Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
Sport | By Joe Gonzales

Mandzukic sends steely Croatia into first World Cup final

Mandzukic sends steely Croatia into first World Cup final

But Ivan Perisic equalised in the second half, and Mario Mandzukic scored the winning goal in the extra time, to book them a date with France in the final.

Croatia could hardly believe it after Mario Mandzukic found the back of the net in extra time to defeat England in the Fifa World Cup semifinals.

In the immediate aftermath of last night's World Cup semi-final win against England, Croatia's Zlatko Dalic was fairly magnanimous in victory.

20 years since France ended their dreams in Paris, Croatia will have a chance for revenge against Les Blues after they booked a place in the World Cup final by out knocking England in a griping semi-final at the Luzhniki Stadium. It wasn't easy, but I think we were physically ready.

RTÉ have released their viewing figures for the game and they were massive - an average audience of 924,300 people watched the match with the peak figure reaching 1.12m.

Federation Internationale de Football Association announced on Thursday there had been no positive drugs tests during the World Cup - again.

The Real Madrid star, who was repeatedly and universally praised in the British media in the build-up to the game, said they should "be more humble and respect opponents more".

England boss Gareth Southgate - on the day that was dubbed Waistcoat Wednesday in his honour back home - named an unchanged side to face Croatia, while Zlatko Dalić surprisingly made just one change from the side that beat Russian Federation on penalties in the quarter-final, bringing in midfield Marcelo Brozović for striker Andrej Kramarić.

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Some rumours have been flying around that Croatia could be disqualified from the tournament, but this appears to be Three Lions fans clutching at straws after their extra time defeat.

England had got off to a flying start when Trippier curled a superb free kick into the top corner in the opening minutes.

How do they make sure that this is not a beguiling high, especially when aspirations just grew with England's passage to only their third tournament semi-final since 1966?

Our boys did us proud during this World Cup, playing like a proper team and proper gents.

Modric said: "We should have killed the game even before extra time".

If public relations won the World Cup, England might be champions.

"We created some good chances when we were 1-0 up, maybe we dropped a little too deep but we didn't get enough pressure on the ball".

"I feel represented by these players, they have given everything and have given the country a great image, we lacked a bit tonight but Croatia are a great team", says Dale from Nottingham.

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