Mandzukic sends steely Croatia into first World Cup final

Irene MckinneyJul 12, 2018

Dalic said Sterling's speed and work alongside tournament top scorer Harry Kane is "really dangerous" and combatting it will be vital to slowing the Three Lions' attack. "We have had a fantastic journey, further than we thought", he added.

But Croatia summoned the strength to come back in the second half, equalising through Ivan Perisic before Mario Mandzukic got the victor in the 109th minute.

"I don't know what will happen if we win, probably nobody will go to work".

"We've played five hard games and I know they are exhausted but there can't be any excuses", he added.

"I was in Nice to watch us lose too Iceland, I was in Kiev to lose against Italy. It hurts. I don't know what else to say". England also made sure of early progress from the group stage after beating Tunisia 2-1 and Panama 6-1, allowing Southgate to rest players in the 1-0 defeat to Belgium.

At times in the first half, they were struggling for air against England, but Croatia still held on, and fought back to win.

The second semi-final between England and Croatia will start at 6am tomorrow. Although they have come up with goods in the shootouts, it is those 90 minutes where they will need to command their authority over the Three Lions which will be of more relevance. England had also won on penalties against Colombia in the second round.

Just for once, England are quite likeable and while I am still not convinced they are a very good team, they could be playing in a World Cup final on Sunday. Gareth Southgate is likely to name an unchanged starting line-up from last time out. His positional discipline will be vital to England's hopes of stymying the playmaking brilliance of Modric, who has arguably been the player of the tournament.

Fears of violence and racism ahead of the World Cup, bolstered by memories of clashes between England and Russian Federation fans Marseille during the European Championship in France in 2016, may have put supporters off travel to Russian Federation for the tournament.

"In the first period of extra-time, I felt real fatigue in my knee".

Wednesday's World Cup semifinal between Croatia and England has several intriguing subplots that provide an extra edge to an already tantalizing clash.

England paid the price for those misses when Perisic showed great determination to get in front of Kyle Walker to meet a Sime Vrsaljko cross and though his boot was high and he threw an anxious glance at the referee, Walker was stooping and there were few complaints.

England looked rattled in the immediate aftermath of Perisic's goal, and could have gone behind to another Perisic goal after the experienced midfielder capitalised on a defensive mix-up only to see his shot strike the post. "We've won after scoring in the last minute, won after conceding in the last minute, come through extra-time and penalties", he told the BBC.

A late Croatia onslaught was unable to complete the turnaround and England stepped things up again in extra-time, nearly retaking the lead when John Stones had a header cleared off the line by Vrsaljko in the 98th minute.

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