Watch the highlights of goals and key plays as Croatia beats England in extra time to reach the World Cup final for the first time ever.

By Avi Creditor
July 11, 2018

Croatia felt right at home in another set of extra time.

Forced into 30 extra minutes for a third straight time in the World Cup knockout stage, Croatia persevered and beat England 2-1, with Mario Mandzukic's 109th-minute goal securing the nation's first World Cup final berth.

It was England that struck first on Kieran Trippier's fifth-minute free kick in their semifinal clash, but Ivan Perisic set up a scintillating finish in Moscow witha 68th-minute goal that tilted the momentum Croatia's way. Mandzukic overcame an apparent injury on a chance at the end of the first half of extra time, latching onto Perisic's header and scoring from close range for the goal that sets up a Sunday final vs. France.

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The early stages of the game were marked by fouls on both sides, but the first dangerous one was won in the fourth minute, when Luka Modric clattered into Dele Alli about 23 yards out and straightaway. England made Croatia pay instantly, with Trippier bending a perfect free kick over the wall and by a diving Danijel Subasic to give the Three Lions an early 1-0 lead and a dream start. It marked England's ninth goal off either a corner kick, free kick or penalty kick at this World Cup, and it was the first international goal of the 27-year-old Trippier's career.

England threatened again off a set piece in the 14th minute, with Harry Maguire, scorer of a goal vs. Sweden, heading down off a corner kick but directing his chance wide of the mark.

Croatia's first opportunity on goal came in the 19th minute, when Ivan Strinic took a speculative blast from long distance, putting it just to the left of Jordan Pickford's goal. It appeared to take a deflection off Kyle Walker's heel, but a goal kick was given, ending the Croatian threat.

England probably should have doubled its lead half an hour in. Jesse Lingard slipped Kane through on the left with a precise, well-timed pass, but the Golden Boot leader had his close-range chance denied by Subasic. The rebound fell to Kane at the post, and as he tried to tuck it inside the upright, he hit it off the woodwork, with the ball bouncing off Subasic and to safety as Kane stood in bewilderment at how he didn't score.

England had another opportunity in the 36th through Lingard, who fired wide from the top of the box. Tottenham teammates Kane and Alli combined to carry the ball forward, with the latter setting up the Manchester United star. He's proven adept at curling shots in from there, but he mishit his opportunity, letting Croatia off.

Trippier nearly played provider a few minutes into the second half, as England went in search of an insurance goal. He hit a first-time volleyed cross from the right after receiving a ball over the top, picking out Kane eight yards out. It took a last-ditch clearance to prevent Kane from getting his head to it, as the match remained 1-0.

England was left to rue not finding that insurance goal in the 68th minute, when Croatia pulled even. Sime Vrsaljko, who was an injury question entering the match after getting hurt in extra time vs. Russia, delivered a great cross from the right, and Perisic extended his boot high to meet it, poking it by Jordan Pickford to make it 1-1.

Perisic hit the post moments later, with Croatia buzzing with momentum. The rebound fell to Ante Rebic, but his follow-up chance was saved by Pickford, allowing England to breathe after a chaotic sequence.

Croatia, desperately trying to avoid a third straight match going to extra time, went in search of a winner, and it nearly came through Mandzukic, whose volley from the right side of the box was palmed away by Pickford.

In the 83rd minute, Pickford nearly committed a massive gaffe when trying to punch away a looping ball. It allowed Perisic to have a look at a wide open goal, albeit a hurried one, and he lofted his chance over the bar.

England earned a free kick in stoppage time, and a great chance to snatch a winner, given its set-piece proficiency. Trippier served in a great ball to Kane, but he couldn't direct his clean header on frame, and the match remained level. 

England nearly pulled ahead in the 98th minute on a corner kick. Center back John Stones, who scored twice vs. Panama, was able to get a powerful header off the corner, but Vrsaljko retreated to the goal line and managed to head it to safety, keeping the score 1-1.

It was Pickford's turn to play hero at the end of the first half of stoppage time, as he raced off his line to block Mandzukic's chance out in front. The Croatia forward looked to redirect a pinpoint early cross from the left, but the England goalkeeper made himself big and did what he had to do, taking out Mandzukic in the process.

In the second period of extra time, Croatia had a great chance to score off a quickly taken corner kick, with Marcelo Brozovic getting an open look, albeit one of a high degree of difficulty. He put the chance wide left of the post, but it was enough of a warning shot for England not to turn off.

That warning wasn't heeded. In the 109th minute, Perisic's glancing backward header played Mandzukic in on goal, and he whipped home a left-footed chance from close range to make it 2-1 and give Croatia its first lead.

England's task got tougher in the 117th minute, when Trippier had to be helped off the field with an injury. With the Three Lions out of substitutes, they had to complete the match with 10 men, and they couldn't come up with the play necessary to push it to penalties.

It's Croatia headed to the final vs. France, while England will face Belgium for a second time, doing so in the third-place match in Saint Petersburg.


Here were the lineups for both teams:


Here are the rosters for both sides:

CROATIA

Goalkeepers: Lovre Kalinic (Dinamo Zagreb), Dominik Livakovic (Gent), Danijel Subasic (Monaco)

Defenders: Duje Caleta-Car (Red Bull Salzburg); Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow), Tin Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool), Josip Pivaric (Dynamo Kiev), Ivan Strinic (AC Milan), Domagoj Vida (Besiktas), Sime Vrsajlko (Atletico Madrid)

Midfielders: Milan Badelj (Fiorentina), Filip Bradaric (Rijeka), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter), Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona)

Forwards: Nikola Kalinic (Milan), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim), Mario Mandzukic (Juventus), Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan), Marko Pjaca (Juventus), Ante Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Manager: Zlatko Dalic

ENGLAND

Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley)

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham), Danny Rose (Tottenham), Ashley Young (Manchester United), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), John Stones (Manchester City), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Phil Jones (Manchester United)

Midfielders: Eric Dier (Tottenham), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea), Dele Alli (Tottenham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)

Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal)

Manager: Gareth Southgate

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