'We left everything out there', says England manager Southgate

  • 'We left everything out there', says England manager Southgate

'We left everything out there', says England manager Southgate

England wing-back Kieran Trippier had opened the scoring from a brilliant free kick in just the fifth minute, curling the ball over the Croatia wall and into the top right-hand corner.

The break refreshed the Croatians and they started the second half with greater energy and objective and, at that stage, Southgate missed the chance to make the change that would enable England to regain control of midfield.

The quarter-final against Sweden saw England triumph with a relatively comfortable 2-0 win over Sweden, setting up Wednesday's semi-final against Croatia.

Hazard shone at times but Kevin De Bruyne was quiet and Manchester United striker Lukaku was a shadow of the player he had been earlier in the tournament, even though Belgium enjoyed most of the possession.

Many people in England assumed Southgate's men would comfortably brush Croatia to one side before taking on France in Sunday's final. Luka Modric, who looked exhausted for much of the game, still ended up as the conductor for Croatia.

But it was Croatia who struck in the 109th minute when Perisic won a header on the edge of the box and the ball dropped for Mandzukic whose firm low finish beat Pickford. "We'll look at the goals and the chances, but over the six or seven weeks we've been together, we couldn't have given more than we had". Pickford rushed off his line and stuck out his right leg to block Mandzukic's poke-in attempt of Perisic's cross near the end of the first extra-time period.

The Three Lions fully deserved their first half lead and the only disappointing aspect was that they didn't go into the interval further ahead.

Croatia's dream continues into Sunday's final against France.

It was England's best performance at a major tournament since Southgate was part of the team that reached the semi-finals at Euro '96. Croatia will be coming off its third straight extra-time match and is the first team in 28 years to come from behind to win a World Cup semifinal.

Trippier nearly became a hero by scoring the opening goal with a sublime free-kick before his night turned sour with the late Croatia goals and suffering a groin injury. They scored an hour in, and finally netted the winning second goal in extra time.

After a goalless first 15 minutes of extra-time, and penalties looking like a big possibility, it was Croatia that ended England's dream of World Cup glory when Mario Mandzukic crept it at the far post to fire home what would ultimately be the victor.