England defender John Stones has branded Colombia the “dirtiest” team he has ever faced as the fallout from their World Cup clash continues.
The Manchester City centre-back admits he was astounded at the tricks Colombia played during the second-round clash in Moscow on Tuesday.
England won 4-3 on penalties following a 1-1 draw after extra-time to book a quarter-final clash with Sweden on Saturday.
But Stones highlighted a number of incidents – including Wilmar Barrios avoiding a red card for a headbutt on Jordan Henderson – and was critical of Colombia’s physical and mental provocation
He said: “The game was so strange. It was the dirtiest team I’ve ever come up against, in the respect of when we won a penalty, surrounding the referee, pushing the referee, the headbutt you’ve all seen, scuffing the penalty spot, a lot of off the ball stuff I’m sure you’ve 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 dragged into their game.
“We stuck to our plan and kept playing our way of football and that’s a great quality to have. It was a difficult situation but one we’ve overcome and can be proud of.”
Stones, though, refused to go into detail over exactly what Colombia were doing off the ball.
“I’d rather not, it would get me in a bit of trouble. I’ve never seen a game like that before and how they behaved,” he said. “I thought there could have been several red cards – mainly off-the-ball stuff.
“If the referee sees the headbutt it’s a totally different game.
“The best thing for us was to beat them at football, that is the biggest thing which will hurt them.
“They’re on the plane going home and we’re in the next round. We stuck to our gameplan and to beat them at football, that will hurt more than us getting into a scrap.”
Stones confirmed Jamie Vardy did not train with the group on Thursday as he nurses a groin injury ahead of Saturday’s game in Samara.
Stones added: “There’s no easy games. If you say it’s an easy game in a quarter final of the World Cup you’d be stupid. They have a lot of quality.”