MOSCOW (Reuters) - Colombia’s efforts to reach the World Cup quarter-finals for the second straight time were hampered by refereeing interruptions and constant calls from England’s players for fouls in the South Americans’ last 16 loss on penalties, said coach Jose Pekerman.
Colombia missed one penalty and saw another saved in the shootout to go down 4-3 after forcing the game to extra time courtesy of a last-gasp equalizer by Yerry Mina that saw them level the scores at 1-1.
But Pekerman said the England players were demanding fouls which in his opinion were not, complaining to American referee Mark Geiger and affecting the flow of Colombia’s game.
“There were many situations, as expected, and everybody knew the match would be like this and I think we have to try to defend football,” the Argentine coach said.
“We have to do something to protect football when certain situations arise. It is uncomfortable to play this match with such refereeing decisions.”
“When there are so many fouls that just cannot happen. We have to find ways to avoid that.”
England went ahead with a 57th minute Harry Kane penalty after the forward was wrestled to the ground but Pekerman said England’s players were constantly attempting to force decisions.
“A player fakes a foul, they are trying to get the referee to book another player,” he said. “There is a lot of confusion with this type of play. All those situations are determining situations.”
The game was bad-tempered and Geiger at times allowed players to get away with dissent. In total six Colombia players were booked to England’s two.
“We saw a difficult match and this does not mean that England have not done well,” Pekerman said, adding that his team had also failed to pose a greater threat in the area.
“It was very difficult to get into the match. There was a lot of rhythm and speed but as soon as the ball was in the box my players were not cool and composed. They were a bit afraid.”
“We did not use our football to create more danger.”
Colombia were also missing injured talisman James Rodriguez through injury.
“One of our key players was not present,” Pekerman said. “In terms of creative football and finishing James is a decisive player. Unfortunately he was not in top shape.”
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ken Ferris