quarter finals.
Having recovered from a thigh strain which kept him sidelined during the final two group games against Panama and Belgium, Alli returned to the fold in behind Tottenham team-mate Harry Kane, and was first to celebrate with the striker after he dispatched the second half penalty to give England the lead.
The former MK Dons midfielder then missed a great chance to double England’s lead, but his far-post header flew over the top as he was barged over by Santiago Arias.
Several times though, Alli received treatment on the field for a recurring thigh problem and some heavy challenges he had to ride from the increasingly physical Colombians.
It eventually took it’s toll though as the 22-year-old was withdrawn with nine minutes to go, with England appearing comfortable in their 1-0 lead.
Watching nervously on from the bench as Jordan Pickford saved Carlos Bacca’s penalty before storming the field when best friend Eric Dier scored the decisive penalty, Alli showed little signs of a long-term injury issue - his only concern now being Sweden in Saturday’s quarter final.