England's John Stones: Colombia are the dirtiest team I have come up against
John Stones described Colombia as "probably the dirtiest team" he has ever played against and praised England for showing "massive character" to resist the provocation and adversity they faced at Spartak Stadium and reach the World Cup quarterfinals.
After a game with 36 fouls and eight yellow cards, both teams ended the match less than satisfied with referee Mark Geiger and Colombia manager Jose Pekerman accused England of faking fouls in the ill-tempered contest.
Colombia's aggression angered England players throughout the match, particularly when Wilmar Barrios escaped a red card for what appeared to be a deliberate head-butt on Jordan Henderson in the buildup to a free kick.
"The game was so strange," Stones said in a news conference. "[Colombia are] probably the dirtiest team I have ever come up against. In the respect of when we won a penalty -- they were surrounding the referee, even pushing the referee. The head-butt I'm sure you've all seen. Scuffing the penalty spot.
"[There was] a lot of off-the-ball stuff that I'm sure you have 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 sucked into their game. When you play a team that want to fight and disturb your momentum, you can sometimes get dragged into it.
"We stuck to our plan and kept playing our way of football. It's a great sign for a team to have that sort of quality, to have tunnel vision of what we want out of the game plan. It was a difficult situation to be in, but one we overcame and can be proud of."
England rested at their training base in Repino on Wednesday before starting preparations for Saturday's match against Sweden in Samara on Thursday.
Jamie Vardy was the only player to sit out the session as he nurses a groin injury that prevented him from taking a penalty in the shootout against Colombia.
Reaching the quarterfinals means England have already met most reasonable pre-tournament expectations for this squad, but Stones is setting his sights higher.
"I've said it from the start -- I'd love to win the World Cup," he added. "I've dreamt about it. That's what we want to do. I said before the tournament that if we can't come here just to get through the games and see what happens -- there is no point in doing that.
"You need to have something there you can grab with both hands. I'd love to win a World Cup, England would love to win a World Cup. It's been a long time and we want to make people proud of the team.
"We are one step closer to doing that but still games to go starting with Sweden. As I said, the dream is there -- why not?"
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.