Croatia reach first-ever World Cup final

Croatia came from an early goal down to beat England 2-1 at the Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday and book their place in the World Cup final for the first time.

  • Croatia 2 England 1
  • Trippier (5′) curls home free-kick
  • Kane (30′) denied by Subasic at close range
  • Perisic (68′) converts Vrsaljko cross
  • Perisic (72′) hits the woodwork
  • Mandzukic (109′) scores late winner

CLICK HERE for the FIFA World Cup match centre

Match Summary

Zlatko Dalic’s side were stunned early on in Moscow when Kieran Trippier opened the scoring with a fifth-minute free-kick to put the Three Lions in the driving seat during the first half.

However, the Blazers stepped up their game after the restart and equalised through Ivan Perisic, who also hit the woodwork, before Mario Mandzukic completed the comeback win in extra-time.

Full Report

England made a dream start after Luka Modric fouled Dele Alli just outside the area in the fourth minute, with Trippier curling a free-kick over the wall to beat Danijel Subasic at his left post from 21 yards out.

Croatia just couldn’t get going in the first half and were limited to attempts from outside the box, as the Three Lions looked well organised at the back.

After Harry Maguire directed a downward header wide of the right post from a 14th-minute corner, the Blazers threatened for the first time on 19 minutes as Perisic received a cross-field pass from Luka Modric and cut inside from the left before seeing his low shot from 25 yards out deflected wide of the left post by Kyle Walker.

Perisic had a pop from further out four minutes later after collecting Mandzukic’s cushioned header, but his volley sailed well over the crossbar before Subasic came to his country’s rescue on the half-hour mark.

Good build-up play in the final third led to Jesse Lingard slipping in Harry Kane on the left, but Subasic was on hand to block his strike from seven yards out.

A mistake from Maguire moments later almost let in Ante Rebic, who picked up the defender’s poor clearance and drilled a shot straight at a grateful Jordan Pickford from 19 yards out.

Lingard failed to even test Subasic on 36 minutes as he curled an effort wide of the right post from 19 yards out after being spotted in space by Alli, while Sime Vrsaljko blazed high and wide of the target from 25 yards out when space opened up on the right two minutes before half-time.

The tempo shifted in the second half as the Croatians posed a far greater threat to put the opposition defence under increasing pressure. It finally told on 68 minutes as Perisic beat Walker to Vrsaljko’s cross from the right and slotted past Pickford with a high boot.

The Inter Milan winger was a fraction away from scoring again four minutes later when he pounced on another error from the English defence and hit the base of the right post with a low strike from eight yards out on the left.

Mandzukic forced Pickford into a sharp save with a fierce shot from an angle on the right seven minutes from time, before a weak punch by the England keeper moments later fell for Perisic, who lifted the ball over the bar from inside the area on the left.

Kane was presented with a late chance to win it in regulation time, but he glanced a downward header wide at the back post from a free-kick on the right in stoppage time.

Vrsaljko was well placed to clear a bullet header from John Stones off the line on 99 minutes, while pulled off a brave save at point-blank range to deny Mandzukic from Perisic’s cross on the left six minutes later.

But the Juventus striker finally got the better of Pickford in the 109th minute as he latched onto a looping header from Perisic and fired across the Everton keeper from close range on the left.

Pickford was called into action again on 115thย minute when he gathered Marcelo Brozovic’s dipping strike from 22 yards out at the second attempt following a short corner, but time ran out as Croatia made history.

Comments