England set World Cup set-piece record

Ruben Hill
July 12, 2018

"I think that's absolutely wonderful".

In Moscow, some England fans emerged from the Luzhniki Stadium in tears and being hugged by others while jubilant Croatian supporters celebrated around them.

In addition to touching on England's preparations for the nation's biggest game in almost three decades, Southgate took the time to praise World Cup hosts Russian Federation.

When they said this was an experimental tournament for a young England side, Southgate refused to swallow that. And while the young Lions - tied with Les Bleus as the greenest in the whole tournament - barely threatened for most of the next hour, it felt like Trippier's early strike would hold up against a exhausted team that had played nearly another full match in winning its first two knockout games from the penalty spot.

In the stadium that can still echo to the memories of the legendary middle distance battles between Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe at Moscow's 1980 Olympics, England stumbled with the finishing tape in sight. That goal was cancelled out by a second-half Ivan Perisic equalizer to ensure the sides were tied at 1-1 after 90 minutes.

It's four years away, sure, and a lot can change in that time.

The Juventus forward scored the victor in the 109th minute to send the tiny country of just 4 million people to their first-ever World Cup final, and couldn't say enough about the historic achievement after the match.

Croatia fans in NZ party at fulltime.

Southgate was a key player for England at Euro 96 but saw his penalty saved in the shoot-out at the end of the semi-final against Germany which saw them knocked out. Suddenly, England looked like the exhausted ones.

"No way will they have such an easy route next time".

Like England's Gareth Southgate, Croatian boss Zlatko Dalic did not did not begin the World Cup qualifying campaign in charge of the nation.

He rolled up his sleeves way before he pulled on his World Cup waistcoat and convinced his players to trust him when he told them that they could be contenders.

"Whether we win or lose, we're creating history", he said.

Croatia stunned England in the 109th minute of the first extra time period when Mario Mandzukic slipped behind the defense and poked a shot past the keeper to put his team up 2-1 for good.

He has the total respect and loyalty of his squad. See more of the fun in the video player above.

I don't think any of them could have given any more.

From Pickford's penalty save against Colombia to Eric Dier's ice-cold heroics moments later.

Kieran Trippier has been a revelation as a defender and creator while Harry Maguire's "man of the people" persona has gone hand in hand with rapid development as an England defender.

"It's his quality that he's been showing for many years". But England has not been in the final since 1966, when it won its only World Cup title. On Wednesday, Croatia earned its spot in the finals for the first time.

Prime Minister Theresa May echoed his comments, saying the team had made the country proud, and looked forward to the third place play-off against Belgium on Saturday.

"I couldn't have asked them to give any more for me or for the country". It could be a repeat of that under-strength group game that brought a Belgian victory. Or at least one of them does.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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