Tuesday, 17 July, 2018

Croatia tops England in extra time to reach World Cup final

Richard Buxton: Croatia coach Dalic could regret his comments England vs. Croatia: Southgate Urges Team To Create History
Rita Gibson | 12 July, 2018, 03:19

Croatia, with one of the smallest population in this tournament at 4.171 million, is off to the World Cup final for the first time in team history.

Subs: Josip Pivaric (for Strinic, 95) 6, Andrej Kramaric (for Rebic, 101) 5, Vedran Corluka (for Mandzukic, 115) 5, Milan Badelj (for Modric, 119, ) 5.

England are dreaming of a first World Cup final since 1966 but first they must come through Wednesday's semi-final at the Luzhniki Stadium against Croatia in what looks like their toughest test yet in Russian Federation.

While Croats are in the semi-finals on the back of two knockout victories over Denmark and Russian Federation via penalty shootouts, England got past Colombia and Sweden in the last two elimination matches.

He said: "They'll be the best team we've played in terms of what they're capable of doing with the ball, and what their individuals are capable of, definitely". They're a likable group with a likable manager, and they can really play.

Tense moments followed for the 12th man as Croatia tried to pile the pressure on and fans had their hearts in their mouths when the score was only kept level by some desperate England defending.

Although they saw more of the ball, Dalic's side initially struggled to offer a significant improvement after half-time and England had a penalty shout turned down just after the hour - Domagoj Vida getting a slight touch on the ball before sending Sterling tumbling. The challenge of stopping the best midfielder on the planet in a World Cup semi-final. Dejan Lovren and Danijel Subasic are both injury doubts but are expected to recover in time to feature.

Croatian president flies economy class to Russian Federation to cheer World Cup team
Croatia will now face England on Wednesday evening at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow with a place in the World Cup final at stake. Kane has scored six goals so far, and is two goals clear in the race for the Golden Boot award.

Now the Croatia center-back is eager to make amends.

24' - Raheem Sterling has been an absolute handful for the Croatian defense. Mandzukic will lead Croatia's attack.

"We wasn't talking about the final, we were just having a laugh with you". Surely Harry Kane, the tourney leader with six goals, or another instant hero would convert the one chance they needed.

Although Croatia are the most hard opponents England will have faced in the tournament, Southgate's words suggest he will continue with his attacking formation and personnel. Not after they conquered their shootout demons against Colombia in the Round of 16, and not after Southgate and his staff went to great lengths to ensure his players would embrace the tiebreaker if England got the opportunity to change its luck.

Kieran Trippier has been likened to David Beckham for his quality in dead-ball situations and he showed why, bending a free-kick over the defensive wall to give England a very early lead with his first global goal.

Before this game, Jordan Henderson hadn't been on the losing side in any of his last 30 England matches (W23 D7), the longest unbeaten run of any England player in history. Mandzukic is a nightmare to play against, as Harry Maguire, John Stones and Kyle Walker found out.

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