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Courageous Croatia Break English Hearts To Reach World Cup Final

Croatia
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JULY 11: Croatia players celebrate following their sides victory in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Semi Final match between England and Croatia at Luzhniki Stadium on July 11, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

An extra-time goal from Mario Mandzukic gave Croatia a 2-1 win over England to take them to the 2018 World Cup final against France on Sunday.

Gareth Southgate’s side – playing England’s first semi-final since they were beaten on penalties by West Germany at Italia 90 and Kieran Trippier gave them the lead with a free-kick curled over the wall and into the top corner after just five minutes. A dream start for the Three Lions.

Harry Kane’s golden touch deserted him when he missed a great chance to double their lead while Jesse Lingard also wasted a chance by shooting wide.

As England allowed their opportunity to slip from their grasp, Croatia grew in confidence.

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England lost momentum after the break and were punished when Perisic stole in ahead of Kyle Walker for an athletic finish from a perfectly weighted Šime Vrsaljko cross.

Croatia, with Luka Modric the orchestrator, had taken control as England faded, Perisic hitting the post and Jordan Pickford saving magnificently from Mandzukic, before the winger made the decisive contribution with 11 minutes of extra time left.

The 32-year-old reacted quicker than John Stones in the area to beat Pickford – and England had nothing left to give.

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Heartbreak once again for England, who will now play Belgium in Saturday’s third place play-off in St Petersburg. Croatia, a nation of little more than four million will be huge underdogs going into the final, but who knows what may happen after the shocks and upsets that this world cup has provided.

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