England vs. Croatia: Southgate Urges Team To Create History

   Paul Gascoigne has urged Gareth Southgate to keep it

GETTY Paul Gascoigne has urged Gareth Southgate to keep it

While Dejan Lovren has gotten most of the footballing attention from the Croatian defence, Vida has been more consistent for a Croatian defence that has only conceded four goals in five games.

England fell one win short of its goal of reaching the World Cup final, surrendering a 1-0 lead in Wednesday's semifinal against Croatia. And they were down against England in the semifinals and advanced.

"And possibly at that moment, the experience of being ahead in a big game like this, we were hanging on a little bit rather than trying to control the game". 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. "And I don't think after the six or seven weeks we have been together, that we could have given more". "God willing, we will be world champions". Kevin Trippier curled in a free kick in the fifth minute. But a wild shot from Sime Vrsaljko, passed fit for this match late on, summed up a first half in which they looked anxious and bereft of ideas.

Midfielder Perisic was outstanding in the second half and caused England no end of problems. We were a goal down in three games in a row.

Ivan Perisic's equalizer in the 68th minute changed everything.

Perisic almost scored a second goal just minutes later, as he latched onto the ball following a defensive lapse before striking the post with his shot.

Then Mandzukic scored, giving Croatia the lead for the first time in the match, and there was no way back for England.

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And it nearly happened early in the extra session when John Stones rose to meet a corner kick, only for Vrsaljko to clear the goal-bound header off the line. Walker attempted to clear diving header but Perisic jumped and from behind raised his left boot over Walker's head to poke the ball past goalkeeper Jordan Pickford from about 8 yards.

"This is a miracle".

But the cold hard truth is that England squandered its chance to reach the final.

"We gave it everything, I know we're gonna look back and say we could have done this and what but at the end of the day it was small margins in a big game and it didn't go our way today", said striker Kane, now the tournament's top scorer with six goals. If he's honest he'll say what we have said. We played today better than against Argentina.

Coach Gareth Southgate also lamented his team not making their early dominance decisive.

Even in penalties, you wouldn't have counted this England team out. They produced their best performance of the tournament right when they needed it most, showing their deep reserves of strength with another victory from a game that went to 120 minutes. "We have had a fantastic journey, further than we thought", he added.

With an ascendant young French team awaiting them in Sunday's final, recovery will be all important for the Croats, given the number of minutes they have accumulated in their legs and having one fewer day to prepare.

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