Mario Mandzukic's extra-time winner sees England miss out on their first World Cup final since 1966
England missed out on their first World Cup final since 1966 after losing a gruelling semi-final match to Croatia 2-1 after extra-time.
Mario Mandzukic’s assured finish ten minutes from the end of the game was the decisive goal after Ivan Perisic had cancelled out Kieran Trippier’s early free-kick.
Gareth Southgate’s men could have been forgiven for feeling a bit nervous ahead of England’s biggest game in 28 years, but they got off to a great start.
And they took the lead after just five minutes when Trippier picked the perfect time to score his first international goal when he brilliantly curled a free-kick from the edge of the box beyond the reach of Danijel Subasic.
Harry Kane then missed a wonderful chance to make it 2-0 but could not find the net at two times of trying. However, the top scorer of the tournament was flagged offside.
On 35 minutes, Jesse Lingard curled a shot just wide after some good work by Dele Alli as England went into half-time a goal to the good.
Croatia improved after the game and got themselves on level terms when Perisic turned in Sime Vrsaljko’s searching cross midway through the second-half.
And the game was nearly turned on its head on 71 minutes when Perisic latched onto Stones’ poor clearance. The winger struck the post and Ante Rebic could only hit the rebound straight at Jordan Pickford.
England were on the ropes and nearly fell behind with efforts from Mario Mandzukic and Perisic as the game went into extra-time.
Stones nearly regained the Three Lions’ lead but his header was cleared off the line by Vrsaljko.
At the other end, Pickford brilliantly denied Mandzukic a certain goal with a point-blank save after the striker got on the end of Perisic’s menacing cross from the left.
But Mandzukic did get his goal when a hopeful Perisic header found its way to the frontman who made no mistake from six yards out to bring England’s World Cup campaign to an end.
Croatia: Subasic, Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic (Pivaric 94), Rakitic, Brozovic, Rebic (Kramaric 101), Modric (Badelj 118), Perisic, Mandzukic (Corluka 115)
Subs not used: Livakovic, Corluka, Kovacic, Jedvaj, Bradaric, Caleta-Car, Pjaca, L. Kalinic
England: Pickford, Walker (Vardy 112), Stones, Maguire, Trippier, Alli, Henderson (Dier 97), Lingard, Young (Rose 90), Sterling (Rashford 74), Kane
Subs not used: Butland, Welbeck, Cahill, Jones, Delph, Loftus-Cheek, Alexander-Arnold, Pope
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