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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.

This was a night when the opportunity slipped through the fingers of Southgate’s side, out manoeuvred and eventually picked off by a side who had the tournament ringcraft England lacked.Even so, England were dominant in the first half and then gradually pushed back by the will of a Croatia team driven on by Luka Modric who adjusted to the challenges with all the shrewdness that you might expect.

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.

Appointed by CAF President Dr.Ahmad as CAF Media Expert. An expert on African football with over 13 years experience ,always with an ear to the ground with indepth knowledge of the game. I have worked for top publications including 7 years at until i founded to quench the thirst of football lovers across the continent. I have trained young upcoming journalists who are now a voice in African football.I have covered World Cup,AFCON,CHAN,Champions League,Confederations Cup,Cecafa,Cosafa,Wafu and many other football tournaments across the World. Founder Football Africa Arena(FAA),Founder

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