Croatia beats England to qualify for their first World Cup final

Croatia beats England to qualify for their first World Cup final

Manager Gareth Southgate said England "left everything out there" after falling to an extra-time defeat by Croatia in the World Cup semi-final on Wednesday. The sound was eclipsed only by the joy that greeted Mario Mandzukic's extra-time victor and the impromptu fireworks celebration in the wake of the final whistle. But we've learned from all of the things over the last couple of years and that's a cruel lesson. It's a young team, the majority of the players will play in the next World Cup with more experience at club level. That is some way to open your account in the tournament! He joins David Beckham as the only English players to score directly from a free kick in a world cup knock out game.

The referee called Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard back as they tried to go uncontested towards goal.

"We've proved everything different than what people were talking", he told ITV.

With Croatia playing in its third consecutive extra time match, the team somehow dug deep and found the energy needed to fight off the Three Lions, who looked more exhausted and fell asleep on the winning goal.

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. England are happy so sit back and defend.

The English generally defended well but on the two occasions they lost awareness of the movement and positioning of the Croatian attackers, they got punished.

Perisic should have added another three minutes later when ragged defending presented him with a great shooting chance but he cannoned the ball against a post.

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"I can't ask any more of them than what the players and staff have given".

In the end, the Croats did more to win.

"The team improved a lot in relation to previous appearances".

Kieran Trippier's opening goal gave England a glamour of hope which didn't materialize into reality. Belgium will play England in the third place play-off a day before the final.

"The more of these tests we can come through, the better, not just for now, but moving forward". Note that England scored 9 of their 12 goals from set-pieces.

Indeed, after getting to the tournament's final four, after reversing a terrible penalty shootout history, in its round-of-16 win over Colombia, there's a sense of optimism in England about this young, talented and appealing team.

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