Gareth Southgate says England face toughest World Cup test against Croatia

12 July, 2018, 06:25 | Author: Donna Miller
  • Richard Buxton: Croatia coach Dalic could regret his comments

England almost scored again in extra time on a set piece when Stones' header was cleared off the line by Sime Vrsaljko.

In the first-half time and again Henderson just got himself in front of Modric enough to stop him opening England up.

France reached the final for the third time in their history on Tuesday when a second-half header from Samuel Umtiti gave the 1998 champions a 1-0 victory against Belgium in Saint Petersburg.

With Croatia playing in its third consecutive extra time match, the team somehow dug deep and found the energy needed to fight off the Three Lions, who looked more exhausted and fell asleep on the winning goal.

England's Golden Generation didn't come to fruition as the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney failed to take the Three Lions past the quarter-finals. Harry Kane & Co. will deal with the same disappointment that felled Shearer and Platt, Gazza and Wazza, Beckham and Gerrard.

Prince William, Reese Witherspoon and more celebrities have taken to social media to share their words of encouragement for Team England.

When Tottenham Hotspur's Dele Alli was fouled in range of goal by Luka Modric in the third minute, his club teammate Trippier stepped up to give England the start they wanted.

Team mate Sime Vrsaljko had a similar view, saying: "The all-round perception was that this is a new-look England who have changed their ways of punting long balls upfield but when we pressed them it turned out that they haven't". Perisic equalized in the 68th minute, though, and then set up Mandzukic in the 109th minute for the eventual victor.

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Rakitic switched the ball from left flank to right, where Vrsaljko crossed.

Pickford was similarly heroic at the other end, denying Mandzukic at point-blank range after the striker met Perisic's cross.

England players collapsed on the pitch, distraught as the Croatians and their fans celebrated wildly, .

Mandzukic scored after Walker stuck out a leg to block Josip Pivaric's cross. Perisic got in there ahead of Walker, who was trying to make the clearance with a header, and the Inter winger flicks home the finish with the outside of his foot! The pass across the face of goal for Mandzukic was flawless, but the England goalkeeper came off his line to make the intervention! Wow!

Crawford spoke about the influence manager, Gareth Southgate has had on this group of players, adding: "After the 1990 and 96 tournaments, we all felt a bit flat because Bobby Robson and Terry Venables left their post once it was over".

England wing-back Kieran Trippier had opened the scoring from a brilliant free kick in just the fifth minute, curling the ball over the Croatia wall and into the top right-hand corner.

"The first thing to say is this team has taken us to a place we never imagined we could get", said Neville. Suddenly, England looked like the exhausted ones. In the injury time before the half, Mario Mandžukić should've had one, but Pickford managed to kick it clear and the teams headed into the second half of extra time neck-and-neck. Croatia started to enjoy their best period of the match, dictating play and controlling possession.

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