World Cup: Croatia v England

Gareth Southgate's men are just one game away from a World Cup final. Can it happen?

Ruaidhrí Croke Wed, Jul 11
LIVE: World Cup: Croatia v England

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  • 18:01

    Hello, good evening and welcome! Yes, this is not a dream/nightmare (depending on your persuasion) England actually are just one game away from the World Cup final.

    Croatia are the opposition in Moscow and Gareth Southgate's side are full of confidence that they can set up a showdown with France back at the Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday.

    My name is Ruaidhrí Croke and I will be with you for the evening to see if football takes another step on its journey home or if it is derailed altogether by the slick Croatians. You can get involved by using the 'Contact Us' button at the top of the blog or you can get me on Twitter @Ruaidhri_Croke.

    Team news and build-up on the way!

  • 18:06

    So, here we go.

    The teams are in and England make no changes from the side that beat Sweden 2-0 in the quarter-finals. Jordan Henderson has been deemed fit and he slots in to the midfield to deal with Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic in those checked jersey.

    For Croatia, Domagoj Vida retains his place despite being "sanctioned" for posting a 'Glory to Ukraine' message after the Croats' win over Russis last Saturday, a game in which the defender scored their second goal.

    Croatia:  Subasic, Vrsaljko, Strinic, Vida, Perisic, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric, Brozovic, Mandzukic, Rebic.

    England:  Pickford, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Lingard, Henderson, Sterling, Trippier, Young, Alli, Kane.

  • 18:19

    “We came here to enjoy our football and we’ve made several pieces of history already: our biggest win in the tournament, our first knockout win for 12 years, our first quarter‑final win for even longer. We keep looking to break the barriers down. It’s been an enjoyable journey. We want to keep it going.”

    Those were the words of Gareth Southgate in his pre-match press conference yesterday. Calm and measured as usual. Breaking down barriers has been a huge feature of this England campaign, both on the pitch and off the pitch in ways such as darts and pool tournaments with journalists.

    Will the next barrier be the World Cup final?  

  • 18:28

    Con Houlihan once said, after Italia 90, that he missed the World Cup "because he was in Italy".

    In a similar vein, our man in Moscow - Ken Early - has been writing about how the atmosphere in the Russian capital has been almost sedate compared to the stories and videos emerging from England which reached another level last Saturday when cars - including a NHS ambulance - were among the things that got in the way of England fans' chaotic celebrations.

    Ken Early: Gareth Southgate becomes the new Churchill as England dreams

  • 18:39

    Croatia have certainly been pushed to the pin of their collar in getting here with both of their knockout games - against Denmark and Russia - going to extra-time and penalties. That may just give England an edge in stamina tonight, particularly considering their win over Sweden on Saturday was hardly the most taxing game they've ever faced.

    In terms of goals the two teams are quite the opposites with England relying heavily on set pieces (three goals directly from set plays, three indirectly and three penalties) as only two goals have come from open play while Croatia have netted 10 times with just three coming from set pieces.  

    Harry Maguire's head could well prove to be key again this evening.

    Just 20 minutes to go now.

  • 18:43
  • 18:53

    The teams are in the tunnel.

    England are in a World Cup semi-final. I know, I can't come to terms with it either.

  • 18:58

    National anthems done. They reckon there are about 10,000 England fans here and less Croatians.

    Okay, we're ready to go.

  • 19:00
    1 min: England kick off this World Cup semi-final!  (Croatia 0-0 England)
  • 19:01

    2 mins: England, in their traditional white kits, will play from right to left in the first half with Croatia, dressed in black jerseys and shorts with red socks, attack the opposite end.

    An early foul from Jesse Lingard sees him on the end of the first lecture of the evening but no cards are shown.  (Croatia 0-0 England)

  • 19:04

    5 mins: Free kick for England in an excellent position, dead centre and 25 yards from goal.

    It came from a superb touch by Lingard from a high looping ball forward which he then fed to Alli who was fouled on the edge.

    Big chance here. Walker and Trippier stand over it.  (Croatia 0-0 England)

  • 19:05



  • 19:07

    7 mins: Wow.

    What a goal.

    With his right foot Tripper sends a free kick up and over the wall and into the top corner with Subasic nowhere near it to give England the lead.

    Only three England players have scored in a World Cup semi-final: Bobby Charlton, Gary Lineker and Kieran Trippier.

    What a start for England.  (Croatia 0-1 England)

  • 19:09

    9 mins: Corner for Croatia from the right after Young failed to deal with a cross at the back post. Modric to take.

    But Harry Maguire rises to flick it away. That large head of his will play a huge part tonight.  (Croatia 0-1 England)

  • 19:12

    11 mins: The official World Cup Twitter account has just called Trippier 'The Bury Beckham'.

    Okay, that stops now.

    Anyway, back to matters on the pitch. England have settled down very nicely after that goal and are really restricting Croatia in the midfield - it will be interesting to see how long that lasts.  (Croatia 0-1 England)

  • 19:13
    13 mins: England's first corner of the game is delivered by Young and, as usual, finds the head of Maguire but he can't get any decent purchase on it and it flies over the bar.  (Croatia 0-1 England)
  • 19:15

    15 mins: Another England attack, with which Alli finds Trippier out wide, results in a corner after the goalscorer's cross was blocked.

    Trippier again crosses from the right with the corner and, again, it finds the head of Maguire. This time he gets a much better head on it, down towards the bottom right corner but it creeps just wide of the right hand post. That was very close to 0-2.  (Croatia 0-1 England)

  • 19:18
    18 mins: Croatia make what has been a rare foray into the final third but the attack breaks down as a loose Rakitic pass bounces out of play. The Croats look well and truly ruffled here, they haven't settled at all.  (Croatia 0-1 England)
  • 19:19
    20 mins: A long range effort from Perisic flashes wide of Pickford's right post but the goalkeeper easily had it covered.  (Croatia 0-1 England)
  • 19:22

    22 mins: Croatia have come into this a bit more now in the last five minutes or so with Vrsaljko getting down the right and delivering a low cross which was dealt with by Stones.

    England have started so fast you just wonder how long they can keep it going.  (Croatia 0-1 England)

  • 19:23
  • 19:26

    26 mins: Lingard gets in behind down the right and has Alli in support but Strinic does very well to get back and nick it off the Manchester United man.

    From there Croatia look to counter down the right with Rebic but his early cross for Mandzukic is very poor and is easily gathered by Pickford.  (Croatia 0-1 England)

  • 19:27

    28 mins: Lovren hacks down Sterling on the left wing but somehow manages to avoid a booking.  

    Young's delivery is too high even for Maguire and is easily punched away by Subasic.  (Croatia 0-1 England)

  • 19:29

    29 mins: Croatia are really, really ruffled and don't look anything like their usual slick passing selves.

    Rakitic has just misplaced a five yard pass which ran out for a throw-in. It's actually easier to see England getting a second here before Croatia score.  (Croatia 0-1 England)

  • 19:32

    31 mins: What a chance for England!

    Alli's slipped pass down the channel on the left allowed Kane to get in behind the defence, eight yards out and one-on-one with Subasic.

    However, for the first time this tournament his finishing let him down as he shot straight at the Croatia goalkeeper and then smacked the follow-up off the post from a yard out!

    He was given offside in the end but, on second viewing, VAR would almost certainly have allowed the goal.

    What a chance that was.  (Croatia 0-1 England)

  • 19:35
    35 mins: A snapshot from Perisic on the edge of the box is straight at Pickford and he's able to parry it away. Croatia really need to settle and start passing the ball around.  (Croatia 0-1 England)
  • 19:36

    36 mins: Chance for England!

    A long ball forward found Kane with his back to goal who held it up nicely and fed the oncoming Alli on the left.  

    The Spurs man got to the edge of the box, checked back and fed Lingard who was all on his own on the D but he delayed by taking a touch onto his right foot and then hit a tame shot wide of the post on the right.

    This could be 3-0 to England.  (Croatia 0-1 England)

  • 19:39
  • 19:41

    40 mins: Both teams will be happy with half-time at this stage - England need a rest while Croatia need to regroup.

    England really could rue those missed chances from Kane and Lingard, you have to imagien Croatia will wake up at some stage.  (Croatia 0-1 England)

  • 19:43

    43 mins: England are restricting Croatia to frustrated long range efforts - the latest coming from Vrsaljko which is probably still rising into orbit.  

    It's been very disappointing from the Croats so far it must be said.  (Croatia 0-1 England)

  • 19:46

    45 mins: A dodgy moment for England there.

    A hurried clearance from Pickford was sent straight back into the box where Rakitic controlled but he couldn't quite get it down to shoot before Walker muscled in to avert the danger.  (Croatia 0-1 England)

  • 19:46
  • 19:51

    What a half of football that was from England.

    They've shown absolutely no nerves and came storming out of the blocks to put Croatia on the back foot immediately before taking their first chance of the game from that Trippier free-kick.

    You have to imagine the Croats will settle down and get on top at some stage and then it's a case of how well England can deal with that.

    And, if they can't, they are really, really going to rue those missed chances from Kane and Lingard.

  • 20:01

    The teams are back out on the pitch for the second half.

    England are 45 minutes from a World Cup final.

    Strap yourselves in.

  • 20:02
    46 mins: The second half is underway in Moscow!  (Croatia 0-1 England)
  • 20:06

    49 mins: Quiet start to the second half and certainly not like the first few minutes of the first half.

    This will suit England, they would have expected Croatia to come flying out of the blocks.  (Croatia 0-1 England)

  • 20:08
    51 mins: Mandzukic is booked for an elbow on Walker as they contested a header and England can go forward again but Maguire's pass through to Kane is far too heavy and runs out of play.  (Croatia 0-1 England)
  • 20:10
    53 mins: A cross from Rebic on the left is far too long for Perisic and runs harmlessly out of play. Croatia don't look any better so far in this half than they did in the first.  (Croatia 0-1 England)
  • 20:12

    55 mins: Walker is booked for stupidly refusing to give the ball to Croatia after they won a throw-in near the England corner flag.

    From that Croatia work a corner on the left. Rakitic takes but Kane is fouled in the box and England get the free-kick.  (Croatia 0-1 England)

  • 20:15
    57 mins: A half chance for England comes the way of Lingard after Kane knocked down a long ball but Lovren got a block in on the United man's shot. The corner is cleared but Trippier delivers a wicked ball back in across the six yard box but no Lovren got a foot in ahead of Kane's head and Croatia survive.  (Croatia 0-1 England)
  • 20:16
    59 mins: A weak cross from Rebic is wildly swung at by Walker who slices it out for a corner but Pickford rises above everyone else to punch the delivery clear and save his teammate.  (Croatia 0-1 England)
  • 20:18
    61 mins: An attempted half-volley from Rakitic off a breaking ball on the edge of the box comes off the side of his foot and spins way wide.  (Croatia 0-1 England)
  • 20:19
  • 20:21

    64 mins: Penalty appeal for England!

    A beautiful ball down the channel from Trippier found Sterling who was dashing into the box. He feinted left and then right and went past Vida but the Croatian man stuck his foot in and brought him down.

    On second viewing it looks to me to be a clear penalty but it doesn't seem to have gone to VAR. Very strange.  (Croatia 0-1 England)

  • 20:23

    66 mins: Chance for Croatia!

    A cross from Strinic on the right was only half cleared and landed at the feet of Perisic who fired a volley goalwards but Walker threw himself in front of it to block and save England.

    That was close.  (Croatia 0-1 England)

  • 20:25



  • 20:27

    70 mins: What a cross and what a finish.

    From the right Vrsaljko delivered a superb dipping cross, laden with pace and just asking to be finished and it duly was by Perisic who came barelling from the back post across Walker to divert it goalwards with the outside of his left foot while in mid-air.

    Brilliant goal and this game is right back up in the air now.  (Croatia 1-1 England)

  • 20:31

    72 mins: Croatia hit the post!

    England are absolutely on the rack here and Croatia know it.

    Another Croatian attack is only half cleared by Pickford on the edge of his box and suddenly he's caught way out of his goal with the ball at Perisic's feet. The Inter man declined to attempt the chip and instead beat Walker down the left and fired a low shot across goal which had Pickford beaten all ends up but it cannoned off the post and England stay alive.

    This is breathless stuff now!

    Marcus Rashford has come on for Sterling.  (Croatia 1-1 England)

  • 20:34

    77 mins: It's attack, after attack, after attack from Croatia now and most of them are coming down the right. A low cross from Vrsaljko found Perisic who laid it on again for Rakitic but England get bodies in the way.

    From England looking quite comfortable and Croatia looking at sixes and sevens it suddenly looks like Southgate's men are desperate for extra-time.  (Croatia 1-1 England)

  • 20:35
  • 20:39

    80 mins: Almost a disaster for Trippier!

    Heading towards his own goal he tried to roll it back to Pickford but his pass was way short and almost allowed Perisic in but Stones manged to get a touch on the slide to help it back to the goalkeeper who clears.

    England breathe again.  (Croatia 1-1 England)

  • 20:41

    84 mins: Chance for Croatia!

    A beautiful chipped pass over the top of the England defence from Brozovic finds Mandzukic on the diagonal. The Juventus striker controls on the chest and volleys on the turn but Pickford palms it out. Not very well palmed but it's cleared and England survive. Again.  (Croatia 1-1 England)

  • 20:43
    86 mins: Rashford is lurking on the shoulder of the very last Croatian defender at all times. If they can just get him away once...  (Croatia 1-1 England)
  • 20:47
    89 mins: The helter skelter nature of this second half has settled down a little now. Perhaps both teams are happy with extra-time but Croatia are dictating for this whole second half.  (Croatia 1-1 England)
  • 20:48

    90 mins: Three minutes added time and England have a free-kick in a super position on the right.

    Step forward Harry Maguire...  (Croatia 1-1 England)

  • 20:49

    90+2 mins: Trippier's cross finds the head of Harry eile (Kane, that is) at the back post but his header is very poor and bounces wide.

    Extra-time on the way methinks.  (Croatia 1-1 England)

  • 20:50


    We are going to extra-time.

  • 20:53

    Croatia were by far the better team in that second half and came within inches of a winner but England have defended stoutly and deserve extra-time.

    This is too hard to call.

  • 20:56

    91 mins: We are underway in extra-time!

    Danny Rose has replaced Young for England.  (Croatia 1-1 England)

  • 20:57
    Sam Stoned Croatia's finishing is dreadful. Should have scored at least 3 goals. England appear exhausted --sweating and panting; now revealed as a bunch of incompetents.
  • 20:58

    93 mins: Just two really bad teams in this World Cup semi-final then, I suppose.

    Young looked absolutely out on his feet and Rose will offer more pace down that wing for England.  (Croatia 1-1 England)

  • 21:00

    94 mins: It's a slow start to this first period of extra-time. Strinic has just gone down injured for Croatia and is replaced by Pivaric.

    We could very well be looking at penalties in this one.  (Croatia 1-1 England)

  • 21:02
    96 mins: Rebic is booked for a late tackle on Rose who was tearing towards the Croatian defence. England have a free-kick in a decent position in the Croatian half but it may be just a little too central.  (Croatia 1-1 England)
  • 21:03

    97 mins: Trippier lobs one in towards Maguire but Croatia get a free-kick after Henderson fouled Mandzukic.

    And that is Henderson's last action as he makes way for Eric Dier.  (Croatia 1-1 England)

  • 21:04

    98 mins: England are the only team showing a bit of attacking intent in this half so far and it's resulted in a corner after Dier's long range shot was blocked.

    Trippier will take from the right...  (Croatia 1-1 England)

  • 21:06

    99 mins: Chance for England!

    Trippier's delivery finds the head of Stones who found himself completely free at the front post and rose to power a head towards goal. It was bound for the top corner but Vrsaljko rose to head it away on the line!

    That's the value of men on the post.  (Croatia 1-1 England)

  • 21:07

    101 mins: Free kick for Croatia on the right wing and inside England's half after a late tackle from Rashford.

    Rebic gives way to Kramaric.  (Croatia 1-1 England)

  • 21:09

    103 mins: Rose has been a real bright spark for England since coming on and his cross from the left was bound for the head of Rashford but Lovren did very well to get back and head clear.

    The time is ticking ever closer to penalties...  (Croatia 1-1 England)

  • 21:14

    105+2 mins: What a save Pickford!

    That looked to be a certain goal for Croatia as Perisic delivered a superb low cross from the left between the last line of defenders and the goalkeeper.

    Mandzukic was flying in and looked set to tap home but Pickford came flying out to block down the shot on the edge of his six-yard pox with his right shin! The 24-year-old has saved England again but Croatia have a corner...  (Croatia 1-1 England)

  • 21:15
    105+3 mins: And it comes to nothing.  (Croatia 1-1 England)
  • 21:15
  • 21:18
    106 mins: The second half of extra-time is underway!  (Croatia 1-1 England)
  • 21:19
    107 mins: Corner for Croatia on the left after some good work from Perisic.  (Croatia 1-1 England)
  • 21:21

    109 mins: Chance for Croatia!

    Modric sees Brozovic steaming into the box with Lingard well behind after totally losing him. The Real Madrid man fed his team mate with a low pass but Brozovic's first time shot flew over the bar!  (Croatia 1-1 England)

  • 21:21



  • 21:24

    111 mins: Oh, England.

    They completely went to sleep there.

    A poor cross from Brozovic was cleared by Walker but it went high into the air. Perisic rose high on the corner of the box to flick on what seemed like a harmless header but Stones was so slow to react and Mandzukic was able to steal in ahead of him and convert past Pickford from the edge of the six-yard box.

    England have less than 10 minutes to save their World Cup dreams.  (Croatia 2-1 England)

  • 21:24
    113 mins: Vardy has come on to replace Walker as England go for this now.  (Croatia 2-1 England)
  • 21:26

    114 mins: A chipped ball forward from Rashford is just a little to high for the head of Alli and Subasic can come out to claim.

    England will be absolutely kicking themselves over that goal which was so avoidable. But full credit to Mandzukic. After 109 minutes he reacted like lightning and fired home. That is world class.  (Croatia 2-1 England)

  • 21:27
    115 mins: Vedran Corluka has come off the bench to replace Mandzukic.  (Croatia 2-1 England)
  • 21:29
    116 mins: Pickford lumps it forward, Corluka clears. England have it back.  (Croatia 2-1 England)
  • 21:29

    117 mins: Alli is fouled on the left wing and England have a free-kick in a great position...  (Croatia 2-1 England)

  • 21:31

    118 mins: That was a terrible ball.

    It was aimed towards Maguire but it was too high and it was floated with no whip on it. Lovren rose above the England defender and got a flick to direct it out behind but the referee gives a goal kick!

    England have been robbed there.

    Meanwhile, England are down to 10-men now after Trippier went off injured and they have used all their subs. Last roll of the dice...  (Croatia 2-1 England)

  • 21:33

    120 mins: There will be four minutes of added time.

    Four minutes for England to save their World Cup dreams.  (Croatia 2-1 England)

  • 21:34
    120+1 mins: England have a free kick but it's well inside their own half.  (Croatia 2-1 England)
  • 21:35
    120+2 mins: It goes all the way through to Subasic who catches. The time is almost up on England.  (Croatia 2-1 England)
  • 21:36

    120+4 mins: England have a free-kick on the left in a great position.

    This is it. This is the very last chance.  (Croatia 2-1 England)

  • 21:37
    120+5 mins: It's cleared.  (Croatia 2-1 England)
  • 21:38


    Croatia will play France in the World Cup final on Sunday.  

    England will play Belgium in the third place playoff on Saturday.

  • 21:44

    So that's that. Football is not coming home.

    Croatia are going to their first ever World Cup final and, on the whole, they deserved it.

    England were by far the better team in the first half but seemed to sit back and perhaps tire a little in the second as Croatia got on top. They equalised and then very nearly won it and, in the end, it was probably the tiredness that was England to fall asleep for the winner and you can't fall asleep when Mario Mandzukic is lurking.

    The World Cup dream is over for England but they've set a template here for how English teams can work in the future.

    Croatia and France will make for a great final.