Exhausted Croatia trains sights on France in final

Annette Crawford
July 15, 2018

When things clicked for Croatia they had the quality of Modric and Rakitic, who finally began to dictate the tempo and flow of the game as many had expected they would.

The Three Lions were aiming to reach their first World Cup final since 1966 but suffered a 2-1 loss to Croatia, with Mario Mandzukic scoring the victor in extra-time.

A former midfielder, Dalic repeated his claim that Croatia's progress to Russian Federation 2018's final was "a miracle" considering the country's population of just over four million people, its young but troubled history and the relative poverty of its domestic football infrastructure. Building a far easier and more open relationship between team and media, he told the players not to fear the headlines and instead write their own history.

"This is fantastic. Two players played with half a leg, but it didn't show". Southgate's defence broke down and did so again in extra-time. "Nobody gave up", said Dalic.

Only a few months ago, many fans who had witnessed England's turgid embarrassments at the last four big tournaments were telling us: "No one cares about England".

However, as much as we'd love it to be true, the match official didn't go all Graham Poll on us.

They were the underdogs heading into Wednesday's semi-final against England and got off to the worst possible start when Kieran Trippier smashed home a free-kick.

Perhaps Modric saw some predict that England would win the semi-final.

One would have thought that such an early goal would herald some good football from England but it proved counterproductive.

But he reserved more praise for England, saying: "The players and the squad, everybody involved in the World Cup, have a reason to come back home with pride after giving everything and making the country proud". Can their exhausted legs turn it on one more time on Sunday to make Croatia the ninth nation to lift the World Cup?

Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper believes England have "moved forward into a brighter age". And there was no humiliation, no daylight robbery: England were fairly but narrowly outlasted in extra time by a nation with that little bit extra about them. "No country on earth would call that anything other than improvement".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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