England has been eliminated in the semi-finals of the World Cup courtesy of an xtra-time defeat at the hands of Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
An energy-sapping epic went the distance after Ivan Perisic had cancelled out Kieran Trippier’s early opener, with both sides missing chances to put the game to bed before the additional 30 minutes.
More chances following in extra time, but it was Mario Mandzukic who made himself the hero with a 109th-minute winner to send Croatia into the final of the World Cup for the first time ever, where they will face France on Sunday.
More importantly, though, it gave England a dream start to their first semi-final in 28 years, and they kept the early pressure on as Croatia were slow to get going.
It took 32 minutes for Jordan Pickford to be called into action for the first time, and even then it was a straightforward stop from the England keeper to deny Ante Rebic’s curling effort after Maguire had failed to clear his lines.
England struggled to maintain their first-half momentum, though, and Croatia’s threat slowly began to grow, with Kyle Walker needing to make a brave block to deny Perisic from the edge of the box.
Croatia’s breakthrough finally came with just over 20 minutes remaining of normal time when Perisic got in front of Walker and steered the ball past Pickford with an inventive finish after Slime Vrsaljko had been given time to swing his cross into the box.
It took a similar piece of heroism from Pickford at the other end to keep the scores level in stoppage time of the first half of extra time when Perisic’s wicked delivery appeared to lay the ball on a plate for Mandzukic, only for the England keeper to fly out and make a sensational save from point-blank range