Croatia reach World Cup final as England pain goes on

Esequiel Farfan
Julio 12, 2018

An Agence France-Presse photographer was sent tumbling as he was caught in the cross-fire of the celebrations deep into extra-time. Croatia controlled the ball in the middle, and the experience showed, as it out-shot England 22-11 and completed over 100 passes more in the match.

"Until they scored [the equaliser] we were always under cosh", Kane said. "I think we've built a house here now on good foundations", he said.

"There's a lot we could have done better".

The victory is historic for Croatia, the second smallest nation to make the World Cup final after Uruguay, but it's no fluke.

Trippier gave England a dream start, curling in a free-kick from 25 yards past the despairing dive of Danijel Subasic after Dele Alli was brought down in a central position.

Its previous two games went to extra time and then emotionally draining penalty shootouts.

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In beating Gareth Southgate's young team, Croatia - taken to extra-time for a third consecutive match - have surpassed the achievements of the heroes of 1998, who reached the semifinals in France. There will be legitimate questions about how much they have left in the tank.

Croatia started the find their range as the second half wore on and Perisic levelled for Croatia in the 68th minute, nipping ahead of Kyle Walker to steer home Sime Vrsaljko's cross past a diving Jordan Pickford.

As well as scoring, Perisic also hit the post for the second straight game and set up Mandzukic's victor, heading a poor clearance toward the Juventus striker to score.

Croatia's centre-backs Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida just could not cope with him as he darted from right to left and back again down their respective channels and towards goal in the opening 45 minutes.

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric also pulled the strings cleverly in midfield and when the disappointment fades for England they might take consolation from the fact they were beaten by a technically gifted side. With England unable to clear the ball away from its goal, Perisic went airborne and flicked a backwards header toward his suddenly open teammate, forward Mario Mandzukic. I can't tell you how proud I am to share the dressing room with these players. The Croatians and their fans will all be back on Sunday for the final, their first ever. Yet what Sterling has lacked at this World Cup in goals, he has made up for with his sheer work-rate and intelligent movement in attacking areas of the pitch.

England captain Harry Kane says he believes his side "restored pride in the shirt" after the team's gallant march to the World Cup semi-final, which ended in a 2-1 defeat to Croatia at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

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