Croatian Saultites celebrate World Cup victory


Today, England and Croatia will do battle for the right to face the Frenchmen on Sunday in the last game of the tournament.

"It's brought everyone together at a time when they needed it", said teacher Louise Smith, 34, as she celebrated the game in Hyde Park with friends.

Not even a dramatic late spot-kick failure in the last 16 against Denmark could derail Modric's superb tournament, the Real Madrid man a strong contender for the Golden Ball at Russian Federation 2018.

Speaking to ITV, former Croatia manager Slaven Bilic said winning the World Cup would be the greatest sporting achievement in the country's history, which he now rates as a third-placed finish at France 1998. "I'm glad it didn't go to penalty shootouts".

"It's fantastic, we're so excited", said Christopher Tomas, owner of the Croatian Corner deli, of Croatia's win.

After finishing second to Argentina in Group H following victories over Jamaica and Japan, World Cup debutants Croatia claimed some impressive scalps on their way to the semi-finals.

Across the city, the Grove Pub and Restaurant on Stafford Street was at capacity with hopeful England fans. The two youngest teams in the World Cup, destined to meet in the final after a parade of greater soccer nations with veteran stars had gone home.

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Two men's quarter-finals were still in progress on the main show courts as the Three Lions took on Croatia in their Moscow semi-final.

Instead, the loss left some in tears.

The Hyde Park screening was the largest of its kind for an England game since 1996, when the country hosted the European Championship and the team made the semi-finals. This shows character and is what makes me proud.

Peter Corcoran watched on the edge of his seat, alongside his family and friends. But we have to kill games earlier.

"There's an bad lot of people with their heads down but they should have their heads up".

England coach Gareth Southgate missed a penalty kick in the semifinals of that tournament in 1996 and said he couldn't listen to the song for 20 years. France beat Brazil 3-0 in the 1998 final with two goals from Zinedine Zidane and one from Emmanuel Petit.

Sunday's World Cup final begins at 10 a.m. CT. First, his team needs to get past France on Tuesday to earn a spot in the final for the first time.

But Croatia still lacks a major national team title, and this World Cup is seen as the last chance for this golden generation which apart from Modric includes Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic (33), Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic (32) and Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic (30). "Everyone was nervous, but when they got a second goal, everyone took so much confidence, everyone was up in the air, the club was full, there was a great atmostphere".