Despite the fevered atmosphere inside Spartak Stadium, Eric Dier scored the winning kick after Jordan Pickford’s brilliant save from Carlos Bacca.
The extra 30 minutes could not separate the sides and led to a nerve-shredding finale that has so often been England’s undoing, with a stark record of just one win in seven shootouts at major tournaments before this.
England looked to be set for more agony when Jordan Henderson’s penalty was saved by David Ospina but Mateus Uribe smacked the following kick on to the crossbar to pave the way for Pickford and Dier to be England’s saviours.
Southgate’s side looked to have emerged unscarred from an ill-disciplined match courtesy of Harry Kane’s penalty, only for Colombia’s Yerry Mina to equalise in the closing seconds of closure to send the massed ranks of Colombia fans wild.
Manager Gareth Southgate celebrated with his staff while his players mobbed the heroes Pickford and Dier after their first win at the knockout stage of major tournament since 2006.
No previous world champions stand between England and the final. The winners of their quarter-final will face either Croatia or hosts Russia for a place in the Moscow showpiece on 15 July.
England won a World Cup penalty shootout for the first time on a night of inflated drama in Moscow, defeating Colombia to secure a quarter-final meeting with Sweden.
England’s famous triumph sets up a meeting with Sweden in Samara on Saturday.