Croatia v England World Cup 2018 semi-final preview

12 Julio, 2018, 02:26 | Author: Thomas Hicks
  • Gareth Southgate

Alas, a second-half goal by Croatia sent the game into extra time and Mario Mandzukic's extra time victor put the Croatians into the final against France and relegated England to the third-place game.

Croatia broke English hearts, coming from 1-0 down to beat the Three Lions 2-1 in extra-time and advance to the World Cup final for the first time.

This group, however, have gone one better and will get the chance to avenge the defeat of 20 years ago when they face the French on Sunday back at the same Luzhniki Stadium.

But Croatia, having won on penalties against Denmark and Russian Federation in the last two rounds, saw the game out, dousing the World Cup dream of Gareth Southgate's team that had gone from the improbable to the possible over the last month in Russian Federation.

David Baddiel, who created football anthem Three Lions with Frank Skinner and The Lightning Seeds in 1996, has posted a string of messages about the tournament on social media. Harry Kane & Co. will deal with the same disappointment that felled Shearer and Platt, Gazza and Wazza, Beckham and Gerrard.

Mario Mandzukic was Croatia's match-winner, swivelling to power home the decisive goal in the 109th minute.

With England 1-0 up at half-time, courtesy of a Kieran Trippier cracker-jack free, some were not having Keane's pragmatic half-time suggestion that England were not home and hosed.

The momentum of the game had changed and when Perisic equalised for Croatia in the 68th minute it was no real surprise.

Croatia will be especially wary not to give Trippier too much leeway to fire in unsafe crosses from the right flank. Walker attempted to clear diving header but Perisic jumped and from behind raised his left boot over Walker's head to poke the ball past goalkeeper Jordan Pickford from about 8 yards.

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Mandzukic scored after Walker stuck out a leg to block Josip Pivaric's cross.

Mandzukic alertly reacted to the unexpected ball in the penalty area, splitting defenders John Stones and Harry Maguire, who had taken four short steps up.

Croatia's best chance of the half came in the 31st minute when Modric squared back to Rebic inside the box but his left foot shot was saved by Pickford.

Mandzukic was mobbed by teammates, who jumped on him in the corner and trapped photographers under them in the crush.

Trippier scored with England's first shot of the game, curling the direct free kick over the wall and into the top-right of the goal. Dejan Lovren and Danijel Subasic are both injury doubts but are expected to recover in time to feature.

England played six games on that occasion, the same as Southgate's men who still have the third-place play-off to add to their tally.

After all, it was the first time England had been in the World Cup semifinals since 1990. Choruses of "God Save the Queen" began in England's end.

"It's a bit slow at the moment", said Paul Turner from Manchester, sporting a red England jersey in central Moscow.

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