Croatia into final with 2-1 win over England


Mario Mandzukic's extra-time strike completed a battling turnaround as Croatia beat England 2-1 in Moscow to reach the World Cup final for the first time in their history. "We're really proud in the style that we've played, with the intelligence that we've played, and that we've performed under pressure and dealt with hard situations in games where we've had to wait until the last minute to score, we've had to recover from conceding in last minute, we've been through extra time, penalties".

Croatia, in their first semi since 1998, levelled through Ivan Perisic after 68 minutes and then looked the more unsafe side.

Croatia were stunned, and Ivan Rakitic, usually so accomplished, was especially off his game. The last time they won the tournament was in their home stadium in 1966.

Mario Mandzukic got the victor in injury time to put Croatia, with previously a tournament-best semifinal in 1998 to its name, one game away from winning it all.

"Personally, I don't think I played as well as I should have", Alli told Press Association Sport, following Saturday's win.

Now one of these perennially disappointing teams will be in the final of the FIFA World Cup.

"This has been the topic of discussion the past 20 years", Dalic said.

"But if we're ready to give our all on the pitch like we did when we played Argentina, if we will be compact, then I don't believe that there will be problems".

Kieran Trippier stood over the ball and bent a lovely effort beyond the wall and past Danijel Subasic, giving England a dream start.

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Kevin Trippier curled in a free kick for England in the fifth minute. But Ivan Perisic equalized in the 68th after getting his foot to ball before England defender Kyle Walker could head it away.

Perisic should have added another when given a great shooting chance but he cannoned the ball against a post as England's defence began to lose shape.

"I agree Croatia has several more experienced players", Juventus forward Mandzukic said.

England have been knocked out of the World Cup after a Mario Mandzukic goal in extra-time saw Croatia triumph in an engrossing semi-final in Moscow.

Before this game, Jordan Henderson hadn't been on the losing side in any of his last 30 England matches (W23 D7), the longest unbeaten run of any England player in history.

"This is a miracle".

England too left Italy 28 years ago feeling that the team featuring Gary Lineker and Paul Gascoigne could have gone all the way.

For England, who captured so many hearts with their run to the semifinals, there will be the same disappointment that has haunted them at big tournaments across the world for 52 years. and counting.

While Croatian players, who have been asked constantly about the generation of 1998 and never fail to express their admiration for the likes of Zvonimir Boban and Davor Suker, those comparisons are a weight they feel is unneeded. "We probably needed that second goal [in the first half]". "We do not want to say we are exhausted, because there are still plenty of opportunities to exhaust ourselves".

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