England are out of Russia 2018, beaten in extra-time by Mario Mandzukic’s goal that broke the hearts of many fans who belived “football was coming home”.
England succumbed to that miraculous sporting nation of just 4.1 million souls, Croatia, who will play France in the World Cup final on Sunday.
He will have known that there were chances for England, in the lead after four minutes through Kieran Trippier, to kill Croatia’s dream before the referee blew for half-time – and that England had failed to take them.
Mandzukic’s goal, poached in the fourth minute of the second period of extra-time, was that tiny margin that decides careers – a header lost by Trippier to Ivan Perisic, who had scored the equaliser, and then the Juventus striker lashing a shot past Jordan Pickford.
England sent on Marcus Rashford and then later Jamie Vardy but they could not recreate the chances that had passed them by in such a bright and confident first half. It has been a tournament that has opened the eyes to what is possible – penalty shoot-out victories.At the end Croatia were victorious going through to their first ever World Cup final.