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July 12, 2018

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Croatia beat England to reach World Cup final

MOSCOW: England's bid to reach a first World Cup final since 1966 came to an end in the last four as they lost in extra time to Croatia 2-1 in Moscow. Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic scored the winning goal in the 109th minute, slotting in from Ivan Perisic's flick-on into the area.

Perisic's volley sent the match into extra time after Kieran Trippier had given England a fifth-minute lead with a sublime free-kick. Unfancied before the competition, Gareth Southgate's young side defied expectations by reaching the semi-finals, but were undone by an experienced Croatia side.

England, playing in their first World Cup semi-final since 1990, got the perfect start through Trippier's brilliant free-kick and Croatia were finding it extremely difficult to deal with England's high-tempo game.

Harry Kane could have doubled the lead but was denied by goalkeeper Danijel Subasic and Jesse Lingard placed a shot wide from a good position. Croatia grew into the game in the second half and equalised through Perisic, and the Inter Milan winger hit the post with a low drive shortly after.

In extra time John Stones saw a header cleared off the line, while Pickford made a brilliant save from Mandzukic's close range effort - but the Everton man could do nothing about the winner. England will now play Belgium in Saturday's third/fourth place play-off in St Petersburg.

After a poor first half, when the two consecutive 120-minute matches Croatia had needed to reach the last four looked to have taken its toll, Croatia found seemingly endless reserves of energy after the break to set up a showdown in the Russian capital against France for the sport's ultimate prize.

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