Moscow, England’s bid to reach a first World
Cup final since 1966 came to an agonising end as they lost in extra
time to Croatia in Moscow.
Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic scored the winning goal in the
109th minute of the semi-final, slotting in from Ivan Perisic’s flick-on
into the area.
England – in their first World Cup semi-final since they were
beaten on penalties by West Germany at Italia ’90 – were given the
perfect start through Kieran Trippier’s 20-yard free-kick after only five
minutes, but Perisic’s 68th-minute equaliser sent the match into extra
England’s players were inconsolable at the final whistle as the
dream was snatched away and the pain was etched on their faces, as
well as that of manager Gareth Southgate – but they can take great
pride and credit from this tournament.
Croatia, in sharp contrast, were jubilant and will now face France
in the final in Moscow on Sunday.
Unfancied before the competition, England defied
expectations by reaching the semi-finals, but were undone by an
experienced Croatia side.
Harry Kane’s golden touch deserted him when he missed a
great chance to double their lead, and Jesse Lingard also wasted a
chance by shooting wide.
As England allowed their opportunity to slip from their grasp,
Croatia grew in confidence.
England lost momentum after the break and were punished
when Perisic stole in ahead of Kyle Walker for an athletic finish.
Croatia, with Luka Modric the orchestrator, took control as
England faded, with Perisic hitting the post and Jordan Pickford saving
magnificently from Mandzukic, before the striker made the decisive
contribution with 11 minutes of extra time left.
The 32-year-old reacted quicker than John Stones in the area to
beat Pickford – and England had nothing left to give.
England will now play Belgium in Saturday’s third/fourth place
play-off in St Petersburg, the BBC reported.
Source: Oman News Agency