Heartbreak for England as World Cup dream is over

Jose Verdugo
Julio 12, 2018

Kieran Trippier's goal was the earliest in a World Cup semi-final since 1958.

France beat Brazil to lift their first World Cup while Croatia had to settle for third place after goals from Suker and Prosinecki gave them a 2-1 win over Netherlands in the third place playoff match.

Vrsaljko cleared a John Stones header away from in front of the line, but England had Pickford to thank for a brilliant save as Mandzukic connected with a devilish Perisic cross. After continually increasing the pressure on the Three Lions, Sime Vrsaljko's pinpoint cross was met by Ivan Perisic, who snuck in to level from close range.

Kieran Trippier has been likened to David Beckham for his quality in dead-ball situations and he showed why, bending a free-kick over the defensive wall to give England a very early lead with his first global goal.

Having looked so comfortable earlier, England's young side were rattled, and they were lucky not to go behind soon after as Perisic sent a low shot across Jordan Pickford and off the far post.

Croatia edged back into the game near the end of the first half and defender Dejan Lovren felt he should have had a penalty on the stroke of half time.

And yet, that's where England ultimately lost the game and missed their chance to make a first World Cup final since 1966.

In front of more than 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium, Bobby Charlton put them ahead with a rebound shot from a clearance in the first half and added another after the break to go 2-0 up against Portugal, led by 1965 Ballon d'Or victor Eusebio.

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England last won the World Cup in 1996.

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.

Shortly after that, Ivan Perisic nipped in ahead of Walker to guide home Croatia's equaliser off the studs of his left boot. You take it one game at a time.

Although they saw more of the ball, Dalic's side initially struggled to offer a significant improvement after half-time and England had a penalty shout turned down just after the hour - Domagoj Vida getting a slight touch on the ball before sending Sterling tumbling.

They beat Tunisia in their tournament opener thanks to a late Harry Kane goal, brushed aside a poor Panama, edged out Colombia on penalties and easily beat Sweden in the quarter-finals.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković at the World Cup semifinal match in Moscow on 11 July, 2018.

Trippier's free-kick was not only his maiden England goal but was his first goal of any kind since he scored for Tottenham against Watford on February 6, 2016 - 886 days ago. They gifted England a huge amount of space in midfield and allowed wing-backs Ashley Young and Trippier to push forward and provide options.

Croatia's legs at the start seemed to carry the weight of so many minutes in the knockout stage, and a pressing England went up quickly.

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