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

Thursday, 12 Jul, 2018

England's hopes of claiming a place in Sunday's final against France faded as a second half goal from Ivan Perisic and an extra time victor from Mario Mandzukic left Gareth Southgate's players shattered, with Keane suggesting the English agony should be laced with pride.

England coach Gareth Southgate had spoken of his young side "breaking down barriers" in Russian Federation after their biggest World Cup win and first penalty shootout triumph, but it was Croatia who forced their way into a relatively closed shop as just the 13th different country to progress to the final in 88 years. While they ultimately fell a little bit short, this young group of players gave us reason to believe that football was coming home and brings much-needed positivity going forward.

This is a tough team to beat, however, and France will have to overcome Croatia's technical ability as well as their remarkable resolve.

The Liverpool defender, who has now reached the finals of the Champions League and the World Cup within two months, said he has proven himself to be one of the world's best defenders.

Croatia's papers celebrated their history-makers - as well as suggesting, like Luka Modric did, that England had underestimated their talents.

For Croatia, first-choice right-back Sime Vrsaljko could miss out with a knee injury suffered in the last round against Russian Federation.

England fans look dejected after the FIFA World Cup, Semi Final match at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow.

Kieran Trippier had given England the lead by scoring from a free kick in the fifth minute.

Vrsaljko, who plays for Atletico Madrid, had struggled to be ready for the match after playing in two previous extra-time matches, but he found the strength to lift his exhausted, battered team to a comeback win.

Despite concerns over a tight hamstring, Jordan Henderson keeps his place in the heart of midfield, along with Alli, and tournament top scorer Harry Kane will be supported by Raheem Sterling and Jesse Lingard up front.

It was England's first goal scored directly from a free-kick at the World Cup since Beckham's victor against Ecuador in 2006, and the team's 12th goal of the competition - surpassing the 11 they netted en route to lifting the trophy 1966.

England can soothe itself with realistic hopes of World Cup success in the near future. We thought we were just good enough, we thought we could have done that.

As did Castlefield, in Manchester, and many towns and cities across England.

The win sent tens of thousands of French people pouring onto the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris in scenes of joy last seen when France won the World Cup two decades ago.

Perisic, who switched between left and right flanks on several occasions during the game, was a constant threat with his pace, direct running and finishing. But then midway through the second half, Croatia struck.

About 10 minutes before Mandzukic scored, defender Sime Vrsaljko headed a shot on target off the goal line to keep the score tied.