Mandzukic breaks England hearts and fires Croatia into World Cup final

The rubber chicken went down well with the players

But Croatia, having won on penalties against Denmark and Russian Federation in the last two rounds, saw the game out, dousing the World Cup dream of Gareth Southgate's side that had gone from the improbable to the possible over the last month in Russian Federation. The France '98 semi-finalists will be looking to one of the players of the tournament, Luka Modric, to guide them one step further in Russian Federation.

Kieran Trippier's goal was the earliest in a World Cup semi-final since 1958. Croatia had been desperately poor but started to get a foothold in the game as the match rolled past the hour mark and Luka Modric's influence grew.

Lovren has improved greatly since that October debacle, playing a huge role in Liverpool's incredible Champions League campaign and Croatia's astonishing run thus far. "It is a game that is very evenly matched, we know what we want to do and we have to focus on our preparation and make sure that we control the controllables as we have attempted to do for every game", the manager said. "God willing, we will be world champions".

Three quick thoughts from Croatia's 2-1 extra-time win over England in the World Cup semifinals at Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday.

Croatia is showing the world that their 1998 golden generation - a side that also went to the World Cup semifinal - was not an aberration and that the country can produce top-level soccer talent to compete with the world's best.

In front of more than 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium, Bobby Charlton put them ahead with a rebound shot from a clearance in the first half and added another after the break to go 2-0 up against Portugal, led by 1965 Ballon d'Or victor Eusebio.

The best chance for a second goal, however, was wasted by an unmarked Jesse Lingard when he curled wide when a goal looked certain.

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Elspeth Patient, 34, who is originally from Milton Keynes but now lives in Los Angeles, said: "It's been fantastic, it's been such an incredible time for England".

England paid the price for those misses when Perisic showed great determination to get in front of Kyle Walker to meet a Sime Vrsaljko cross and though his boot was high and he threw an anxious glance at the referee, Walker was stooping and there were few complaints. Less than five minutes later, Perisic found himself in space in the English penalty area, but his effort struck the post, and the follow-up was gratefully held by Jordan Pickford.

Who will advance to the World Cup final Croatia or England?

Defender Vrsaljko was also instrumental, clearing a shot off the line in the first half of extra time as well as setting up Perisic's equaliser.

"This is a miracle".

The team's rare success at a major tournament has captured the nation's attention, but Southgate says - regardless of how far England go - that his life will remain the same.

"We created some good chances when we were 1-0 up, maybe we dropped a little too deep and we didn't get enough pressure on the ball", he said.

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