World Cup: Croatia break England hearts to reach the final
Croatia will now play France but Gareth Southgate is ‘remarkably proud’ of his young Three Lions
Croatia 2 England 1 (after extra-time)
England’s dream of reaching the World Cup final has been crushed after losing in extra-time against Croatia in Moscow.
Croatia will now play France in Sunday’s final while England and Belgium will battle in the third/fourth place play-off on Saturday.
The Three Lions had a superb start when Kieran Trippier scored from a free-kick after only five minutes and Gareth Southgate’s side had the Croatians on the rails in the first-half.
But as the game went on Croatia came more into the game and they equalised after 68 minutes through Ivan Perisic.
The match went into extra-time and although Croatia had played 120 minutes in the two previous rounds they looked the stronger side in the added 30 minutes. And it was striker Mario Mandzukic who scored the winner after 109 minutes to send Croatia into their first ever World Cup final.
It was heartbreak again for England, who lost in the semi-final in 1990, but Southgate was pleased with what his young team had achieved in Russia.
After the match he said: “I’m remarkably proud of this group of players who’ve really advanced over this tournament. The reaction of the supporters at the end compared to two years ago tells them that England experiences can be positive, the country is proud of what they’ve done and that there will in time be other positives to take.
“At the moment we all feel the pain of the defeat. We didn’t realistically expect to be here but when you get to this point and playing as well as we have you want to take those opportunities.”