Jubilant Croatia fans revel in World Cup semi-final win over England

Lawrence Kim
July 12, 2018

Although Walker described the players as "absolutely gutted" to miss out on a place in the World Cup final, he said they could take great encouragement from the emotional scenes at the end of Wednesday night's defeat against Croatia, when England fans showed their respect for the team's performances in Russian Federation by staying behind to applaud the players and singing their names. We were 1-0 down in three games in a row and we overtook all these.

And a respect for manager Gareth Southgate that, according to at least one newspaper, knows no bounds.

Although the Three Lions took the lead with a fantastic Kieran Trippier free-kick just five minutes in, the Vatreni showed grit to fight back from goals from Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic to win the match after extra-time.

Gareth Southgate will keep the faith with his first-choice XI for tonight's crucial World Cup semi-final against Croatia.

As for the game itself, Southgate was pleased with aspects of his team's performance against an experienced and wily Croatian side, who will now play France in Sunday's World Cup Final.

Defender Josip Pivaric celebrates in his face before Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic offers him a comforting arm around the shoulder.

"It hurts. I don't know what else to say".

Asked later about his chances of winning the Ballon d'Or, he said: "I am just concerned with the team, with success for Croatia".

"I don't think you can put it into words... the feeling this comes once in a lifetime, if not two lifetimes". Croatian fans were elated; English fans fumed, claiming the goal should've been disallowed because of a high kick.

As the England team continues to evolve post-World Cup, hopefully Southgate and Sterling's teammates can devise a strategy whereby he can do more of his work inside the penalty area rather than outside it. We should have killed the game before extra time, but this is an unbelievable achievement for us, a dream come true.

'At the moment we all feel the pain of defeat.

"But we handled it well, but unfortunately we conceded at the wrong time, after that I thought we again picked it up again and done well".

"Normally he would have been forced into a change because someone would get injured but, freakishly, we've had no injuries".

England will return to their Repino base near Saint Petersburg ahead of Saturday´s third place play-off against Belgium, a repeat of their final group match.

"Yeah of course [I want to play]. We will give everything and see what happens". "That will be the challenge".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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