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Croatia reach World Cup final as England pain goes on

12 Juillet 2018

"So we can hold our heads up high but of course we know it's an opportunity that on another day we could have done even more", he added.

Croatia and Real Madrid superstar Luka Modric slammed the English media after he helped his nation beat Gareth Southgate's Three Lions 2-1 after extra time in the second semi-final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Wednesday.

England players were inconsolable at the final whistle as it began to sink in that the World Cup was not "coming home" and Balotelli appeared to revel in their misery.

"We probably needed that second goal earlier in the game". There's nothing better, when people are writing you off and saying "you're not fit to wear the shirt", slagging people off, it's kind of saying: 'Well, there you go - have that back at you.' But we do it for ourselves as well.

"I suddenly kept seeing a line of five across the back line where before the wing-backs were pushed up".

Trippier's set piece on five minutes was England's 12th at Russian Federation 2018, more than any other Three Lions side.

I'm hugely proud of what we've done - I couldn't have asked for any more.

"It was like a default setting". The 2018 vintage will get their chance to avenge that loss but they had been pushed to the limit with all three of their knockout games going into extra-time.

A case for Delph and Dier?

Shortly after Ivan Perisic's equaliser and with England firmly on the back foot, Gareth Southgate looked to freshen things up by withdrawing Sterling and sending in Marcus Rashford in the hope that the 20-year-old could expose Lovren and Vida's exhausted legs. The sound was eclipsed only by the joy that greeted Mario Mandzukic's extra-time victor and the impromptu fireworks celebration in the wake of the final whistle.

Should Gareth Southgate have turned to his substitutes sooner?

Jacque Talbot is a journalist and sports writer at SPORTbible.

"With hindsight, that might have worked, it might have not".

"As the game went on and opened up there was more space for him".

"I think in the first half, we were really good and we maybe could've got another and in periods throughout the game we had chances".

Talk about the potential rule loophole started after Portugal's Jose Fonte strangely chose to stay in the field of play while the rest of his team celebrated Cristiano Ronaldo's equaliser against Spain off the pitch. "But Southgate stuck with a game plan and came within almost 20 minutes of working". The country still has not made it to the final since 1966, the only time that England won the tournament.

Croatia reach World Cup final as England pain goes on