Croatia become smallest nation to reach World Cup final since 1950

12 July, 2018, 04:53 | Author: Anita Tucker
  • Harry Winks of England is blocked by Linas Klimavicius of Lithuania during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Group F Qualifier between Lithuania and England at LFF Stadium

If Southgate's young side overcome Russian Federation tonight they will face France in the World Cup final next Sunday in Moscow, their first final since 1966.

"I think that we played phenomenal today, and after we conceded the goal we completely outplayed England even though they were saying that we are exhausted, that they are better". It was a insane moment, they were delighted.

"He's captained the team brilliantly throughout this tournament and I can't ask more of him as a captain or as a man over the last three weeks".

Now, finally, there is a team ready to join them in Croatian football's pantheon of heroes.

"If we'd got that goal before half-time or in the first 15 minutes of the second half you might have the opportunity to win the game".

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In the end, neither Croatia nor England was expected to make it this deep into the tournament, but here they are and France is waiting.

Gareth Southgate's emerging side were 45 minutes away from England's most significant game in 52 years as the voices of their supporters rose in an expectant roar inside the vast Luzhniki Stadium.

After joining Federation Internationale de Football Association in 1992 and then UEFA in 1993 following the break up of Yugoslavia, Croatia made an instant impact at their first World Cup finals when they reached the 1998 semi-finals.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at Croatia's route to the showpiece event.

Of course, the statistics don't give a true reflection of the challenges involved in a World Cup run, which can be affected by player availability, refereeing decisions, weather, and of course luck.

Croatia captain Luka Modric conceded a free kick with a clumsy challenge on Dele Alli and Kieran Trippier superbly curled home the set piece for his first worldwide goal.

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"It was a fantastic journey, we got further than anyone thought we could, we've just got to learn from it. What the lads played tonight was fantasy, they've made history", Dalic said.

"I think they have a good mentality in the team, team spirit which is very important for a tournament".

Police have appealed for calm after trouble following the England versus Sweden World Cup quarter-final match on Saturday. "I'm heartbroken. How long do we have to wait for the next chance?"

And fans said they believed the key to success was the youthful team's work ethic and pride.

Another Subasic save, from Fedor Smolov, and a miss from Fernandes during the shoot-out saw the hosts knocked out and Croatia progress to only their second World Cup semi-final.

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