Croatia beats England in extra-time to reach first World Cup final

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History for Croatia, heartbreak for England.

Croatia will compete in its first World Cup final after putting England to the sword in Moscow with a dramatic extra-time win.For the third consecutive match, Croatia was forced to play 120 minutes after this semifinal ended 1-1 in normal time. But unlike in victories over Russia and Denmark, it did not need penalties to decide the outcome as Mario Mandzukic’s 109th-minute winner proved decisive.

Kieran Trippier’s first international goal, an exquisite free-kick in the fifth minute, gave England a lead which was negated when Ivan Perisic drew his team level in the second half.

After a poor first half, when Croatia’s exertions to reach the last four looked to have taken their toll, Zlatko Dalic’s men found seemingly endless reserves of energy after the break to set up a showdown in the Russian capital against France for the sport’s ultimate prize.

Dalic had admitted pre-match that brutal last-16 and quarterfinal matches had impacted his side, but he also said there could be “no excuses.” And despite falling behind, his players made sure there wouldn’t be as Croatia, a country with a population of just four million – one-13th the size of England’s — and ranked 20th in the world, continued its unexpected journey in Russia.

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