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British PM May admits to World Cup penalty nerves

London (AFP) – England’s World Cup penalty shootout win against Colombia proved to be almost as nerve-wracking for British Prime Minister Theresa May as for Gareth Southgate’s players in Russia.

The 61-year-old watched some of Tuesday’s last-16 match that took place in Moscow, a spokesman said, without specifying which part exactly.

England looked on course for relatively serene progress to the quarter-finals for the first time since the 2006 World Cup before they conceded a goal in injury time.

Neither team were able to break the deadlock in extra time so the game went to penalties.

England stumbled first, with Jordan Henderson’s spot-kick saved by Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina.

But Mateus Uribe rattled the crossbar and England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford saved from Carlos Bacca before Eric Dier tucked away the decisive spot-kick to complete a 4-3 win.

“She did see some of (the match),” said a Downing Street spokesman. “She actually said earlier, she struggles to watch penalties because it’s a nerve-wracking time.”

May appeared buoyed by the team’s victory at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons.

“The country witnessed a very rare and welcome event last night — the England football team winning a penalty shootout,” she said.

“I think the explosion of relief and most of all joy could be felt up and down the country. I want to congratulate Gareth Southgate and his team on a great performance.”

May said she was delighted England’s St George’s Cross flag would still fly over Downing Street on Saturday for the match against Sweden.

She had announced previously that the flag would fly over her official residence on days on which England played.

“Last week, I promised to fly the flag of St George above Number 10 for all of England’s remaining matches in the World Cup and I know the whole House will want to join me in wishing the England team the best of luck in Saturday’s quarter-final,” she said.

“Let’s keep that flag flying.”

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