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Super Mario Mandzukic strikes in extra time to send Croatia to first ever final

CROATIA 2 (Perisic 68’, Mandzukic 109’)
ENGLAND 1 (Trippier 5’)

By Daniel Heinrich

A goal in the 20th minute of extra-time by striker Mario Mandzukic has put Croatia through to its first ever World Cup final after a 2-1 victory over England.

Croatia will now meet France in the final and have got there the hard way with all three of its knockout stage victories coming after extra-time and penalty shootouts.

England dominated from the start and were up 1-0 in just the fifth minute.

Croatian captain Luka Modric fouled Dele Alli on the edge of the box, and Kieran Trippier stepped up to curl his free kick over the wall and beyond keeper Danijel Subasic into the top right corner of the net.

But for all the possession and field position England enjoyed throughout the first half, they couldn’t capitalise further and Tripper’s goal ended up being the side’s only shot on target in the entire match.

The momentum changed in the second half, which was reflected when Ivan Perisic equalised in the 68th minute for Croatia.

A cross by Sime Vrsaljko from the right touchline picked out Perisic in the England penalty area and his left-foot strike rocketed past Jordan Pickford in the England goal.

There were appeals by England for a dangerous raised boot by Perisic, however the goal stood.

Croatia took control of the match after the equaliser. Late in the second half, Perisic hit the post and Mandzukic was denied by the knee of Pickford.

The Croats took their second half form into the extra-time period, with Perisic and Mandzukic linking up together for the match winner which came 10 minutes from the end.

The goal came off the back of a poor clearance by England, which Perisic headed back into the England penalty area, finding Mandzukic in open space who buried his left foot shot into the back of the net from six yards.

The result ends England’s campaign for a first World Cup victory since 1966 and they must now lift themselves for the third place play-off against Belgium on Sunday morning (AEST).

Croatia’s date with destiny in the final against France is on Monday morning in Moscow.

Match Statistics

Croatia: 54%
England: 46%

Shot Attempts (On Target):
Croatia: 22 (7)
England: 11 (1)

Croatia: 8
England: 4

Fouls Committed (Cards):
Croatia: 23 (2 Yellow)
England: 14 (1 Yellow)

Team Line-ups

Croatia (4-2-3-1): 23 Subasic (GK), 2 Vrsaljko, 6 Lovren, 21 Vida, 3 Strinic (95), 7 Rakitic, 11 Brozovic, 18 Rebic (101), 10 Modric (C) (119), 4 Perisic, 17 Mandzukic (115).
Substitutes Used: 22 Pivaric (95), 9 Kramaric (101), 5 Corluka (115), 19 Badelj (119).

England (3-5-2): 1 Pickford (GK), 2 Walker (112), 5 Stones, 6 Maguire, 12 Trippier, 20 Dele, 8 Henderson (97), 7 Lingard, 18 Young (91), 10 Sterling (74), 9 Kane (C).
Substitutes Used: 19 Rashford (74), 3 Rose (91), 4 Dier (97), 11 Vardy (112).

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