“It’s coming home.” Well, not quite.
What started as a joke turned into the belief that England just might win the World Cup. However, they had to face a resilient and experienced Croatian side in the semi-final of the tournament.
Characteristically, the English took lead from a set-piece which was converted by Kieran Trippier. It took an hour for Croatia to get back into the game. For England fans, all hell broke loose after Ivan Perisic sharply equalized.
Things started clicking for Croatia following the goal and chances started following. Ivan Perisic again had the opportunity to score but his shot hit the post and England still had a chance.
After 90 minutes, it was still 1-1 and the game went into yet another extra-time for Croatia, who had played two back-to-back 120-minute games before this game.
There was a lot of noise about Croatian players being either too tired or too aged to manage such intensive 120 minutes on the back of the long games beforehand. But it was merely that, noise.
Lapse in concentration from Manchester City defender, John Stones, allowed Mario Mandzukic to get in behind and smash one past Pickford to give Croatia the win and a place in the final of the World Cup.
What followed was emotions and jubilation for Croatia. The players, who were written off before the tie showed great composure throughout and knocked a team which still has a long way to go before winning a major trophy.
Croatia will now face France in the final on Saturday, 15th July. Before that – England will play against Belgium for the third spot a day before.
Luka Modric Shames English Press & Pundits
Luka Modric, the maestro, accused the English journalists of showing lack of respect for Croatian players and admitted that a lot of effort was put in to motivate himself and his teammates ahead of the semi-final.
Modric has arguably been one of the best players this tournament and also impressed against England. His contribution helped Croatia come back from an early conceded goal and win the game in extra-time to defy the English journalists and pundits.
People were talking … English journalists, pundits from television. They underestimated Croatia tonight and that was a huge mistake. All these words from them we take, we were reading and we were saying: ‘OK, today we will see who will be tired.’ They should be more humble and respect their opponents more.
We showed again that we were not tired – we dominated the game mentally and physically.
We should have killed the game even before extra time. This is an amazing achievement for us – it’s a dream come true after such a long time. We are in the final and that is the biggest success in Croatia history. We have to be proud.