Photographer unwittingly becomes part of Croatia World Cup goal celebration

Annette Crawford
July 12, 2018

They find it amusing to routinely give Sterling the lowest mark, when given the chance to rate the England players' performances.

"The more of these tests we can come through, the better, not just for now, but moving forward".

But Croatia spoiled the party at the 2018 World Cup semifinals. Croatia toughed it out in an extra-time thriller against England to reach the final for the first time in their history as an independent country.

But defeat still stings for Gareth Southgate and his overachieving players.

The Three Lions lost 2-1 to Croatia in the semi-final, bringing to an end a journey that inspired - and surprised - many fans.

Few are as accomplished as Croatia, even when they are on the brink of exhaustion following two successive penalty shootouts, and as England ran out of ideas, Luka Modric was able to pick holes in their defensive lines time and again.

In the stadium that can still echo to the memories of the legendary middle distance battles between Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe at Moscow's 1980 Olympics, England stumbled with the finishing tape in sight.

Referencing the 52 years that England have gone since winning the World Cup, The Guardian sport section leads with the image of the moment Mario Mandzukic fired the winning goal beyond Jordan Pickford.

"I just believe we can come back another time, and I hope before I die I see England win the World Cup", Ogunde said.

Southgate is keen to remind people that England's squad was the least experienced in Russian Federation.

Ahead of Sunday's World Cup final, Les Bleus know they'll meet a Croatian side that has played three consecutive extra-time games en route to the final. At the England end, fans stayed singing and congratulating the team for some time after the final whistle.

They will meet a French team which eased past Belgium 1-0 in their semi-finals, and which boasts a population difference of around 62 million people more than Croatia. Suddenly, England looked like the exhausted ones.

Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, left, is beaten by a header from France's Samuel Umtiti for the opening goal during the semifinal match between France and Belgium at the 2018 soccer World Cup in St. Petersburg, Russia on Tuesday.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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