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Croatia vs England
2018 FIFA World Cup, Semi-Final
Croatia seemed nervous at the back from get-go with Luka Modric giving away a free kick from a dangerous area early on.
It allowed England to get off the perfect start as Kieran Trippier’s free kick curled away from the goal keeper and into the top corner.
It had only been five minutes but a fatigued Croatian side were chasing the game.
England could have put them away in the first half via two clear-cut chances from Harry Kane and Jesse Lingard.
But neither man was able to put the ball into the net from positions where they really should have scored – especially Kane who was through on goal.
England rued those early chances as Croatia dominated the second half.
They got the goal they deserved, Sime Vrsaljko’s ball into the box found Ivan Perisic who directed the ball into the net with his boot.
Perisic nearly put his ahead but his shot hit the inside off the post.
Neither side could find a breakthrough and the game went to extra-time.
It was in the second period of extra-time that there was a breakthrough, with Mario Mandzukic pouncing on Perisic’s header over the English defence to put the Croats up with just minutes remaining.
It was enough to put them over the line as Croatia booked a final spot against France.
Croatia* 1 (2)
England 1 (1)
Croatia and England face-off in the second semi-final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with the winner advancing to the final to take on France. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match from 4am (AEST).
After an impressive run in the group stage, including a 3-nil win over Argentina, Croatia have slowed down considerably.
Their two knockout games, against Denmark and Russia, both ended via penalty shootout.
Having played more than 240 minutes of football in two games, taking on a fit English side will be big ask. They’ve also just sacked coaching assistant Ognjen Vukojevic for a political chant over social media.
Key man Luka Modric has played well for his side but he’s going to need his teammates to step up.
England’s only loss thus far this tournament came in the group stages, against Belgium, but both nations were playing weaker teams as they had already qualified for the knockout phase.
However you can only beat the opponent that’s in front of you and England have been doing precisely that.
A shootout win over Colombia in the Round of 16, followed by a 2-nil win over Sweden in the quarters showed that the Three Lions can win under pressure and also beat teams professionally.
Harry Kane leads the World Cup goal tally, with six, and it’s increasingly looking like he will win the Golden Boot.
Croatia are having internal problems, have issues at home, and have played a lot more minutes of football.
If a fit England side take the game to the Croats, they should book a spot in the finals.
Croatia 0-1 England
Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match from 4am (AEST).