England’s bid to reach a first World Cup final since 1966 came to an end in the last four as they lost in extra time to Croatia in Moscow.
Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic scored the winning goal in the 109th minute, slotting in from Ivan Perisic’s flick-on into the area.
Perisic’s volley sent the match into extra time after Kieran Trippier had given England a fifth-minute lead with a sublime free-kick.
Unfancied before the competition, Gareth Southgate’s young side defied expectations by reaching the semi-finals, but were undone by an experienced Croatia side.
England, playing in their first World Cup semi-final since 1990, got the perfect start through Trippier’s brilliant free-kick and Croatia were finding it extremely difficult to deal with England’s high-tempo game.
Harry Kane could have doubled the lead but was denied by goalkeeper Danijel Subasic and Jesse Lingard placed a shot wide from a good position.
Croatia grew into the game in the second half and equalised through Perisic, and the Inter Milan winger hit the post with a low drive shortly after.
In extra time John Stones saw a header cleared off the line, while Pickford made a brilliant save from Mandzukic’s close range effort – but the Everton man could do nothing about the winner.
England will now play Belgium in Saturday’s third/fourth place play-off in St Petersburg.
Set-piece specialists – the stats
- England have now been eliminated in four of their five semi-finals at major tournaments, losing each of the last four they have reached (Euro 1968 v Yugoslavia, World Cup 1990 v Germany, Euro 1996 v Germany and World Cup 2018 v Croatia).
- Croatia have qualified for their first ever World Cup final in their fifth appearance at the World Cup finals.
- England have lost three competitive games against Croatia (3) since the turn of the Millennium, more than any against any other nation.
- Mario Mandzukic’s winning goal was the latest goal ever conceded by England in a World Cup match (108 minutes, three seconds).
- Kieran Trippier became the first player to score a direct free-kick for England at the World Cup since David Beckham in 2006 (against Ecuador).
- Ivan Perisic has been involved in 10 goals at major tournaments for Croatia (6 goals, 4 assists), the joint-most, level with Davor Suker (9 goals, 1 assist).
- Trippier’s goal after 4 minutes and 44 seconds was the fastest goal scored in a World Cup semi-final since 1958 (Vava after two minutes for Brazil v France).
- Croatia became the first team to play extra time in three consecutive World Cup matches since England in 1990.
- England scored nine goals from set pieces at the 2018 World Cup – the most by a team in a single World Cup tournament since 1966.
- Four of the five 2018 World Cup matches to go to extra time have involved either England or Croatia (the other was Spain v Russia).
More to follow.