In a game short on skill where little went on at either end, Colombia and England could only manage a goalless draw in their last Group D appearance in Dubai. The result means the South Americans progress to the second stage at UAE 2003. The Europeans, meanwhile, bounce out of the competition with a single point and not one goal to their name.
The hopeful long ball that England pumped up straight from the kick-off was a taste of things to come at Al-Maktoum Stadium. Both teams wrestled to gain dominance in the opening minutes, so there were few consecutive passes strung together and neither keeper was called upon. Colombia barely came close with shots from outside the area, Victor Montano's effort being the most noteworthy. The slick-haired number 11 had a dig, but the ball went high under the watchful eye of Andy Lonergan (13').
Colombian keeper Hector Landazuri found himself stranded off his line when he came out poorly to meet an England corner-kick. The gift fell to Ben Bowditch's feet, but his shot flew well wide (18').
The best chance of the evening fell to the South Americans. A cross in from the left found Macnelly Torres arriving at speed. The number 10 connected with a superb volley that was a hair's breadth away from ending up in the English keeper's top left-hand corner (34').
Immediately after the break, it looked like Les Reed's boys had come round to the idea of attacking. Ben Bowditch, with a right-footed strike from inside the area had Landazuri in trouble (47').
That shot, however, was to be the flower in the desert of a barren second half. Neither team worried the other's keeper until substitute Javier Araujo tried his luck against Lonergan, who showed a lightning set of reflexes to parry away to his right (90').
We have to admit, it wasn't the greatest game we've seen so far. It was a very slow, tactical tie. The important thing is we're through to the next round. It depends on us now how far we can go," Colombia's coach, Rondaldo Rueda, said after the match.
Les Reed, meanwhile, insisted he was "very proud" of his players, who "in spite of not scoring any goals, gave it their best out there. We're more experienced now and we hope to make amends in the next edition, in 2005," he concluded.