Croatia reach maiden World Cup final

Published: 12 Jul 2018   

Online Desk

2018 FIFA World Cup: Croatia defeated England to book their place in the final against France - Reuters

Croatia defeated England 2-1 in extra-time to reach their first ever World Cup final. They will meet 1998 champions France in the title clash of FIFA World Cup 2018.

It was a massive heartbreak for England, who had taken the lead in the first five minutes. The Three Lions were suddenly in sight of their first World Cup final after 52 years. Between 1966 and 2018, England had reached the semifinals in 1990 but other than that, they had largely disappointed in the most mega event.

Croatia's best run in a World Cup before tonight was a semifinal berth in 1998.

Croatia and England were level at 1-1 after 90 minutes in their World Cup semi-final on Wednesday after Croatia's Ivan Perisic scored in the 68th minute to cancel out Kieran Trippier's early free kick.

Trippier curled the ball in after five minutes to get England off to a flying start but Croatia hit back when Perisic got in front of his marker to flick in a high cross from Sime Vrsaljko in the 68th minute.
As the game moved to extra-time, both teams failed to create chances. There was no change to the scoreline in the first half but Mario Mandzukic reacted quickly to a flick on and he netted it in as Jordan Pickford looked on helplessly in the 109th minute.

England were off to a sensational start in a World Cup semifinal which was right on the edge for most of the 90 minutes. Perisic's 68th minute strike meant the teams went into extra-time not for the first time in the tournament.

Croatia had won both their knockout matches before the semifinals via penalty shootouts. In the round of 16, the Croats had defeated Denmark 3-2 in penalties before overcoming Russia in the quarter-finals 4-3 in a tense penalty shootout.

England had prevailed over Colombia 4-3 via a penalty shootout in their round of 16 match.

It was another high-octane semifinal a day after France defeated Belgium 1-0 at St Petersburg.

Croatia defender Domagoj Vida, who had spoken out in support of Russia's neighbour and adversary Ukraine, was booed by spectators on Wednesday.

After Croatia's quarter-final victory over Russia, a video was posted online showing Vida, a former player with Ukrainian club side Dynamo Kiev, saying "Glory to Ukraine!"

Russia's relations with Ukraine have been fraught since Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014 and backed pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

World soccer's governing body FIFA ruled that Vida's comments were not in keeping with tournament rules about political neutrality.

The booing and whistles rang out each time Vida touched the ball in the semi-final against England, starting about 30 minutes into the first half.

It did not appear to be coming from sections of the stadium where England supporters were concentrated. There were significant numbers of Russians in the stadium.

Source: Reuters  

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