Mario Mandzukic struck the decisive blow, catching out a sleeping England defence to smash a low finish past Jordan Pickford. Until then, it looked like the match would be decided by a penalty shootout, but the Juventus striker made sure his country reached their first ever World Cup final before it reached that stage.

Mario Mandzukic of Croatia celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's second goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Semi Final match between England and Croatia at Luzhniki Stadium on July 11, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (

Image credit: Getty Images

Kieran Trippier gave England the perfect start, curling a wonderful free-kick into the back of the net after just five minutes. And the Three Lions built on that, dominating the majority of the first half. But they failed to make the most of their chances, with Harry Kane in particular spurning opportunities.
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Croatia emerged for the second half stronger and equalised on 68 minutes when Ivan Perisic got ahead of Kyle Walker to flick home a finish on the volley. That took the game to extra-time, with Mandzukic scoring what proved to be the winner.

Trippier celebrates his goal

Image credit: Getty Images

England will rue this defeat for years to come, while Croatia will face France in the final on Sunday.

TALKING POINT - England’s youthful naivety finally showed in failure to kill the game

The first half could hardly have gone any better. And yet, that's where England ultimately lost the game and missed their chance to make a first World Cup final since 1966.
Kane should have scored a second, somehow hitting the post from a matter of yards out. Raheem Sterling probably could have done slightly better given some of the dangerous positions he found himself in too. In allowing the game to slip, this young England team finally showed their naivety. They should have killed the contest when they had the chance.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Mario Mandzukic (Croatia)

England hadn’t really faced a truly world-class striker on their run to the semi-finals and in Mandzukic they came up against a player who was equipped to make the most of any deficiencies at the back. The Juventus forward is a big-game player and he showed that this evening, not just scoring the winner, but setting the tone for what was a remarkable comeback from Croatia. Mandzukic is a nightmare to play against, as Harry Maguire, John Stones and Kyle Walker found out.


Croatia: Subasic 6, Vrsaljko 8, Vida 7, Lovren 8, Strinic 7, Rakitic 8, Modric 8, Rebic 7, Brozovic 7, Perisic 7, Mandzukic 8. Subs: Kramaric 6, Corluka 5, Pivaric 5.
England: Pickford 8, Walker 7, Stones 7, Maguire 6, Trippier 6, Henderson 6, Young 5, Lingard 6, Dele 5, Sterling 7, Kane 5. Subs: Rashford 5, Rose 5, Vardy 5, Dier 5.


5’ GOAL! Croatia 0-1 England: A dream start for England! Incredible! They have the lead within five minutes. It's Trippier! His first ever England goal. He finds the top corner of the Croatia net with a lovely free-kick effort! Subasic couldn't get there!
24’ KANE IS OFFSIDE! A dreadful clearance from Subasic presents the ball to England high up the pitch. Sterling could have gone along, he threads Kane instead who shoots wide. The flag was up, though.
31’ KANE DOUBLE SITTER! How has that not ended up in the back of the net. Kane was played clean through by Lingard, shot was saved and then from a yard out, from a very tight angle, he hits the post!
37’ BIG LINGARD CHANCE! The space opened up for Lingard on the edge of the box. Kane threaded out to Alli, who found Lingard in the centre, but he couldn't wrap his foot around the shot.
68’ GOAL! Croatia 1-1 England: An equaliser! Croatia have levelled things up! 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! Massive, massive goal.
72’ OFF THE POST! Croatia within inches of taking the lead. Perisic shifted the ball on to his left foot and smashed a shot across Pickford. But while it beat goalkeeper, it didn't beat the post!
100' OFF THE LINE! So close to a second England goal! Trippier finds Stones inside the box with the corner kick, but the centre back's header is headed off the line by Vrsaljko! Agonising!
107’ HUGE, HUGE PICKFORD SAVE! What a save from Pickford! The pass across the face of goal for Mandzukic was perfect, but the England goalkeeper came off his line to make the intervention! Wow!
109’ GOAL! Croatia 2-1 England: Maaaaaaandzukic! The Croatian striker drifted in behind the England defence, who weren't aware of his presence, and he spun to take the shot on the swivel, firing a low finish past Pickford. Advantage Croatia.
117’ TRIPPIER OFF! England are going to have to play these final few minutes without Trippier. It looks like his groin has gone and he is hobbling towards the England dugout.


Kieran Trippier became only the second England player to score a free-kick goal at a World Cup following David Beckham (1998 and 2006).
England have now scored more goals at this World Cup than they have at any other World Cup in history (12 goals).
Ivan Perisic has scored four goals at the World Cup for Croatia - only Davor Suker (six) has more.


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