England were so close to the unimaginable, says Southgate

Lovren Kane

Indeed, after getting to the tournament's final four, after reversing a terrible penalty shootout history, in its round-of-16 win over Colombia, there's a sense of optimism in England about this young, talented and appealing team.

"We've got to keep getting over those hurdles and I know we talked about the success of the younger teams but this is a much harder, much bigger level for the players and the belief is building as things are happening". However, we showed again that we are not exhausted, we dominated the game physically, mentally, in all aspects.

Trippier's curling fifth-minute free-kick was his first worldwide goal, a prominent example of the quality of his delivery that has given rise to the "Bury Beckham" moniker because he was born in Bury near Manchester. It was an abrupt end to a run that rejuvenated England's soccer program and fell two wins short of the country's first World Cup title since 1966.

England continued to dominate for the first half, missing chances to add to their lead before the break.

England paid the price for those early misses when Perisic showed great determination to get in front of Kyle Walker to meet a curling Sime Vrsaljko cross and though his boot was arguably high, Walker was stooping and there were few complaints.

Suddenly the massed ranks of red-and-white-clad Croatia fans behind Pickford's goal started to believe and shortly afterwards Perisic hit the post but England somehow clung on to take the game into extra-time.

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England's keeper Jordan Pickford made a brilliant save in stoppage time of the first half of extra time, appearing to injure Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic in the process.

Zagreb daily 24sata wrote: "England had no chance tonight - Southgate's players did not just play against Dalic's footballers but the whole of Croatia. Nothing he is going to say is going to make us feel any better", Kane said. "It hurts a lot, [and will hurt] for a while".

Mandzukic's movement was also a constant challenge for England's back three and John Stones, in particular, did not look as composed as he has done in previous games.

If Alli's performance in Moscow is placed alongside that of Perisic, it is clear to see the difference between a player searching for form at this World Cup and one on top of his game.

In delirious scenes in Paris, fans let off fire crackers and released smoke flares.

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