Croatian player Mario Mandzukic became his country’s new darling after he scored the winning goal. The goal came deep in extra time as Croatia beat England 2-1 in a gripping World Cup semi-final in Moscow. With this victory, they set up a date with France for the win.
The Juventus forward found the back of the net in the 109th minute to complete a remarkable comeback. This is Croatia’s maiden World Cup in their short history. Kieran Trippier gave the Three Lions an early lead with a magnificent free-kick.
England were surely on course to reach their first final since they lifted the trophy on home soil back in 1966. But Croatia came roaring back in the second half and equalised through Ivan Perisic.
The big gainers could be France, who have had an extra day’s rest for Sunday’s final after edging out Belgium 1-0 on Tuesday.
But right now, Croatia will be busy revelling in their victory. England hoped to make history in their first appearance in the semi-finals in 28 years.
The Croats saw the game out and rained on Gareth Southgate’s World Cup dream. Southgate opted for an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach as he stuck with the line-up that eased past Sweden in the quarter-finals.
Croatia hoped that Luka Modric would control the game. Instead, he gave away the early free-kick from which Trippier converted.
Zlatko Dalic’s side gradually found their feet and were relieved to go into half-time with a 1-0 deficit. England’s star player, Harry Kane was denied by a combination of goalkeeper Danijel Subasic and the woodwork on the half-hour mark.
Shooting towards the end of the Luzhniki Stadium where most of their fans were gathered, they equalised in the 68th minute. Sime Vrsaljko crossed from the right and Perisic stole in front of the stooping Kyle Walker to score with his left foot.