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HEARTBREAK ALL OVER AGAIN AS ENGLAND LOSE WORLD CUP SEMI-FINAL


England's bid to reach a first World Cup final since 1966 came to an agonising end as they lost in extra time to Croatia in Moscow, BBC reported.

Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic scored the winning goal in the 109th minute of the semi-final, slotting in from Ivan Perisic's flick-on into the area.

Gareth Southgate's side - playing England's first semi-final since they were beaten on a penalties by West Germany at Italia 90 - were given the perfect start through Kieran Trippier's 20-yard free-kick after only five minutes, but Perisic's 68th-minute equaliser sent the match into extra time.

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England's players were inconsolable at the final whistle as the dream was snatched away and they can take great pride and credit from this World Cup - but the pain was etched on their faces as well as that of manager Southgate.

Croatia, in sharp contrast, were jubilant and will now face France in the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday.

Unfancied before the competition, England defied expectations by reaching the semi-finals, but were undone by an experienced Croatia side.

Harry Kane's golden touch deserted him when he missed a great chance to double their lead while Jesse Lingard also wasted a chance by shooting wide.

As England allowed their opportunity to slip from their grasp, Croatia grew in confidence.

England lost momentum after the break and were punished when Perisic stole in ahead of Kyle Walker for an athletic finish.

Croatia, with Luka Modric the orchestrator, had taken control as England faded, Perisic hitting the post and Jordan Pickford saving magnificently from Mandzukic, before the winger made the decisive contribution with 11 minutes of extra time left.

The 32-year-old reacted quicker than John Stones in the area to beat Pickford - and England had nothing left to give.

England will now play Belgium in Saturday's third/fourth place play-off in St Petersburg.

Culled from BBC

My view: The players and manager Gareth Southgate have made the UK proud, great team, don't be sad there's always another day or rather in four years time you'll bring the Cup home. But come to think of it, England had a much younger team and I don't get how Croatia seem to have more energy. Croatia's experience and ball retention was the key. Also England scored a goal, then retreated back into their own half to defend instead of going forward to continue their fast forward attacking football. England caused their own defeat. England need a world class midfielder who could control the tempo of a game, Henderson did very well and worked very hard but when he gets the ball he isn't at the same level of Rakitic and Modric, we would have have won the World Cup, as the players were so close to going through. Finally it's fair to say that England sailed through to the semi finals by avoiding very strong teams and when the players came face to face with two strong teams-Belgium and Croatia, they were beaten, that's experience and mentality to win and not retreat back to defend. Credit to Croatia, they have incredible players and they played very strong teams in their ties, they showed good team spirit, winning mentality and they were fearless.