Chasing Croatian football dreams to final of Fifa World Cup 2018

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As England stalled it was Croatia who produced the powerful late surge to win through goals from Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic, showing strength nearly beyond reason given their World Cup exertions.

Dalic's side were clearly exhausted, but they managed to fight on to the end of two hours of gripping football to take the country of just over four million people into the final for the first time.

England's only goal in the game sparked scenes of pandemonium, only to be replaced with eerie silence as Croatia equalised early in the second half and then snatched victory in extra time.

"But, once we were here we really believed we could win the game".


"We had a little less composure with the ball in the second half, and maybe that was a outcome of being ahead with the least experienced team in the finals, with an opportunity to get to a World Cup final". Basically saying what you're saying, which is, in the media we always want to show what's a model for success and we want to be able to explain in rational terms why this positive thing is happening, results-wise, on the field. We played today better than against Argentina.

"To get through three extra times to get to the final tells you a lot about the team they have".

The game seemed destined for penalties in the second half of extra time, that is, until Croatian stalwart Mario Mandzukic slipped behind the English defender John Stones and scored the eventual clincher in the 109th minute of play.

He arrived shortly before kick-off to a joyous scene of free-flowing beer, oversized inflatable footballs bobbing around the crowd - and the now ubiquitous chorus of "Football's coming home".


- What's Croatia's problem with Luka Modric? "Only great teams can be as fearless as we were and fight back from a goal down against teams like England", Mandzukic said. They're playing even better than I expected - getting a score in the first five minutes was cracking. But we aren't going to make excuses.

Croatia now have the chance to take revenge on France after losing 2-1 in Paris when the sides met in the semi-finals back in 1998 - Dalic travelled to that World Cup as a fan.

England fans were left devastated as the nation missed out on a place in the World Cup final.

Dave Mowbray runs the Colliers Arms on Old Lane in Chadderton, and has done for the past 15 years. He is more of a destroyer than a creator, as is his understudy Eric Dier, so Southgate must find a way to support them with a player who can pick a pass and dictate the tempo of a game.


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