Dalic: We were the better team

Croatia boss Zlatko Dalic felt his side played their best game of the World Cup in the 2-1 semi-final victory over England where they came from a goal down to win.

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Kieran Trippier had opened the scoring on just five minutes through a superbly taken free-kick at the Luzhniki Stadium but Ivan Perisic stole in on 68 minutes to send the tie into extra-time.

Mario Mandzukic then won the match for Croatia when he struck with 109 minutes on the clock.

After the game, Dalic explained his side’s comeback by saying: “Because we were the better team in all segments of the game.

“We did not underestimate them. We respected them because we analysed them. We knew what they were doing and where.

“We played a high press on their backline. We closed down (John) Stones and (Jordan) Henderson. We nullified them.”

Dalic’s side will now play France in their first ever World Cup appearance. He added: “We let the centre-halves play. (Luka) Modric and (Ivan) Rakitic pressed their backline and we had the ball possession.

“During half-time, I told the players ‘calmly pass the ball, do not lose your heads’. We showed that we were the better team in all segments of the game.

“I think this was our best game. We played today better than against Argentina.”

Looking ahead to Sunday’s final, the manager concluded: “There is no weakness in a team which is in the final. They are a top-drawer team with fantastic players.

“But we are going to discuss France tomorrow. We’re taking it step by step. We’ve entered the final today. We’re going to celebrate, to rest and then we will prepare for France.

“We’re facing another daunting task but it’s going to be a fantastic match. We are ready for it. I am sure everybody will enjoy watching that match. I have huge respect for France.”

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