Croatia reach World Cup final as England pain goes on


Croatia came from a goal down to end the Three Lions' World Cup dream and reach the final for the first time in their history thanks to a winning strike from Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic.

As the match progressed, goals from Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic got the Mediterranean nation over the line, and Modric took the opportunity after that match to have his say about the English media.

Gareth Southgate consistently downplayed the euphoria in his team in the build-up, and for a while England gave every indication they were going to take charge of their own destiny, as Trippier found the net with a delightful free-kick in the fifth minute.

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

The script that said Croatia was exhausted and England would take advantage, seemed to play out early.

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Trippier's curling fifth-minute free-kick was his first global goal, a prominent example of the quality of his delivery that has given rise to the "Bury Beckham" moniker because he was born in Bury near Manchester. However, they grew in confidence following Perisic's equaliser and it was England who began to look increasingly tired.

It was a different game from then on, with Croatia suddenly playing with accuracy and objective as England lost their shape and composure, though Kane missed a chance to win it in stoppage time when he headed wide from a free kick. But Ivan Perisic equalized in the 68th after getting his foot to ball before England defender Kyle Walker could head it away. Despite the disappointment for England, The Times's expert panel was not short of some trenchant views on the country's most important night for 28 years - or to be precise 10,234 days.

As the extra period started Croatia struggled to maintain their intense pressure but continued to threaten the England defense. Dead-ball situations once again played their part but were not the deciding factor for England and ultimately the "Love Train", as Glenn Hoddle has labelled it, was derailed. "It hurts a lot, [and will hurt] for a while". "We have had a fantastic journey, further than we thought", he added. "We worked so hard, the fans were unbelievable, it was a tough game, a 50-50 game, when we look back we will think there's stuff we could have done better".

"It's not something I'm really thinking about at the moment to be honest, it's not the game we wanted to be in", Kane admitted. They should have won this game.