Day 23 Summary: Football not ready to go home
So England are out, England’s run to the semi-finals has been the best story of this World Cup but it ended last night in Moscow when Mario Mandzukic’s extra time goal sent Croatia to their first World Cup Final.
The game at the Luzniki Stadium started wonderfully for England, their high press pushed Croatia back and after just 4 minutes Croatia conceded a free kick on the edge of their box and Kieran Trippier hit a dipping shot to leave Daniejl Subasic grasping thin air and put England 1-0 up.
England dominated the first half with Harry Kane put through but his shot was saved whilst Raheem Sterling appeared better placed to score, Subasic saved and Kane could only direct the rebound onto the post. Then Jesse Lingard recieved the ball on the edge of the box but could only direct his shot wide, England entered the break on top but cruically only one goal ahead.
The start of the second half was fractured with Croatia pushing further up the pitch with England struggling to get their passing game going and Luka Modric slowly started ti dictate play. On 68 minutes Simon Vrsaljko crossed and Ivan Perisic got in front of Kyle Walker to push home for 1-1. Croatia were now on top and Perisic got free but his angled shot hit the post and fell to Ante Rebic who shot straight at Jordan Pickford, Croatia were on top but couldn’t find a goal and the game headed into extra time.
England enjoyed the better of the first period with substitute Danny Rose making inroads down the left and John Stones denied by a goalline clearance. But at the start of the second Croatia struck: Perisic brought down a high ball and Mandzukic stole a yard on John Stones to push home for 2-1. England pushed but lost their way and even their famed set pieces couldn’t save them and Croatia were in the final. Football’s home coming will have to wait for another 4 years.