Monday, 10 December, 2018

Mandzukic sends Croatia to first World Cup final

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       England's match-day preparations are centred around one particular tactic. Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh 4:59 England's match-day preparations are centred around one particular tactic. Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh
Charles Bowen | 12 July, 2018, 20:09

Croatia will now play France in their first ever World Cup final on Sunday.

As for the game itself, Southgate was pleased with aspects of his team's performance against an experienced and wily Croatian side, who will now play France in Sunday's World Cup Final.

"We deserved the victory", said match-winner Mandzukic.

Trippier's set piece on five minutes was England's 12th at Russian Federation 2018, more than any other Three Lions side.

Although Walker said there was a feeling it was "written in the stars for you to go to the final and hopefully do something special" when Kieran Trippier scored a terrific free-kick after five minutes against Croatia, he acknowledged that their opponents were a totally different proposition in the second half and wished them well in the final.

Croatia, in their first semi since 1998, levelled through Ivan Perisic after 68 minutes and then looked the more risky side.

The 1-1 score held as the match went into extra time.

In the seaside city of Split, fans wearing red and white checked Croatian shirts gathered in the bars, cafes and squares in the late afternoon sun, singing songs in anticipation of the night ahead.

But Croatia summoned the strength to come back in the second half, equalising through Ivan Perisic before Mario Mandzukic got the victor in the 109th minute. England now play with little or no stage fright and the team is free of the inter-club rivalries that plagued the Three Lions in the past.

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

"It hurts, it hurts a lot". We were 1-0 down in three games in a row and we overtook all these.

"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. It's been a fantastic journey. I don't know, but I think Southgate thought he would keep faith in a team that had got them this far.

"We've come an incredibly long way in a short space of time". He knows what to say at the right time.

But he is yet to fully convince and win the trust of everyone, and is still susceptible to occasional errors, highlighted by his stray pass that allowed Russian Federation a chance to go clear on goal in the closing minutes of the quarter-final.

In delirious scenes in Paris, fans let off fire crackers and released smoke flares. There will be legitimate questions about how much they have left in the tank.

"Normally he would have been forced into a change because someone would get injured but, freakishly, we've had no injuries".

"It's not something I'm really thinking about at the moment to be honest, it's not the game we wanted to be in", Kane admitted.

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