England out, Croatia face France in final
Posted: 11 July 2018 Time: 20:50
Croatia made history after booking their first-ever World Cup final appearance with a 2-1 win over England on Wednesday.
Renowned for their successful set-play scenarios in the tournament, England found the breakthrough with a top-drawer free-kick from Kieran Trippier as early as the fifth minute.
Tournament top scorer Harry Kane found the chance to add to his tally of six goals but was unable to beat Danijel Subasic from an acute angle.
Croatia’s first shot on target came after 30 minutes when Ante Rebic attempted to beat Jordan Pickford with a left-foot curler but the keeper was able to save.
In the lead and in control, England pressed for a two-goal lead before the break but a low drive from Jesse Lingard that skewed wide of the right-hand post didn’t corroborate with the script, leaving a single goal cushion at half-time.
Following a slow start to the second half, the game sprung into life as the Croats drew level with a neat flick by Ivan Perisic after a nicely played cross by Sime Vrsjalko on 68 minutes.
England’s resilience was further tested as Perisic picked the ball on the left and before drilling a low strike across goal that cracked that base of the post, with Rebic scuffing on the follow-up to allow Pickford to gather.
A half-chance fell to Kane after the striker met Trippier's free kick, but he was unable to make a proper contact with his header, which bounced wide in added time as the clash eventually ended all square to go into 30 minutes of extra time.
The Three Lions were inches away from regaining the lead minutes in extra time, but Stones' goal-bound header was cleared off the line by a well-palced Vrsjalko.
Croatia made them pay with under 10 minutes to go as Perisic won an aerial battle to set Mario Mandzukic free past a sleeping England defence to blast past a helpless Pickford.
With no threats at Subasic’s goal, Croatia advanced to their first-ever World Cup final and will play France at the same venue on Sunday (17h00), while England can only aim for third place when they take on fellow beaten semi-finalist Belgium on Saturday (16h00 kick-off).