Sports

England's first World Cup semi-final since 1990 attracts few fans

England's first World Cup semi-final since 1990 attracts few fans

Croatia have reached their first FIFA World CupFinal, coming from behind to defeat England 2-1 after extra time at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow - with Mario Mandzukic's extra time goal the decisive strike.

Kieran Trippier has been likened to David Beckham for his quality in dead-ball situations and he showed why, bending a free-kick over the defensive wall to give England a very early lead with his first worldwide goal. Ivan Perisic tied the score in the 68th minute.

Other than Kane, England's goals this time around have come from John Stones, with a surprise brace against Panama, Jesse Lingard in the same game, Maguire, Alli and Trippier. They beat Denmark and Russian Federation in penalty shootouts.

Croatia's form improved as the half drew on, but after more failed attempts on goal, the teams went into half-time 1-0 to England.

England manager Gareth Southgate is expected to name the same XI against Croatia as he did in the victories over Colombia and Sweden which saw them reach the final four.

"It's tough, we're gutted", he said.

Lovren has improved greatly since that October debacle, playing a huge role in Liverpool's incredible Champions League campaign and Croatia's astonishing run thus far.

While familiar faces in the world of football shared their immediate thoughts, Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton declared himself "inspired" by the team's effort.

Mandzukic helps out Zlatko Dalic-coached Croatia as their first defender and they will need his tireless running and his aerial positioning to beat an English team which relies a lot on set-pieces and attacking football.

Harry Kane shot weakly at Danijel Subasic and forced the rebound against a post while Raheem Sterling was a constant thorn in the Croatia defense.

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England continued to look strong at the start of the second half and Kane almost got on the end of a terrific cross on the volley by Trippier.

It's the third consecutive game the Croatians have taken a game to extra time.

England paid the price for those early misses when Perisic showed great determination to get in front of Kyle Walker to meet a curling Sime Vrsaljko cross and though his boot was arguably high, Walker was stooping and there were few complaints.

Mario Mandzukic wheels away after scoring the winning goal in Wednesday's semifinal between Croatia and England.

But it was Croatia who struck in the 109th minute when Perisic won a header on the edge of the box and the ball dropped for Mandzukic whose firm low finish beat Pickford.

"This is a miracle".

"They'll be the best team we've played in terms of what they're capable of doing with the ball, and what their individuals are capable of, definitely", Southgate said ahead of the game on Wednesday, as quoted on Sky Sports.

"We were like lions out there tonight and we will be the same in the final".

"The boys have worked hard enough to get to this point now go have fun and bring it home..."


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