Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Gareth Southgate says England face toughest World Cup test against Croatia

Gareth Southgate says England face toughest World Cup test against Croatia

An early England goal had Three Lions fans dreaming of a World Cup Final appearance.

The supporters were in dreamland when Kieran Trippier curled a David Beckham-esque free kick into the top corner in the fifth minute.

But Croatia, in their first semi since 1998, leveled through Ivan Perisic after 68 minutes and then looked the more unsafe side.

It was a different game from then on, with Croatia suddenly playing with accuracy and objective as England lost their shape and composure, though Kane missed a chance to win it in stoppage time when he headed wide from a free kick.

The captain was the man of the match again in the penalty shootout win over Russian Federation in Sochi at the weekend.

The semi-final match of the 2018 Football World Cup between Croatia and England will be LIVE telecast on Sony Ten 2/Sony Ten 2 HD (English), Sony Ten 3/Sony Ten 3 HD (Hindi) and Sony ESPN (Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu) TV channels.

"It's tough, we're gutted", he said.

Croatia hung on and it was to their huge credit that they turned the tide after the break in what developed into an epic encounter.

"They of course have a very strong midfield so, (it is about) denying them space and making sure awareness of distances and coverage of the pitch is correct and (knowing) the right moments to press", he said.

That caution proved to well founded as Mario Mandzukic's extra-time victor fired Croatia into Sunday's final against France as England's expense in a tense semi-final in Moscow, with Keane biding his time before revisiting his previous discussion with Wright.

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.

"All the celebrations and the songs they're singing back home, it inspires us as players to be able to sort of bring the nation together and put smiles on people's faces".

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Harry Kane shot weakly at Danijel Subasic and forced the rebound against a post while Raheem Sterling was a constant thorn in the Croatia defense.

Dele Alli, who has struggled with a thigh problem this tournament, was taken off 15 minutes before the end against Sweden and England's extra freshness could be a factor this evening.

England paid the price for those early misses when Perisic showed great determination to get in front of Kyle Walker to meet a curling Sime Vrsaljko cross and though his boot was arguably high, Walker was stooping and there were few complaints.

Here is how social media reacted to Croatia's victory and England's exit at the World Cup semifinals.

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.

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.

"This is a miracle".

England scored nine goals from set pieces at this tournament, the most by any team in a single World Cup tournament since 1966.

"That will help us, but the chances are 50-50, I believe, because everybody deserves to be at the semi-final".

"We're gutted. It hurts, it hurts a lot", Kane said after the match at the Luzhniki Stadium.

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

You need a reality check man. Get excited when they get to the final man! And that's just us watching.

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