The story of the match as Croatia crush England's World Cup hopes

Howard TerryJul 12, 2018

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

What happened this morning?

France, which won its only title at home in 1998, will have an extra day of rest after beating Belgium 1-0 on Tuesday. England had a free kick wide, but Subasic was able to come in with the save.

He was everywhere in the second half as Croatia searched for the equalizer, whether it was serving balls into the box or scoring the first Croatia goal or hitting the ball on Mandzukic's second.

England, appearing in its first semifinal since 1990, had looked on course for its first final since 1966, as it led through Kieran Trippier's fifth-minute free kick and totally dominated the opening half.

Around 7,000 England fans had managed to get hold of tickets through official channels, with 2,180 doing so via the England Supporters Travel Club tickets and the rest in Federation Internationale de Football Association sales.

Perisic equalized in the 68th minute, though, and then set up Mandzukic in the 109th minute for the eventual victor.

In Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, Croatia have arguably the best midfield in Russian Federation and the presence of star strikers Mario Mandzukic and Ante Rebic add some added force upfront. The forwards hadn't the space they have been used to, the wing-backs had retreated and in midfield, battles were physical and play restricted.

"I don't know [if we deserved better]", Southgate added. You can't switch off for even a moment in this game, especially if you're a defender, or pro sharpshooters like Perisic and Mandzukic will make you pay in a heartbeat.

"So, I'm pleased for him that he's in a semi-final of a World Cup, but hopefully that journey for him ends tomorrow".

It was also the ninth of England's 12 goals in Russian Federation that came from a set-piece.

Read all of Business Insider's World Cup coverage here.

"England have been deadly from set-plays and I think this could be their route to the final".

Harry Kane has been England's focal point in the World Cup. Martin Peters scored the other of England's four in the final.

England manager Gareth Southgate is not about to change his team's approach for tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) World Cup semi-final against Croatia, saying he wants the "same again" from his young side.

The crowd fell a little flat as the game went into extra time, with many perhaps fearing the prospect of penalties and the memory of the last time England made it so far at Italia 90 - a 4-3 penalty shootout loss to West Germany.

Right now, individual awards may mean little to Kane - but his manager, England boss Gareth Southgate, believes the entire team can feel proud of what they accomplished in Russian Federation.

"We are just going to stick with what we have been doing all the way through".

Henry Winter, veteran English football writer: "England gave everything". "A new generation is enjoying the magic of this World Cup run". Young team with huge potential.

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