Our experts looked at the key points from last night’s semi-final defeat: where the game was ultimately won for Croatia and lost for England, and how Gareth Southgate’s side struggled to cope with the intimidating midfield combination of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Marcelo Brozovic.
It’s not coming home, sadly, after England crashed out of the World Cup with extra time defeat to Croatia.
It was his first goal for his country, England’s 12th of the tournament and ninth from a set-piece, but they should have added more from open play as they revelled in the space they were being given in the first half. Tonight we weren’t quite there. “We left everything out there”.
“Mentally strong team”, midfielder Ivan Rakatic said. “We are a nation of people who are proud, never give in and have character”. “I will get more attention and it won’t be easy to go out for meals if I am in certain places but it won’t change my view on the world or the things I attempt to do”.
“Players had run out of steam but that´s partly their age – they´re still physically maturing”.
It was a big match – and big matches need big opinions. Croatia controlled the ball in the middle, and the experience showed, as it out-shot England 22-11 and completed over 100 passes more in the match.
“It hurts. I don’t know what else to say”.
Thankfully, it looks like no photojournalists were injured in the celebration of Mandzukic’s goal.
“I think he´s given absolutely everything for the team”, Southgate said of the 24-year-old England captain.
‘They’re on their way to being top players but they’re not there yet but we can see we’re progressing and really heading in the right direction’.
Croatia has advanced to its first-ever World Cup final in men’s soccer.
After taking an early lead, England mustered just one more effort on target through John Stones’ 98th min header.
Before that, England will face Belgium on Saturday to determine who will finish in third place in the tournament. It wasn’t the outcome we wanted and as painful as it is right now, I’m sure we will learn an very bad lot from last night’s game. Did we expect to be in this position?
“We deserved the victory”, said match-winner Mandzukic. We’re the guys who are running on the pitch but he’s the backbone of this team. “I can’t put into words how much credit he deserves for this”. “It´s too easy to move on quickly”.
“Yeah of course [I want to play]. That will be the challenge”.