Croatia continue their fairytale journey, and qualify for their first major tournament final. But it is an agonising end for the three lions. who were unable to conquer their recurring demons as they fail by the roadside once more.
The lead up was filled with the notion of the World Cup returning home to England, and Croatia’s physical and mental exertions against Russia and how that might play a part in the proceedings against England at the Moscow stadium.
True to that notion, England roared ahead in just the fifth minute thanks to a sublime Trippier Free kick that left Subotic flat-footed. At the point, It looked like England might as well bring the Cup “home” as Croatia struggled throughout the first half to create anything of note as the defence of Walker, Stones, Young and Trippier stood resolute.
The best chance of the first half fell to Kane who was clear on goal after managing to beat the offyard trap, but could only shoot straight at Subociv even though Sterling was unmarked.
Croatia stepped it up in the second half and proved they were not too tired for the occasion. They kept camp at the English goal and were ultimately rewarded when Perisic attacked a Rakitic cross from the right and diverted the cross beyond Pickford in the English goal. The whole English defence stood still and missed Perisic movement.
From that moment, for the most part, it looked like there was only going to be one winner as Croatia stepped up their assault on the English goal, and the English were too preoccupied with containing the onslaught than they were about starting theirs. But they managed to hold on, and the game went to extra-time.
At the start of the extra-period, England looked the most dangerous, without creating anything, which is the story of their tournament so far. They are kings of the dead ball, and their most dangerous period was through set-pieces. Yet, for all that they got, Croatia managed to comfortably deal with it most of the time.
And they punched hard when they got the chance.
An high ball was floated into the English area and Perisic, who hit the ball in regulation time, managed to steer his header to Mansukic who was free in the box, for the Juventus striker to strike past Pickford in goal.
England poured men forward and lobbed the ball to the frontmen for the remainder of the game, but it was to no avail. They die was cast and all their aces were done.
The World Cup was not going home, England was, metaphorically.
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