Monday, 23 July, 2018

Croatia reach World Cup final as England pain goes on

Lovren Kane GETTYHarry Kane has a history of getting the better of the Liverpool defender
Frederick Owens | 12 July, 2018, 18:01

Having gone into extra time and penalties in their previous two games ahead of Wednesday's semi-final, Modric said there was an assumption that the Croatian team would be exhausted, giving England the advantage.

Croatia's best chance of the half came in the 31st minute when Modric squared back to Rebic inside the box but his left foot shot was saved by Pickford.

"We're gutted", said Harry Kane, still on course to finish as the tournament's top goalscorer with six strikes in Russian Federation.

Italy striker Mario Balotelli has hit back at England fans who taunted him before they were eliminated from the World Cup.

The referees clearly didn't agree with the supposed loophole, leaving England players red faced in the middle of the pitch.

It means England will face Belgium in the third-place play-off on Saturday, instead of France in the final on Sunday, but Walker remains proud of his team-mates, and has singled out his manager for specific praise. "We dominated the game physically, mentally, in all aspects".

Mario Mandzukic's strike in extra-time sealed it as Croatia played an additional 30 minutes for the third time in a row.

"But we handled it well, but unfortunately we conceded at the wrong time, after that I thought we again picked it up again and done well".

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Gareth Southgate's men threw everything that they had at the Croatians, including - it turns out - an attempt to take advantage of a perceived rule loophole.

Mario Mandzukic grabbed the 109th-minute victor, and Barcelona star Rakitic admitted he would have done anything to play in the game.

England paid the price for those early misses when Perisic showed great determination to get in front of Kyle Walker to meet a curling Sime Vrsaljko cross and though his boot was arguably high, Walker was stooping and there were few complaints.

"We had hoped (for this) and we believed in our team, but the feeling when we finally entered the finals can not be compared to anything", said Ivan Kecerin, 41.

Cheeky stuff from The Metro, who made a decision to lead with a hard-hitting image of the moment four England players knew the World Cup dream was over. It's been a fantastic journey.

For English soccer fans used to painful World Cup exits, the semifinal loss hurt.

Croatia, on the other hand, still has work to do in this tournament.

The Liverpool defender, who has now reached the finals of the Champions League and the World Cup within two months, said he has proven himself to be one of the world's best defenders.

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