Mandzukic sends steely Croatia into first World Cup final

Peter Crouch celebrates after pulling England level

Peter Crouch celebrates after pulling England level

Mario Mandzukic scored the winning goal in the 109th minute and Croatia shocked England 2-1 Wednesday.

England´s midfielder Jordan Henderson (L), England´s coach Gareth Southgate (C) and England´s defender Phil Jones react after losing the Russian Federation 2018 World Cup semi-final match between Croatia and England at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on July 11, 2018.

France will face Croatia in this year's World Cup final on Sunday evening after Zlatko Dalić's men came through a tightly-contested semi-final encounter with England on Wednesday night. Ante Rebic and Ivan Rakitic were closely watched and it prevented them from having a decent effect on the game in the first half. We expect the most hard game of this World Cup.

England paid the price for those misses when Perisic showed great determination to get in front of Kyle Walker to meet a Sime Vrsaljko cross and though his boot was high and he threw an anxious glance at the referee, Walker was stooping and there were few complaints. Some of these big matches, you just have to go through them and live them to know how to react in the right moments in the right way.

Former Manchester City reject Kieran Trippier, who grew up idolising David Beckham, conjured up an act of brilliance reminiscent of the former England captain.

It stayed level at 90 minutes, meaning Croatia faced extra time for the third successive game, having got past Denmark and Russian Federation on penalties.

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The script that said Croatia was exhausted and England would take advantage, seemed to play out early. In the end England managed only 1 shot on goal and just didn't do enough to book a place in the finals.

"The years of hurt will go on - and for all the optimism raised by England's deeds in Russian Federation over the last month, there will be a burning sense of missed opportunity that will take a long time to erase". First of all I'm so proud of this team and staff for giving everything we could over a long period of time together.

We have solidarity and unity and the teams that did not have that are now back home.

With his first global goal, just over a year after his England debut, the 27-year-old Trippier joined David Beckham as the only English players since 1966 to score on free kicks at the World Cup. "We got further than anyone else could thought we would have".

"Mentally strong team", midfielder Ivan Rakatic said.

Croatia's attitude to the game changing radically in the second-half and players who looked like they were afraid began to play for the first time.

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