Croatia beats England 2-1 in extra time

Croatia beats England 2-1 in extra time

"We are deservedly in the final", Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said. Croatia started to enjoy their best period of the match, dictating play and controlling possession.

One team had yet to compete in a World Cup final, the other had last won it all way back in 1966, and hadn't made it to the semifinals in close to three decades.

Defender Vrsaljko was also instrumental, clearing a shot off the line in the first half of extra time as well as setting up Perisic's equaliser.

Although England as a unit look to be mentally stronger, Croatia have been quite physical and a few missed chances, particularly from Kane, who looks a little out of sorts, could come back to haunt them as the game goes on. "I have to dream big", he said ahead of the game at the Luzhniki Stadium.

England are out of the World Cup. It's great for them that they've got some enjoyable experiences now playing for England.

Although Croatia are the most hard opponent England will have faced in the tournament, Southgate's words suggest he will continue with his attacking formation and personnel.

While Croatia possess arguably the best central midfield pairing in the tournament in the shape of Real Madrid's Luka Modric and Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic, Southgate's language does not indicate he is about to bring in Eric Dier as an additional defensive midfielder alongside Jordan Henderson.

Against Denmark and Russian Federation in the earlier rounds, Croatia were also forced to go through the ordeal of penalties before advancing, but the fact remains that they will face France having played 90 minutes more than Didier Deschamps' team due to their accumulated extra-time workload.

Subs: Josip Pivaric (for Strinic, 95) 6, Andrej Kramaric (for Rebic, 101) 5, Vedran Corluka (for Mandzukic, 115) 5, Milan Badelj (for Modric, 119, ) 5. Mandzukic will lead Croatia's attack.

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Croatia heads into this game on the back of penalty shootout wins over Denmark and Russian Federation in the last-16 and quarter-final stages.

Croatia have an experienced squad and will go into the match with the belief of going the distance.

"I was in Nice to watch us lose too Iceland, I was in Kiev to lose against Italy".

But Southgate thinks talk of that handing a physical advantage to England is being overplayed.

Harry Kane is the leading goal-scorer in the tournament with six goals to his name and like his tally, most of England's goals have come from corners and crosses from the wings.

Keane was also critical of England skipper Harry Kane, as he suggested the Spurs striker looked off the pace as he laboured through most of the second half and extra time.

The break refreshed the Croatians and they started the second half with greater energy and goal and, at that stage, Southgate missed the chance to make the change that would enable England to regain control of midfield.

But he is yet to fully convince and win the trust of everyone, and is still susceptible to occasional errors, highlighted by his stray pass that allowed Russian Federation a chance to go clear on goal in the closing minutes of the quarter-final.

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