Croatia beat England in extra time to reach World Cup final
July 12, 2018 02:25 am
Croatia have crushed England’s World Cup dream with a 2-1 extra-time victory in their semi-final at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
England made a dream start with Kieran Trippier’s fifth-minute free-kick securing a 1-0 lead. But Croatia came out stronger in the second half and Ivan Perisic levelled in the 67th minute.
The teams traded blows for the rest of the 90 minutes but were forced into extra time locked at 1-1. After a tense first period Mario Mandzukic then broke England hearts in the 109th minute.
Croatia’s opponents in Moscow on Sunday will be France, who progressed to the final with a 1-0 win against Belgium in their semi-final at the St Petersburg Stadium on Tuesday.
Gareth Southgate kept faith with the same side which has taken England to the semi-finals, naming an unchanged starting XI.
Three minutes had gone when England won a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Kyle Walker’s long ball pushed England upfield, with Jesse Lingard’s quick feet helping to free Dele Alli, who was bundled over by Luka Modric.
Trippier stood over the ball and bent his delivery beyond the wall and into the net. It was his first goal for England, and the team’s ninth from a set piece in the tournament.
Croatia were building pressure and they levelled in the 67th minute. Vrsaljko hung a cross in from the right and Perisic volleyed, leaving Pickford groping at air and England complaining without success about high feet.
England were rattled and almost coughed up a second a few minutes later. A bouncing ball was mis-read by all three defenders and Perisic took advantage, pulling left and slamming a low shot against the far post. Rebic attempted to turn home the rebound but Pickford gathered.
The teams were forced into extra time locked at 1-1. England then slipped behind for the first time in the match. Perisic beat Trippier to a loose ball, flicking a backwards header into the box. Mandzukic was onside, stealing a march on the defenders and rifling low past Pickford.