Croatia defeat England to reach World Cup final
GB news 24 desk//
Croatia will take on France in the World Cup final — their first ever appearance in one — after beating England 2-1 in extra time in Moscow thanks to a Mario Mandzukic goal.
England enjoyed a lot of possession in the early exchanges and stunned Croatia with a goal inside five minutes. A lovely touch from Jesse Lingard set up Dele Alli, who was fouled by Luka Modric just outside the box in a central position. Kieran Trippier stepped up and curled a glorious effort into the top corner to net his first international goal.
With England on the front foot, Raheem Sterling almost latched onto a pass from Jordan Henderson but Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic raced out to claim the ball. The Manchester City winger’s pace was being targeted on the counter and Sime Vrsaljko was lucky to intercept a long ball with nobody else near them.
England’s prowess from set pieces almost came to the fore again as Harry Macguire met a corner but headed just wide of the post.
Croatia regained their composure and began to put a string of passes together. Ivan Perisic’s long range shot whistled past the post after taking a deflection off the heel of Kyle Walker and Ante Rebic found some space but saw his effort brilliantly blocked by a diving John Stones.
England were nearly behind inside a few minutes. A nervous miskick from Walker fell at the feet of Perisic, who beat his man and hammered a low shot off the bottom of the post. The defence then lost track of things from a shot corner and another fine cross from Vrsaljko almost saw Rebic get his head on the ball.
Gareth Southgate brought on teenager Marcus Rashford for Sterling and his first contribution was to put in a lovely cross which was cleared at the back post.
Inside the final 15 minutes, Croatia continued to dominate and Walker did well to stop Perisic from reaching Modric’s cross. Lingard managed to get in behind the defence, but there were no England teammates to get on the end of his shot as it fizzed across the box.
Trippier, Walker and Pickford put England hearts in mouths with a dangerous exchange at the back and Mandzukic’s shot was well saved. Pickford was then muscled out of a high ball and his punch fell at the feet of Perisic, who lobbed it over the bar.
Trippier swung in a late free kick but Kane was unable to direct it on target and minutes later the match moved into extra time.
Danny Rose came on for Young but, despite having played extra time and penalties in both knockout games, Croatia did not make a change of their own until Strinic was injured and Josip Pivaric came on. Jordan Henderson made way for Eric Dier as England tried to make the most of fresh legs.
In the second period of extra time, England fell asleep from a corner and were lucky to see Marcelo Brozovic’s shot fly over. Seconds later, Mandzukic struck. A header was not cleared and the striker ran in behind the defence to slot past Pickford.
Southgate brought on Jamie Vardy for Walker in his last throw of the dice. Perisic was unable to connect on a shot inside the box and Mandzukic limped off with cramp to be replaced by Vedran Corluka. Trippier also had to hobble off with a groin injury, meaning England went down to 10 men as they had used all their subs.
Pickford spilled a shot, but gathered it before Domagoj Vida could get there. And Croatia made their final change as Modric came off for Milan Badelj with two minutes left on the clock.
Kramaric broke free but failed to spot a teammate in open space in the box and blasted his shot into the side netting. Minutes later, the whistle went. Croatia were through into their first World Cup final; England going home.