- Croatia reached World Cup Final for the First time. Mario Mandzukic shattered England hope, scored winner at 109′
- Kieran Trippier gave early lead to England, when he scored goal from a 30 yeard free-kick.
- Ivan Perisic equalised at 68′ and awarded Budweiser Man of the Match
Croatia dashed England hope as they beat England 2-1 to move to World Cup Final. Earlier England vs Croatia Semifinal went to extra-time when the regulation time ended with score-line levelled at 1-1.
Earlier both the coaches Zlatko Dalić and Gareth Southgate had all the players available for the Semifinal and they did not tinker with earlier starting eleven.
England established control of the game from beginning and it didn’t take them long to get ahead. Just four minutes into the match, England was awarded a free-kick just 25-30 yards from goal when Modrić fouled Alli. The free-kick was perfectly bent over the wall and into the top corner by Kieran Trippier and Subašić could not reach anywhere near to the trajectory on time.
Croatia were back into the match, when Ivan Perisic had scored an improvisational equaliser in the 68th minute, showing great determination to beat Trippier and Kyle Walker to a cross from the right and twisting mid-air to turn an awkward volley, past Jordan Pickford.
Following are six reasons which differentiated both the teams,
1. England failed to capilalize early chances : England had chances to increase the lead in the first half. Yet they could not add a second goal when they were on top. Kane had his big moment after half-hour into the match. He found himself free in the box but his low effort was smothered by Danijel Subasic. The rebound fell to the England skipper but, from an acute angle, his shot cannoned off an upright and away to safety. Though Croatia too, missed few chances in the second half. Less than five minutes after equaliser, Perisic found himself in space in the English penalty area, but his effort struck the post, and the follow-up was gratefully held by Jordan Pickford. The Inter Milan man’s effort off the woodwork took the match to extra time.
2. England lost out in Second half and specially after the equaliser they look visibly lost from the match. Though during first half, it looked like it was another England match, but Croatia came back after the break, with Mordic operating in the middle.
3. Inexperienced of young English team- England team looked effortless most of the time in defence as well as in attack, but some momentary lapses cost them the match. Southgate acknowledged after the match that their inexperience might have counted against them during that inevitable period in the second half when Croatia committed more men forward in their search for an equaliser. Too often, an England player would rush or miscue a clearance. England showed lack of “Game Management”. England’s brilliant set-piece execution went to vain as they could not withstand Croatia pressure in later quarter of the match.
4. Fitness level and Toughness of Croatians – Croatia have won all three of their knockout games after extra time. Towards the end of regulated time, they looked less exhausted than England team. Southgate also mentioned Croatia team as the “hardened warriors”. Stones lost concentration for a split-second and the striker rifled in a left-foot shot. Croatia made all their four changes in Extra time and two, after winning goal. England inducted Rashford (at 74′) and Rose (at 92′) in search of freah-legs, substituting Sterling and Rose respectively. In early extra-time, Croatia saved one from goal-line when a Stone header beat Subašić but was cleared off the line by Vršaljko. Jamie Vardy also came in late to
5. Harry Kane was not his usual self today- Though Harry Kane will almost certainly in the Golden Boot, the paradox is that he has found it difficult to get behind opposition defences. He missed few chances in today’s big match and did not have edge over Croatian defence.
6. Luca Mordic regain himself in second half – The little general that Croatia have as their captain, executed his role flawlessly. He had not been eye-grabbing but he forwarded relentless passes to his teammate, changing positions, making tackles to stop England attack and what’s best about him, looking everything very simple and easy. It might be boring but he played effective football to bring back Croatia into the match.
England will now play Belgium in Saturday’s third/fourth place play-off in St Petersburg.