Croatia follows France in the World Cup final – 2-1 win over England

Croatia makes football history – England are fighting for third place

Moscow Winning goal scorer Mario Mandzukic carried captain Luka Modric over the pitch, defender Sime Vrsaljko threw his coach Dalic to the ground with joy – and the English sat deeply disappointed on the pitch. Thanks to Mandzukic’s late goal, Croatia are reaching for the World Cup for the first time and have inflicted a bitter semi-final defeat on the motherland of football.

The former Munich player scored in the 109th minute for the 1998 World Cup third party who beat England 2-1 (1: 1, 0: 1) after extra time. The 98 world champion France is now waiting for the final on Sunday. For Gareth Southgate’s team, the dream of the final fell apart 52 years after Wembley triumphed against Germany. “That really hurts,” said World Cup top scorer Harry Kane. “We got so involved, we worked so hard.”

In front of 78,011 spectators at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Kieran Trippier (5th) gave England the lead on Wednesday with a free kick, Ivan Perisic (68th) equalized for coach Zlatko Dalic’s team and thus initiated the turnaround.

England got off to a dream start and, as is so often the case at this World Cup, a set piece paved the way to happiness. Luka Modric had fouled Dele Alli a good 20 meters from the goal in a central position, and Trippier took advantage of it ice cold. The flank player flicked the free kick into the top right corner, Croatia’s last strong keeper Danijel Subasic just watched.

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Tens of thousands of unleashed fans threw their mugs into the air at the public viewing in London’s Hyde Park and celebrated the hit with a collective beer shower. It was England’s twelfth goal at the tournament in Russia – the ninth after a dormant ball.

The early leadership gave the Three Lions additional security. After a corner, defender Harry Maguire had the next chance, but headed wide (14th).

Not much came together with the Croatians. The build-up game was slow, the passes were often imprecise. A long-range shot by the former Dortmund and Wolfsburg Perisic, who missed his target by half a meter, was all that coach Dalic’s team had to offer in the early stages (19th). Playmaker Modric struggled against guard Alli.

The English offensive players did better. Again and again they left their opponents behind and almost rewarded themselves with the second goal after half an hour. Alli did well on Kane, but the attacker failed first on Subasic and then on the post. Although the Turkish referee Cüneyt Cakir then whistled offside, he would have reversed his decision if he scored a goal with the help of the video assistant.

Croatia got no access, in the crucial situations the Southgate team was always a tad faster at first. Jesse Lingard moved from a promising position (36th) – England could have led 2-0 or 3-0 at the break.

After the break, Croatia tried more and approached the English goal. Keeper Jordan Pickford didn’t have much to do at first. The last pass of the Croatians did not arrive yet, Kyle Walker blocked a tight Perisic shot in dire need (65th). The defender was surprised for three minutes 2: Vrsaljko crossed into the center, Perisic stormed up from behind and maneuvered the high ball into the goal in front of Walker.

Suddenly Croatia was wide awake, England unsettled. Perisic had the 2-1 close, but only hit the post. Mandzukic failed to Pickford (83rd). For England, Lingard had previously not aimed precisely enough in one of the now increasingly rare attacks (77th).

Croatia had to go into extra time for the third time in a row. Vrsaljko saved after a header from the English defender John Stones for his already beaten goalkeeper (99th), on the other side Pickford was on the spot against Mandzukic (105th + 2). A little later, the goalkeeper was powerless after Perisic presented to Mandzukic and the 32-year-old scored the frenetically acclaimed victory. 20 years after losing to France in the semi-final, Croatia now has the chance to take a big revenge in the final.



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