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Mario Mandzukic's extra-time strike completed a battling turnaround as Croatia beat England 2-1 in Moscow to reach the World Cup final for the first time in their history.
England made an electric start with Kieran Trippier's early goal and for a large period of the game looked good value to book their passage to the final for the first time since 1966, but Croatia somehow battled through their apparent jadedness and tamed the Three Lions in extra-time, Mandzukic landing the decisive blow.
Gareth Southgate consistently downplayed the euphoria in his team in the build-up, and for a while, England gave every indication they were going to take charge of their own destiny, as Trippier found the net with a delightful free-kick in the fifth minute.
But Croatia rallied and gave England's back three more of an examination upon the start of the second period, eventually restoring parity – Ivan Perisic providing a clever finish in the 68th minute.
England managed to hang on to force an extra 30 minutes and initially looked the more threatening of the two teams once again in the additional period.
But Croatia kept their focus and Mandzukic struck left-footed in the 109th minute, ending England's dreams for another four years and setting up a final with France on Sunday, as Zlatko Dalic's men move another step closer to a first World Cup title.
120+4 It's wasted! Croatia clear! It's all over! Croatia are in the World Cup final! It's a gut punch for England! So near! Match Report to follow.
120+3- Balhaj, Handball. Last Chance England!
120+1 Long ball from Maguire, Subasic gathers. Oh dear, this does not look good.
119- England have it... four minutes of stoppage time! Come on!
117- Luca Modric is off. Badelj is on.
117- It's just over Harry Maguire.... it should be an England corner after that.
115- Tripper is injured, England are down to ten! Free-kick for England Rashford is over it... Time for Heroes....
113- Croatia is taking their time, and rightly so! They have been superhuman tonight.
111- Jamie Vardy is on, Kyle Walker is on. It's all on for the Three Lions
110- England needs to get it together if they want to keep their World Cup dream alive.
108- Goal Croatia! England falls fall asleep at the back, Walker leaves the ball to Stones and Mandzukic creeps onto it! He fires it past Pickford! Croatia take the lea,d! Oh, my!
106-Rakatic with a short corner, Brozovic's shot slices over. England was sleeping there.
106- Croatia are knocking the ball about... I'm not sure if I can take all this...
Croatia gets us back underway... We are 15 minutes away from penalties!
Peep- Half-Time in Extra-Time Nothing has changed! What a save from Pickford to keep England in it!
105+2 Chance for Croatia! Mandzukic flying towards goal! It's a fantastic save by Pickford! A big, big save from the Everton stopper! Mandzukic is in a pile on the floor after clattering into the Three Lions keeper.
104- Kane comes deep and spays the ball towards Alli, it skips out wide.
102- England have been the better side in extra time... Croatia is looking a little leggy...
101- Rebic, who has been the best player on the pitch for Croatia, for my money is off. Kramaric is on.
100- Rashford slides in on Vrsaljko who takes the free-kick.
98- Chance for England! Stones got plenty on it! His header is bound for the corner, but Vrsaljko clears it from the line. So Close!
98- Immediate impact from Dier with a boomer! It's deflected out for a corner.
97- Henderson is subbed Eric Dier, England's penalty hero is on.
96- Trippier is over it. Maguire is penalised for a tug of the shirt. Free-kick Croatia.
95- Rebic is finally carded with a reducer on Danny Rose. A cynical foul that.
93- Strinic is injured. Pivaric is on in his place. That's Croatia's first sub this evening.
92- First action for Danny Rose, a smart free-kick won from Rebic.
91- You feel that the longer this goes on, the better you feel for England... Croatia have been this distance twice already in the tournament, they must be tired.
Sub- Danny Rose is on for Ashley Young...
90+3 Peep! 1-1 at full-time! We are going to extra time! Oh I don't know how I am going to cope here...
90- Trippier delivers it in! Kane attempts a header, it flashes just wide!
90+1 Rakotic hacks down Rashford... Free-kick time for England.
90- Three minutes of extra time
89- Croatia hold the ball, nervous stuff for England, eventually, the ball finds its way to Dejan Lovren... He fires it out! Good!
88- Mandzukic with a smart flick to Rebic, the winger absolutely hoons the ball out for a throw in on the other side.
86- Kane fires a ball to Lingard, the Man United man can't control it. It's a goal-kick.
85- Strinic on the run, he beats three England players, panic stations! His pass to Perisic slips out of play. Goodness.
83- Pickford in the thick of the action again, he goes for Perisic's header but flaps at it. The ball is back with Perisic, his first-time chip flies well over.
82- Mandzukic chests the ball, and launches a shot towards the goal, Pickford is just about equal to it.
79- It's all a question of who will blink first now. Both sides are defensively tight...
77- England are slowly showing signs of life. Jordan Henderson smashes the ball over...
76- Kane lays it to Lingard who skims it across the box. Any touch on that and was in!
75- England is wobbling here. Composure is needed from the young Lions.
74- Immediate impact from Rashford, his deep cross causes panic in the Croatian ranks.
73- Substitute for England, Rashford is on for Sterling.
72- Corner comes in and flies out. Brozovic shins it over.
71- Oh lord! Peresic has hit the inside of the England post! The Inter man pounces on a England defensive mix-up! Croatia is ramping up the pressure! Corner!
70- The Croatian fans are in full voice! They've ramped up the pressure and got their goal
68- Goal! Vrsaljko curls it from deep! Perisic beats a man and throws a boot at it! Croatia has levelled! 1-1!
67- Trippier clips an intelligent ball to Kane, the angle is against him. It hits the side netting.
63- Chance Croatia! Modric drills the ball into the Box, Stones gets a header away... Perisic shoots! Kyle Walker takes it right in the chopper! Ouch, that's gotta hurt! England clear.
62- Vida panics after pressure from Lingard. England surge into the box with Sterling, he trips under the pressure from Vida but it's not a penalty. The Referee waves away the half-hearted pleas from England.
60- Croatia push forward a hopeful ball is pushed into the box, Trippier dutifully heads it away... Rakotic has a run onto it. His shot is high, wide and not very handsome.
58- Croatia cranking up the pressure, Rabic knocks in a ball into the box. Kyle Walker slices the ball out for a corner, which is punched clear by Pickford.
56- Tripper's corner is returned to him driven across the goal, Kane attempts to get a head to it but Croatia clear their lines.
55- Lingard lets rip from outside the box, Lovern gets a boot to it.
53- The second half has been scrappy... Kyle Walker is upended, no foul to England the ball goes out of play and Walker picks up the ball. Que a scrap. England needs to calm it down.
51- The battle between Rebic & Kyle Walker is getting interesting... Walker snaps into a tackle to clear the ball.
49- Scratch that! Mandzukic is in the book for his remonstrations with the referee. Not Rebic
48- Croatia have stepped it up in the second half, can the Three Lions keep their cool and hold them off?
47- One nasty Challenge too many for Rebic. He goes into the book for an Ariell duel with Walker.
45- Rebic gets into the box, Kyle Walker is on hand to smash it away! Have it!
Peep! Croatia get us underway!
The Scenes in London!
45+1- Peep! Half-Time! England have the lead!
45- Pickford bombs out a pass which goes straight to Rakotic, a tiny bit of control and he's in the box. Kyle Walker recovers and crowds out the Barcelona man.
43- Dele Alli speeds down the left wing. Lovren slides in throw in, England continue to keep possession.
42- Vrsaljko smashes the ball high and wide! Croatia havent really created much to trouble the Three Lions... Yet...
39- Croatia is seeing a little more of the ball, and are getting plenty of stick from the England fans in the Luzniki. Rebic knocks down Ashley Young, not for the first time. Still no yellow for the Croatian striker.
36- Sterling is giving Domagoj Vida a pasting tonight. The Croatian tips the ball out of play and England continue to keep the ball.
35- a Clean chance for England, Kane passes to Alli, who picks out Lingard from outside the box. The curled shot comes to nothing!
32- Perisic knocks the ball across the box. Ashley Young with a vital flick to deny the onrushing Rebic! Close that!
30- Croatia Chance! Modric speeds into the box he calmly gets it to Rebic, his pot-shot is saved by Pickford.
29- England are knocking the ball around with purpose. Kane with the chance, he opens his body up, Subasic saves. The rebound falls to Kane, his shot smashes of the post and the leg of the Croatia keeper, it won't count, it's offside.
27- Subasic comes out with a confident fist. Throw in England.
26- Sterling has started off well here, he picks the ball up in the left wing. Dejan Lovren is in his way... Dangerous free-kick England...
24- Rebic nips the ball off Ashley Young, his cross is comfortably gathered by Pickford. Croatia has seemed to have found their rhythm.
21- Offside! Sterling pounces on a Croatia mistake, he plays through Harry Kane. The Spurs striker is offside. Kane scuffs his shot regardless.
20- Rebic has a pop. Kyle Walker shuts him out with a good block.
18- Perisic winds up and has a shot, it skims wide, the Inter Milan demands for a corner, and the replay shows that it nipped of Kyle Walker, it should really be a corner. Oh well...
17- Croatia are seeing a little more of the ball, Rakotic with a clipped ball to Vrsaljko it's out of play. The England fans cheer!
14- Stearling chases down Vida who just about heads it back. Croatia look for the taking here.
13- Alli to Trippier, his drilled cross is deflected for a corner. Maguire gets a good header to it, it's just wide. England need a second to kill off the contest.
11- Dele Alli wins a corner after a tasty challenge from Brozovic. Maguire arrives to it late! It's out for a goal kick.
10- Rakitic squares it to Lovren, who hoofs the ball out.
8- Young concedes a corner, Modric is over it... Maguire eventually clears the first moment of vulnerability from England.
6- What a time to score your first international goal. Trippier have put the Three Lions ahead, Croatia looks shell-shocked!
5- Goal! What a peach! Trippier with a curler! Oh my lord! What a start! 1-0 England!
3- Modric nibbles at Dele Alli, a dangerous free-kick for the Three Lions.. Trippier is over it...
2- Croatia is knocking the ball around with intent...
Peep! England all in white get us underway! History beckons for these two sides.
Right! Time to ride this vibe with Southgate's young Lions! I'm very nervous! Oft! National Anthem time!
Feeling Nervous? We are nearly 15 minutes away from the game! Kate Mason has some news to calm us down!
Fancy Fanzone vibes with Kate Mason?
Maximum respect to Steffen Freund, he's backing England tonight!
Croatia team news! One change! Marcelo Brozovic comes in for Andrej Kramaric. Brozovic will drop into central midfield, and Luca Modric who has been so impressive during the tournament will be pushed into a number ten role.
Want a live take of the action in Moscow?! Pablo Faggiano has shared some rowdy scenes from the Moscow metro! Both Croatia & England fans are in full voice!
What a fix of Stats before the game? Of course, you do (don't worry these ones won't put you to sleep, honest)
In slightly more serious news FIFA has released a statement on beoutQ, which is very much worth your time. FIFA is looking to prosecute the Saudi Arabian based pirate channel.
We have some team-news! England is unchanged after their 2-0 win over Sweden in the Quarter-finals.
Focused vibes from Gareth Southgate ahead of the game! His young side can make history tonight in Moscow.
Gareth Southgate is getting plenty of plaudits for his strong look, especially his waistcoat. Now, in a new twist it seems like he has a look-a-like in a dramatic 90's twist.
The Express team look back on France and their professional win over Belgium... I wonder who Les Bleus would like in the final?
Hello! Welcome to the Live Updates for Croatia Vs England! It's a huge game going down in the Luzhniki Stadium. Croatia is looking to go one step further than the heroes of 1998. Whilst England are looking to progress to only their second final since 1966, we all know what happened then! Anyway, join me for all the Live Updates & Build up, along with a Live Stream & Highlights of all the action. Strap yourself in!
Croatia & England will meet on Wednesday evening, with a place in the World Cup finals on the line. Both sides had differing quarter-final performances and are now just a game away from the biggest prize in World Football. You can watch the World Cup semi-final between Croatia & England via beIN SPORTS CONNECT.
Croatia went all the way to penalties to knock out hosts Russia, and book their place in the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time since 1998. Tiredness will be the major concern for head coach Zlatko Dalic after his side went to extra time and penalties in both their quarter-final and the round of sixteen games.
Although with a potential World Cup final on the line, you would expect the side which is crammed with talent to step up for the biggest game in the last 20 years for Croatia.
Danijel Subašić could be Vatreni’s secret weapon should it go all the way. The Monaco keeper came up with a number of crucial penalty saves including three against Denmark to book his nation a place in the quarter-finals. Even more impressive was how the 33-year old played through the pain barrier against Russia after injuring his hamstring, eventually saving Fedor Smolov's spot-kick.
Croatia Predicted Team
Subasic; Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic; Rakitic, Brozovic; Rebic, Modric, Perisic; Mandzukic
How to watch Online- beIN SPORTS CONNECT
TV Channel- MAX HD3
Stadium- Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
As for England, they breezed past Sweden 2-0 to seal their first World Cup semi-final appearance since Italia 90. Gareth Southgate’s young Lions put in a mature performance to knock out the Swedes, and never looked particularly nervous in Samara.
After overcoming Colombia in a penalty shootout, the first time England have ever done so in a World Cup. Southgate has encouraged his squad to write their own history. A victory and a visit to their second ever World Cup would certainly do that, whilst simultaneously whipping up a whole nation into a frenzy.
England has a fully fit squad to choose from, and Southgate is likely to keep his faith in the side that did so well against Sweden.
Harry Kane has to lead the group from the front, and now has a great chance of ending the tournament as the golden boot winner. Kane, 24 has scored six goals in the tournament so far including three from the penalty spot. Although it’s not only his goal scoring antics which has defined the Spurs striker in Russia.
It’s also his work when he picks up the ball in tight situations and winning crucial free-kicks for England, couple that with his threat from set-pieces, it arguably makes Kane the best striker in the tournament. Kane was quiet in the victory over Sweden, but the Spurs striker will be looking to add a goal to his tally to fire the Three Lions to World Cup glory.
England Predicted Team
Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire; Trippier, Dele, Henderson, Lingard, Young; Sterling, Kane.
It promises to be a fascinating encounter as Croatia & England battle it out for a place in the final of the World Cup. Watch the Live & Exclusive stream of the game on MAX HD3 & beIN SPORTS CONNECT.