Heartbreak As England Crash Out In The Semi-Finals After Croatia Defeat
England’s World Cup journey came to a heart-breaking end last night as the side suffered a devastating 2-1 defeat to Croatia.
Optimism was high before the match, with 10,000 England fans inside the stadium in Moscow, and millions upon millions watching on tender hooks at home. The game got off to the best possible start when Kieran Trippier scored a wonderful freekick after just five minutes to give England an early lead.
From here the Three Lions began to dominate possession and had the better of the chances with Harry Kane forcing a clever save out of Danijel Subasic before hitting the post with the follow up. England went into the break with a narrow 1-0 lead, but things did not remain quite as plain sailing.
Croatia upped their game in the second half and began creating more and more chances fell their way, it was inevitable they would take one of them, and they did when Ivan Perisic got his foot on the end of a cross and into the back of the net to draw the side level.
Even England’s star man Harry Kane was unable to rescue the Three Lions and his header from a freekick went agonisingly wide. As the game went into extra time it was clear that England were tiring, and Croatia seemed to find a second wind, the first half passed by uneventful but then in the second period of extra time Mario Mandzukic found some space in the box and guided the ball past Jordan Pickford for what was the winning goal.
Try as they might, the remaining ten minutes for England did not produce any heroic moments and the match finished with a 2-1 victory for the Croatians.
Despite the tears, dejection and sadness that has followed England’s defeat, there is no denying that this World Cup has been a success for England. The first time they had made it to the semi-finals since 1990, 2018 has also restored faith, belief and passion in the national team, things that have been lacking for the last decade after multiple disappointments.
Whether it was Harry Kane scoring the goals, Harry Maguire acting like a wall in defence or the sheer tenacity of Jordan Henderson in midfield, every player had a role to play. Plaudits will also deservedly go the way of manager Gareth Southgate who has played a crucial role in lifting the spirits of both the team and the country by creating a positive atmosphere around the team.
England still have one more game to play in Russia, although they may wish they can just jet home immediately. For the second time in this tournament they will face Belgium, this time in the third-place playoff match. Should England win this game they will finish third, making it the best World Cup performance from an England team since 1966.
For Croatia they now go on to face France in Sunday’s final, the first time the team have ever made it to a World Cup final. For a country with a population of just four million, this is a remarkable achievement and the weekend’s final is sure to be a wonderful occasion.
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