Perhaps, football had a terrible sense of humour and England had to pay the highest price. What started as a campaign slogan was supposed to be the reality, but since 1966 football had never come home and this time also, The Three Lions reached so close only to be tamed. It would always be a hot topic for football pundits to discuss if England really deserved to reach the final because they had one of the easiest group draw and even in their group they fell short to Belgium, an equally balanced team. However, the point Gareth Southgate wanted to prove had already been done and it remained a question, how far could he take this English side?
After Belgium’s shock exit, England started also as the favourites had a very big reason to be scared of but they started off well against the Croatians in the Luzhniki Stadium. This was the eighth meeting between Croatia and England, with Croatia winning only two games, with one draw and four England wins had the hopes high of the English fans that football would be coming home but it couldn’t as Croatian midfielders delivered at the crucial moment and kicked out England from playing the World Cup final.
The game hadn’t even been played more than five minutes, when Kieran Trippier scored a stunner from a set piece and gave The Three Lions, the lead they wanted as early as possible. The Croatians looked to be still searching for their coordination as plenty of passes were missed. The game dragged the same score of England 1-0 Croatia at break.
The Croatians came to the ground with more determination and started taking control of the game. In the 68th minute Ivan Persic found the equalizer for the Croatians and balanced the game. With both the teams playing attacking football, plenty of attacks were met by the goal keepers but both the goalies held a strong line.
The game went on to Extra Time but both the teams held a strong line of defense so the winner was yet to be decided and that is when in the second goal came in the second half of the Extra Time came from Mario Mandzukic, the most crucial goal he could ever scored in his career.
Croatia is going to play their first ever World Cup final against France on Sunday.