Croatia beats England 2-1 in extra time

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Two nations who have been waiting years to put right the bitter memories of World Cup semi-final defeats will face each other on Wednesday in Moscow with the chance to finally go one step further. They will aim to better the third-place finish achieved by the star-studded squad spearheaded by the legendary Davor Suker at the 1998 edition in France.

Because for all the love this young and dynamic England team has earned - and earn it they did - in taking a country badly in need of some good news on the global stage on an unforgettable ride over the last month, reaching their first World Cup semifinal in nearly 30 years, there's no guarantee they'll get a better chance to play for a major title. "It's just unbelievable to get back in the game in this way".

England could not have imagined a better start.

"But we enjoy to play against big teams, as we showed against Argentina, and have nothing to lose". They topped an extremely hard group that included perennial title contenders Argentina, Iceland and Nigeria.

Croatia will know that history is against them when it comes to games against England, as they have won just two of the seven meetings between the pair.

"We had hoped (for this) and we believed in our team, but the feeling when we finally entered the finals can not be compared to anything", said Ivan Kecerin, 41.

While left-back Ivan Strinic is certain to start, Croatia's preferred right-back Sime Vrsaljko is yet to fully recover from a knee injury suffered during the game against Russian Federation.

Although they saw more of the ball, Dalic's side initially struggled to offer a significant improvement after half-time and England had a penalty shout turned down just after the hour - Domagoj Vida getting a slight touch on the ball before sending Sterling tumbling.

24' - Raheem Sterling has been an absolute handful for the Croatian defense. Croatia within inches of taking the lead.

Playing in a 3-5-2 formation, England are the third youngest team in the tournament and head coach Gareth Southgate has done his utmost to lower the expectations.

Devastated England fans after Croatia scored the winning goal.

"Semi-finals, they've done what they had to do, they took us to the semi-finals".

"There was a spell in the second half when they got the goal and their tails were up, we had to weather the storm".

Gareth Southgate's men continued to look good through the first half, but Harry Kane and Jesse Lingard both spurned chances to increase the lead.

Henderson said the identity Southgate brought to the team had been lacking, and it has enabled them to make this run to the World Cup final four. Ivan Perisic made a strong run in the box and raised his left cleat high to deflect a cross past Jordan Pickford and into the net. Mandzukic is a nightmare to play against, as Harry Maguire, John Stones and Kyle Walker found out.

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