Croatia reach World Cup final as England pain goes on

Theo Walcott's hat-trick helped England to a 4-1 revenge win in 2008

After a goalless first 15 minutes of extra-time, and penalties looking like a big possibility, it was Croatia that ended England's dream of World Cup glory when Mario Mandzukic crept it at the far post to fire home what would ultimately be the victor.

Luka Modric's team were taken to extra-time for the third consecutive match in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday but somehow found the energy to overcome England 2-1.

The Three Lions were knocked out at the semi-finals stage by Croatia after Mario Mandzukic's extra-time victor.

Two nations who have been waiting years to put right the bitter memories of World Cup semifinal defeats will face each other on Wednesday in Moscow with the chance to finally go one step further. We haven't said our last word, there is still one more game to go.

Having been knocked out of Euro 2016 by Iceland and failing to win a single match at the 2014 World Cup, optimism was not high heading into Russian Federation.

The script that said Croatia was exhausted and England would take advantage, seemed to play out early.

"Dream, Dream, Dream! Croatia are in the World Cup final", said the Sportske Novosti newspaper, adding that coach Zlatko Dalic "has entered into legend" after bettering the achievement of the 1998 team.

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Sensibly, Southgate says he will wait to see how well his players recover from another gruelling contest before picking a side. England take on Belgium for the third place playoff on Saturday, so don't pack away your England shirts just yet.

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But there haven't been one or two secrets to make it work, it's been common sense. "We can be proud of what we have achieved". It was a match of high expectations, judging from both sides' run-up to the semi-finals and the quality of their players.

It was a different game from then on, with Croatia suddenly playing with accuracy and goal as England lost momentum, though Kane missed a chance to win it in stoppage time when he headed wide from a free kick.

Kieran Trippier's 5th-minute free-kick goal was the first direct free-kick scored in the knock-out stage during the 2018 world cup. "The reaction from the fans at the end shows you everything they've given", he said.

"There was a spell in the second half when they got the goal and their tails were really up and we had to weather the storm and lost our way a little bit".

"We are playing a strong team [France], for sure, with top players".

Despite the disappointment that comes with defeat, the supporters are proud of the team.

Suddenly the massed ranks of red-and-white-clad Croatia fans behind Pickford's goal started to believe and shortly afterwards Perisic hit the post but England somehow clung on to take the game into extra-time. "Get out on the pitch and then talk, that's what we did".

"The more of these tests we can come through, the better, not just for now, but moving forward".

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