Croatia become smallest nation to reach World Cup final since 1950

Elias Hubbard
July 12, 2018

By evening they had crashed down to earth, as by far their largest number of travelling supporters at the tournament saw the team lose to Croatia in extra time.

For a second there, it did honestly feel like it was coming home, but alas, it was not to be.

But the team's performance over the past month - with a 6-1 trouncing of Panama, their first ever World Cup penalties win and first World Cup semi-final since 1990 - has seen them reconnect with a disillusioned fan base.

Jamie Redknapp has graded the England players after the heartbreaking Croatia loss and gave attacking midfielder Dele Alli a 7/10. But a second-half goal from Ivan Perisic and an extra-time victor from Mario Mandzukic ended England's dream of reaching the final and winning a second World Cup for their country. Croatia's Zlatko Dalic became the latest manager to pick him out as the chief threat to his side, as Gareth Southgate was forced to once again defend the 23-year-old.

"They had also good chances, but second half we did it much, much better. Absolutely gutted. Thanks to the fans for your incredible support".

As expected, tonight's match proved to be an entertaining one for the neutrals and a stressful experience for English supporters, who have always been claiming that this is the year it finally comes home again.

"We take it on the chin, we move on".

With the game's score tied as of this story's publish, chances are high there will only be more beer spilled as English - and Croatian - fans continue to root avidly for their country's success on the World Cup stage.

He said: "What was it two crosses two goals?" We have three days to prepare ourselves. "If we win I really want to be there, but I just can't afford the prices being quoted".

"This was the dream, we could've made it".

"A couple of weeks ago, I would have taken this result", said another England fan.

Croatia's strength of character will serve them well in the World Cup final against France, their coach and players said after they came from behind for the third straight knockout match to beat England on Wednesday.

"It was a tough first half".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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