Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia
Croatia will face France in their first World Cup final after coming from behind to dash England’s dreams with a 2-1 extra-time victory at the Luzhniki Stadium.
Mario Mandzukic scored the goal that broke English hearts on 109 minutes as Croatia emulated their heroes of 1998 by securing their place in football’s greatest game for the very first time. It all started so promisingly or England who took the lead through Kieran Trippier’s wonderful fifth-minute free-kick but Ivan Perisic forced extra-time with Croatia’s equaliser on 68 minutes. Juventus striker Mandzukic then capitalised on a brief lapse in the English defence to put Croatia ahead for the first time, and there was no way back for Gareth Southgate’s tiring side. The defeat ends England’s hopes of a first world title since 1966, but they have the chance to salvage bronze in Saturday’s third-place play-off against Belgium. Croatia bossed the stats with 55% possession and had 22 shot, hitting 7 on target. As for England, after Trippier’s goal, they were only able to hit 1 shot more on target out of their total 11 shots.
5: GOALLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!! TRIPPIER SCORES A STUNNER!!! ENGLAND 1-0!!!! Trippier converts from the free-kick to hand England a dream start to the contest. The full-back lined up his effort from 20 yards and curled his strike over the wall. Subasic attempted to get across, but the strike was well placed to travel beyond the keeper into the top corner. A super strike to hand the Three Lions the lead.
15: WIDE! Trippier floats the ball into the box and Maguire rises to head at goal. He makes decent contact with his header, sending his effort narrowly past the post.
29: CHANCE! Kane has an excellent chance to double England’s advantage, only to be denied by Subasic. He goes for the follow-up from a tight angle, but he smashes his effort off the post. If England wanted that chance to fall to one man – it was Kane.
31: SAVE! Croatia provide pressure down the right flank as Rebic sends a dangerous delivery into the box. Stones makes a fine clearance, only to send it back to Rebic. He goes for the strike, but Pickford is there to make the save.
64: BLOCK! England are reeling at the back as Modric whips a cross into the box. It’s cleared as far as Perisic on the edge and he goes for the blast. His effort looks to be heading towards the net, only for Walker to put his body on the line for the Three Lions to make the block.
68: GOALLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!! PERISIC EQUALISES FOR CROATIA!!!!! 1-1!!!! Perisic gets in front of Walker at the cross and he guides his strike beyond the reach of Pickford into the bottom corner. Vrsaljko was afforded space and time on the right flank and he whipped the ball into the box. Perisic made a late run before he stuck his foot out ahead of Walker to steer his effort into bottom corner.
74: Sterling is withdrawn for Rashford to provide impetus.
96: Rebic brings down Rose on the charge and he goes into the book.
97: Dier replaces the tiring Henderson for England in the midfield.
101: Kramaric replaces Rebic for Croatia in attack.
109: GOALLLLLLLLLLLL!!!! MANDZUKIC FIRES HOME!!!! 2-1!!!! Croatia take the lead as England fall asleep at the back. A simple header allows Mandzukick to drift in behind Stones before he slots his strike beyond the reach of Pickford. Croatia are closing in on a place in the final.
112: Walker makes way for Vardy as England reach desperation stakes.
119: Modric makes way for Badelj.
Ivan Perisic (***): Ivan Perisic was probably Croatia’s most dangerous attacking threat and scored when his team really needed a goal.
Dele Alli (**): Dele Alli caused Croatia problems by popping up in dangerous positions but ran out of steam towards the end of normal time.
Player Ratings (***- Exceeded Expectation, ** – Met Expectation, * – Didn’t meet the expectation):
Outstanding Player: Kieran Trippier
Few would have had Trippier down as first goalscorer. The Tottenham full-back had not scored since February 2016 and never in an England shirt. But Trippier needed only five minutes to become the third Englishman to score in a World Cup semi-final, following in the illustrious footsteps of Sir Bobby Charlton and Gary Lineker.
Croatia: Croatia pressed England and were effective as England were unable to play passes in their half and that made captain Harry Kane into midfield but that only made matters more complicated.
England: After Kieran Trippier’s free-kick goal, England rarely looked threatening and they were unable to finish their chances off.
Viewer Rating: **
Mario Mandzukic’s strike in the second half of extra-time allows Croatia to advance to the World Cup final for the first time in their history. It was a close contest, but Zlatko Dalic’s men displayed the clinical edge in the final third to secure their final berth where they will take on France.
Match Implication: CROATIA ADVANCE TO THE WORLD CUP FINAL. Croatia will remain in Moscow for Sunday’s World Cup final against France while England travel to Saint Petersburg for Saturday’s third-place play-off against Belgium.
Until then however, thank you for joining us – and have a good day!