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"Don't Look Back In Anger" - England fans' emotional praise following Croatia defeat
12 July 2018, 10:29 | Myron Mathis
Croatia beats England to qualify for their first World Cup final
England, appearing in their first semi-final since 1990, had looked on course for their first final since 1966 as they led through Kieran Trippier's fifth-minute free kick and totally dominated the opening half.
England held on despite losing their nerve, but Croatia broke them down once against in injury time when Mario Mandzukic grabbed the victor.
The Three Lions' failure to reach their first World Cup final in 52 years was greeted with desolation in the stadium in Moscow.
"The all-round perception was that this is a new-look England who have changed their ways of punting long-balls upfield", Vrsaljko said. "They have to use this experience for benefit and I know that what´s happened over the last few weeks will make them a stronger team".
The game went to extra time after neither side could find a victor in normal time, where Croatia continued their dominance. Croatia have hardened warriors whose understanding of big matches at times came to the fore.
Causing troubleRaheem Sterling caused Croatia all sorts of problems with his pace and movement.
He said: "All these words from them we take, we were reading and we were saying: 'OK, today we will see who will be exhausted.' They should be more humble and respect their opponents more".
The script that said Croatia was exhausted and England would take advantage, seemed to play out early.
Vrsaljko, who plays for Atletico Madrid, had struggled to be ready for the match after playing in two previous extra-time matches, but he found the strength to lift his exhausted, battered team to a comeback win.
"I think in the first half we were really good and maybe we could have got another goal", Southgatetold ITV. I thought they played well and made it hard for us.
"There was a spell in the second half when they got the goal and their tails were really up and we had to weather the storm and lost our way a little bit".
With his first worldwide goal, just over a year after his England debut, the 27-year-old Trippier joined David Beckham as the only English players since 1966 to score on free kicks at the World Cup.
But the bottom line is they will now be facing France in the final: not England.
Hazard shone at times but Kevin De Bruyne was quiet and Manchester United striker Lukaku was a shadow of the player he had been earlier in the tournament, even though Belgium enjoyed most of the possession.