Croatia beat England 2-1 in Moscow to reach the World Cup final for the first time in their history courtesy Mario Mandzukic’s extra-time strike which marked an impressive turnaround.
Kieran Trippier had given England the much-needed lead in just the fifth minute of the game through his magnificent free-kick. This allowed England to make an electric start as the team looked certain to book their ticket to the final for the first time since 1966, but the team started to lose steam just before the end of the first half.
Croatian players looked recharged in the second half as they began to control the ball with considerable ease. The English players looked tired and kept faltering in the supply of the ball. This proved costly as Ivan Perisic equalised for Croatia in the 68th minute.
The Three Lions managed to hold on to force extra-time and initially looked the more threatening of the two teams once again in the first half of the extra-time.
But it was Mandzukic who landed the decisive blow in the 109th minute, ending England’s dreams for another 4 years and setting up a final with France.
Mandzukic came out on top soon after the start of second period of the extra-time, latching on to Perisic’s headed pass and sending a left-footed effort across Pickford to find the bottom-right corner, securing Croatia a World Cup final berth.
With France already booking the slot by beating Belgium in the first semi-final tie, Croatia will take on the Les Bleus at Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday for the final.